28 May 2024, 11:36
By Furniture News Aug 16, 2016

Harp Kaur, Style Our Home

Furniture News speaks to the MD and founder of Style Our Home, Harp Kaur, to explore the people, practices and philosophies behind the class-leading e-tail business ...

Founded in 2007, Style Our Home is a very different online retailer, combining an extensive range of brands and products with personal customer service and expert tailored advice. Style Our Home was a finalist in the Online Retail Awards 2016.

Why visit your website?
With a vision of being unique and approachable, Style Our Home combines an extensive range of brands and products, personal customer service and expert tailored advice. With entrepreneurial skills and professional backgrounds, the owner managers bring a powerful mix of expertise, creativity and enthusiasm for design, furniture and accessories. 

Our aim is to ensure our customers can source the best products, tailored to their requirements by utilising our multi-faceted room, style and colour search functionality. 

How did you enter the industry?
In 2007, I set up a website selling home accessories and soft furnishings. After attending many exhibitions and working closely with furniture e-tailers, I soon noticed there was a gap in the market for an online furniture retailer which provided a choice of competitively-priced mid- to high-end products, knowledgeable, professional, personal customer service and a multi-navigational e-commerce website.

Recognising the potential for growth in the online retail home furniture and furnishings market, the team expanded to form a strategic alliance between three company owners. Having strong drive, creativity, ambition and passion, we have combined our respective industry expertise and professional experience to realise our vision of creating a brand which provides our browsers and customers with the best possible shopping experience. 

Who is your e-commerce hero?
Amazon. From buying books to now absolutely anything – what’s next with them? Nothing will surprise me! Another one is AO.com – great products, service and delivered within days!

Initially, I worked closely with my brother, one of the very first furniture e-tailers – I guess he would be my e-commerce hero – his guidance and expertise augmented my knowledge and helped me take a big step in the right direction.

Describe a typical working day
There is no such thing as typical day at Style Our Home, that’s why it’s so exciting. Being heavily involved in all aspects of the business, from development to administration, I feel it’s important to know the dynamics of each and every role to truly understand what is involved to achieve success for the business as a whole.

All of the senior management team share the same view and will assist with taking calls, after sales, social media, marketing and brand development – it really helps us to stay close to the needs of our customers and suppliers. 

What part of your job would you prefer to avoid?
As an online-only retailer, I have always been keen to spend time within our logistics and warehouse operations to see the construction of the products we sell, materials used and to understand why our customers occasionally choose to return items, however warehouse visits can be tedious and extremely cold during the winter! Having said that, I don’t particularly dislike any task and believe if you apply your mind, every challenge culminates with an element of enlightenment.

What has been your greatest challenge?
To overcome the reservations of suppliers in the early days to explore the potential of online retail and recognise the diverse outreach and target audience of e-commerce marketing. So, I guess the big challenge was having faith in our brand and concept.

Due to the reputation we have built in supporting brand profiles as a trusted online retailer, our product portfolio continues to diversify to reflect unique and exciting trends.

How much do you invest in making your site more visible?
Investment and exploration of new sales channels is paramount and certainly not an area to compromise your aspirations. The beauty of modern analytics is that it enables quantification and valuable insights to guide further investment. If something works, we keep on investing to fuel the formula further.

What’s your take on how the relationship between online and physical retail might develop? 
I see online and physical retail as complementary. It is essential to preserve the bricks and mortar industry to ensure customers can see products and capitalise on in- store expertise to facilitate their choice. 

The online experience introduces a plethora of products, targeting a global audience and addressing wider consumer requirements searching the internet for something different, unique and immediately accessible. More and more frequently, online lead generation is contributing to a synergistic balance with physical retail, acting as a catalyst for subsequent store visits by consumer.

I believe that independent e-commerce companies should have a retail presence at some point. Finding a niche and providing a digital shopping experience in store is ultimately the way forward. 

What are your growth plans for the business?
Growing is what we are constantly working towards, investing in our staff development and building on the commitment, passion and excitement we have created. Style Our Home still has so much to offer. It has gone from strength to strength – we continue to improve and invest heavily in our website and are currently working towards exciting new projects to enhance our online presence. 

What advice would you offer an aspiring e-tailer?
Get your hands dirty and invest your time to truly understand your business – the only way to grow is to know. Stay focused and set your goals, invest in people who are equally passionate and endeavour to share your aspirations. Anything is possible with the internet if you promote in the correct way in the correct places. 

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