Made.com has had an excellent 2018, featuring a turnover increase by 37 % and 40 million pounds (45 million euros) of extra capital. Boosted by a new flagship store in London, CEO Philip Chainieux looks to the future with confidence.
Made.com “design company for the digital generation”
Made.com's ambition is to become the leading design company for the digital age: that is what Chainieux told RetailDetail during the opening of their renewed store in Soho, London. The store has been furnished to meet the needs of a new concept, which will also be introduced elsewhere: the store is to become a location for more events and features various technological innovations for providing information and processing orders.
Buying is still not an option in Made.com's stores – which are more like showrooms. Chainieux explained the brand's unique vision this way: "Every customer experience starts online these days, often through mobile devices. In our case, it also ends online. Why would you have a supply, if you can tell a story and let the transaction flow from there?"
The CEO noticed that Made.com's customers usually buy from home, even when they did visit a physical showroom. He considers the physical store of the future to be a place to establish contact, not a place to sell. "For us, the showroom is a touch point within the customer journey: an extension of the online experience, reinforcing and enriching the emotion. The showrooms offer brand familiarity and commitment, because we use them to create stories and organise events."
To Denmark, Finland, Italy and Portugal
The strategy certainly proved successful for Made.com last year: the company's turnover increased by 37 % and reached 173 million British pounds (almost 200 million euros). A year before, the furniture seller already saw its turnover grow by 40 %. The company does not release any profit figures.
The British home market still represents 58 % of total sales, but in 2019, Europe will catch up with those numbers. Made.com has been active in nine countries since last October, when the company entered the Spanish market. Four new countries will be added to the list this year: Denmark, Finland, Italy and Portugal. Expansion is partly enabled by an anonymous investor who injected 40 million pounds (about 45 million euros) of capital in March of last year.
The furniture brand is also looking to expand its products range and number of designers in order to move to new markets. Made.com is working to build a community where designers can work for the brand as independent contractors. Hobby designers and beginning professionals can do so through Made.com's own new crowdfunding platform TalentLab. There, customers can sign for products that will only be manufactured once enough orders have been made and enough advances have been paid.
150 external designers
As for the fixed collections, Made.com works with a talent pool of 150 external designers, but the company also employs about seven designers in residence. "Our ambition is to become the ultimate destination for designers in Europe. Nowhere else can an independent designer have his work distributed on such a large scale," explained Chainieux. Designers will receive a fixed sum for their design, but what that amount is, remains a secret.
Besides cutting out intermediate trade, Made.com also shakes up the furniture industry by applying the principles of 'fast fashion' to interior design. The company frequently releases new collections, but in limited runs. "There are many variables and you are never sure of the colour, material, price and so on. By reducing the cost of that risk, you can innovate much more and try out new things. Made.com's secret is: we can afford to fail - it is not too costly. Daring to fail allows us to do things differently."