Special thanks to CartStack for underwriting the new “E-commerce exploration” series.
What is the name of the company and what do you retail online?
DefySupply, we have a selection of 4,600+ furniture items, all produced on-demand, from leading global manufacturers.
When was your company founded and by whom?
Founded by myself, Brent Gensler, in April 2008.
What was impetus to start Defy Supply?
I had the rare opportunity to visit hundreds of various factories throughout China. I was blown away by the difference between what the merchandise actually costs to produce vs. what is sold for at the retail stores. I soon realized how shockingly far the manufacturers (the people actually making the items) were from the end-users (the people who actually sit in the items).
There’s generally two different middlemen taking their margin before it even hits the retail store. At the retail store, they obviously have limited space and limited selection due to the size of furniture. We combated both the middleman issue, and the limited inventory issue, by going straight to the factories and having them produce our orders on-demand. We are therefore extremely price competitive as well as having an almost unlimited inventory.
How many employees do you have?
Thirty-one in total. We have nine full-time USA staff and 22 in China
Selling furniture is a bit tricky as many people want to sit in it and touch it before they purchase. That being said, the people that are shopping online are already accustomed to e-commerce and so the people on our site are already more open to the idea than the casual furniture shopper.
What percentage of your sales comes from repeat business?
About 15% per year, which is apparently pretty high in the furniture industry as it’s not an item people frequently purchase.
Do you have a m-commerce (mobile) strategy and/or a s-commerce (social) strategy in place?
We launched a very rough m-commerce store. We don’t get much mobile traffic though so it hasn’t been a main focus.
What is the biggest trend you noticed in 2012 that affected your sales one way or the other?
People are buying more and more of our unique pieces…like a four-pieced pink sectional sofa. It seems that “self expression” is becoming more prominent… or pink sectionals are.
How do do you see the e-commerce industry changing over the next 5-10 years?
Vertically integrated brands will be the staple of the next 5-10 years in my opinion.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
We continue to be amazed at how much the furniture e-commerce space is growing. It’s currently a $7 billion per year industry and the market is shockingly fragmented and ripe for innovation.