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Amit Dalmia, founder and CEO of BedBathMore, an online shopping portal for home furnishing products, firmly believes that people should do business only if they have the instinct for it or if they have a legacy to showcase. “Otherwise rest are all doing arbitrage businesses.”

No wonder, home furnishings and solutions was something that naturally aroused his attention when he made the shift to ecommerce and started BedBathMore in 2012, which became fully operational 18 months ago.

BedBathMore is the online distributor for brands like Portico New York, Dicitex Furnishings and King Koil Mattresses, stores like Baaya Designs, Sanctum and Santorini, brands like Esprit, Spaces, Swayam, Maishaa, Umbra, Corelle, and owns brands like Stoa Paris, Fisher West NY, St. Cloud and Bliss. Though it primarily caters to India, it has shipped products to New Zealand, UK and Dubai as well. Currently, the website showcases about 15K products which company plans to take it to 50K in a couple of weeks.

Moving away from being just a online seller, the startup has diversified into the solutions market, and has acquired many private labels in its journey till now. It wants to build an entire ecosystem encompassing the home solutions market. As Amit says, “Our aim is to be a single destination for everything home.”

Challenges Involved and BedBathMore’s Proposition

Setting up a home furnishing and solutions ecommerce company has its own set of challenges. As Amit points out, home solutions is a very different market. It is a fixed, more steady where not too much of impulse buying happens. If one thinks of it, home still constitutes the single largest expenditure for a family and every purchasing decision has a lot of thought process involved.

Another challenge was to keep the business real and not get weighed in by matrices, hypothetical comparisons, and models given the varied nature of the home solutions market. In this steady market, BedBathMore wants to be seen as a combination of thought, design and experience – the single destination for everything home. The etailer wants to be all encompassing, but in a simple way. Compared to others, BedBathMore wants to be seen as a discovery platform.

As Amit points out, “If we look at the competition in the market, you will see that most players are transactional players. They are mainly targeting customers who await a deal or discount to buy home solutions. But if you try to do your home, you start with discovery and not go looking for a transaction in the first place.”

Secondly, most of the players are largely focused on furniture. However, BedBathMore wants to be a complete home solution provider.

Target Market and Traction

As a home solutions provider, BedBathMore looks to be the all-out social discovery platform which makes target audience huge. Thus, anyone looking for solutions from bedsheets to paint to customised fabrics would qualify as a consumer for the portal.

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On an average, the portal witnesses about 200k-250k visits on a monthly basis. A typical basket size which includes furniture is about $617-$694 ( INR 40k-45k) a cart while that without furniture ranges from $108-$123 (INR7k-8k). Category wise, décor does the best, followed by solutions and furniture.

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As is the case with other ecommerce players, 70% of its business comes from the top 10 internet connected cities, which is mainly metros. The portal which also exports apparels and home furnishings to the US & Europe is also looking to further expand in 2-3 countries in Asia.

Private Label Acquisitions

As a part of its growth strategy, BedBathMore has frequently partnered with private labels though the debate about their profitability in India’s cutthroat ecommerce market continues. This June, it acqui-hired the graphic art marketplace Crude Area, the startup has over 120 artists from across the world and claims to have about 1,000 artworks, a community of 8,000 buyers and sells 500 orders a month on average. Similarly, a month before it had acquired Homado.com, a marketplace for interior designers to showcase their portfolio and the acquisition added over 3,000 architects and interior designers into BedBathMore.

Amit shares, “Acquiring private labels is a part of our inorganic growth strategy, so whenever we can work with like-minded entrepreneurs, we try to get them in our fold. For instance, the Homado acquisition will allow us to tap into the design community, so basically it will enable us to leverage the design industry for our home solutions.”Thus in longer run, these acquisitions will strengthen company’s repertoire.

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Funding and Expansion Plans

Backed by Blume Ventures, the company’s immediate concern is to  focus on ramping up the product offering. But has plans to go for a full grown Series A round by the end of this year.

As far as expansion plans are concerned, BedBathMore wants to create a full blown ecosystem around it, with brands and professionals contributing to the platform. In the future, it will be soon coming up with revolutionary offerings in the design space. This is being done with the idea of shifting more towards an aggregator model. Dalmia  adds, “Companies like HomeLane and PepperFry would be BedBathMore’s customers in the future.  Right now our focus is on building up content as it allows you to scale up quickly.”

The home solutions market is a staggering $35.5 Bn (INR 2,30,000 Cr) including flooring solutions. Players such as HomeLane, UrbanLadder, PepperFry, FabFurnish and LivSpace which directly and indirectly compete with BedBathMore, are also stressing on innovation and at the same time arousing investor interest in this space.

This June, Karnataka-based HomeLane launched its innovative virtual reality-based device called the Kaleido. Prior to that, in February, it had raised $4.5 Mn Series A funding and also according to reports it is looking to close a $50 Mn in series B to be co-led by Sequoia Capital.

UrbanLadder which raised $50 Mn, has recently launched a feature that helps users visualise and put their entire room together before buying the furniture and decor products. Similarly, online home and design website FabFurnish.com has redone its business model by evolving itself into a content-driven platform for discovery and sale of curated home products.

Another significant player in this space, Bangalore-based home design & decor startup LivSpace acquired YoFloor, DezignUp and Dwll.in, and had  raised $8 Mn in an internal round of funding led by its existing investors. Not to be left behind is Pepperfry which received a backing of $100 Mn from U.S investment bank and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in July this year.

Given the fact that home furnishing alone is a $10 Bn market in India and BedBathMore wants to be a complete home solutions provider, it will be interesting to watch how the etailer carves out its unique position amidst the growing tribe of entrants in this space.

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