Furniture News explores the practices and philosophies behind homewares website Fern & Grey, in a discussion with co-founder Zora Desai …

Fern & Grey specialises in the sale of high quality modern, mid-century and Scandinavian furniture. Launched this July, the website offers around 100 SKUs, and growing month on month.

Why visit your website?

To put it simply we offer beautiful modern, mid-century and Scandinavian furniture at great prices. We pride ourselves on the high quality of our products and our customer service. Most of what we advertise we hold in stock in the UK so this enables us to deliver items within days as opposed to weeks.

How did you enter the trade?

When looking to furnish my apartment, it was frustrating to find out that most of the furniture I wanted to buy came with 10-12 week dispatch times. What made matters worse is that even with these excessively long lead times, most companies still struggled to deliver within that timeframe! I felt that there had to be a better way to do things, and although at Fern & Grey not everything is available for immediate dispatch, we ensure that most of what we advertise is in stock.

Who is your e-commerce hero?

It’s an obvious one, but it has to be Net a Porter. They are always one step ahead of the curve and they have revolutionised the e-commerce industry. I think it is great how flexible they are with delivery and returns – it makes life very easy for lazy shoppers like myself and people on the go.

Describe a typical working day

As with most companies, there isn’t what I would call a typical day. I would say though that my regular daily duties involve dealing with suppliers, checking on the daily orders and following up with customers.

“Sometimes the things you never think will work in a million years can often end up pleasantly surprising you”

What part of your job would you prefer to avoid?

The most mundane part of the job is probably dealing with shipping and warehousing logistics. At the moment as the company is still quite young, I tend to deal with a lot of the paperwork myself.

What has been your greatest challenge?

Developing our brand and getting our name out there. With online businesses sometimes it can be hard to get your message across especially if you are a start-up and still building up a reputation. There are so many options online and although you may be offering something different, it is easy to get lost among the crowd.

How much do you invest in making your site more visible?

We are constantly working on our site and experimenting with paid and non-paid forms of advertising and social media to increase our visibility. Visibility is key for any online business but especially so for a start-up as people are not familiar with your brand. Without number dropping, I would say advertising and marketing currently represents the largest percentage of our total costs.

What are your growth plans for the business?

Over the next few months we are aiming to increase the number of products we have available and expand more into living and bedroom furniture. Our aim is to at least double the number of products we have available by the end of the year.

What advice would you offer an aspiring e-tailer?

Just keep testing. You have to keep an open mind as you will never know what works and what doesn’t work until you try. Sometimes the things you never think will work in a million years can often end up pleasantly surprising you.

This article was published in the November issue of Furniture News magazine.