German furniture web shop Home24 has launched today in Belgium. Many shareholders are equally Zalando shareholders and the company has the same ambition, also in Belgium - even though Belgians rarely buy furniture online.
Sixth Home24 country
Home24 is already present in its home nation (Germany), France, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria, but will add Belgium to that list now. It has nearly 50,000 items for sale, partly its own brands and partly large international brands like Esprit Home, WMF and Kare.
It wants to add Belgian suppliers as quickly as possible, according to managing director Constantin Eis in Het Nieuwsblad. "We want local suppliers to add a Belgian touch, but globally, I don't think there is a huge difference with the German taste. We have a wide range of designer furniture, but the more romantic range is also available."
Home24 was founded in 2009 in Berlin and ever since the company had received the backing of several rich investors (like German Rocket Internet, Swedish AB Kinnevik and department store group Rewe), who have also invested in Zalando, it has developed very fast, even though it still has not made a profit.
Belgian consumer ready for online furniture?
It remains to be seen whether Belgian consumers are ready for online furniture. Clothing and shoes, hotel reservations and books have proven popular and are even the 3 most popular internet purchases according to a study ordered by trade federation Comeos and InSites. Furniture is not even in the top 10 in that study, but that does not scare Home24. "The online furniture sales have grown quickly in every country we have entered", Constantin Eis said.
Vincent Van Beekhoff, operational manager for the concern which runs Belgian web shop Furnlab, believes furniture web shops have a bright future: "The consumer is ready to buy online furniture. Chairs, tables, armchairs are no longer a huge step for a lot of consumers. It will take some time before couches are equally popular online."
"A lot of people no longer feel like waiting in line at the large, traditional shopping chains. Those are crowded and not every colour and size is displayed. Coolblue has changed that landscape in the Netherlands. They have killed off a range of stores with their specific electronics web shops. Home24, the interior-focused Zalando sibling, has already conquered the Netherlands and revolutionized the furniture market", Vincent said. He believes web shops are here to stay, but it remains to be seen whether Home24 can initiate a similar revolution in Belgium...