Launched with an aim to pioneer the online home decor market in India and targeting the affluent people in the age group of 30-45 years, Plushplaza.com offers a variety of home decor accessories and gifts. In a conversation with IMAGES Retail, Rahul Jagtiani, Managing Partner, Plushplaza.com, talks about the measures taken by the company to offer a good customer experience and their future plans.
When did Plush Plaza begun its operations? Why do you think online retailing is a viable business option?
Plush Plaza was formally launched in June 2010 with the idea of selling trendy home accessories online. This was around the time when high-end products were considered too risky to sell online because of the lack of trust from customers. Hence, we were among the first ones to offer products in the “home décor” category to customers online. E-commerce has come a long way since then; thanks to the money that has come into the industry.
E-commerce is definitely the way forward. A company without an online presence today is bound to lag behind. Almost every brand worth its salt is now on social media and has also set up an online store. It helps you widen your audience base and also reach markets where traditional stores offering a certain kind of product range do not exist. There is a latent demand in India that is growing along with the aspirations and e-commerce fulfils that gap beautifully.
What are the main highlights of your e-commerce strategy?
We cater to a certain niche only and hence stay away from mass e-commerce strategies of heavily discounting our product prices. We also refrain from offering too many deals. We use social media extensively as well as traditional PR channels to pull people to our website.
Our philosophy is to offer discounts when the rest of the world doesn’t and vice versa. We tie up with certain players offline such as top credit card and real estate companies that fit our niche and provide a few offers to that particular audience. This works better for us than being another online retailer discounting their products just like everyone else.
What is the average ticket price online? What kind of items are popular among your customers?
Average ticket price so far has been Rs 2,000. However, with our very recently launched furniture collection, the average ticket price has increased drastically. We have lately showcased our furniture collection at a high-end design show and immediately noticed an upward trend in the average ticket price.
The guitar bar has been a sellout, much to our pleasant surprise and we are getting good orders for that particular product. From our decor section, some of our bar items (wine holders) and gifting products continue to remain the best sellers. The Veneto Wine set has been a hot favourite for a while now, and it seems to be the perfect gift for every occasion. We also have a unique three-in-one business card holder that sells very well.
What are the main trends you have witnessed in terms of online shopping behaviour?
People are now starting to gain the confidence to purchase higher ticket items on our site. They are also quite comfortable with credit cards from a trust point of view. In fact, ever since we started offering COD, we witnessed an upward trend in the number of credit card transactions on our site.
What challenges you face in running an online store? What are your future plans?
Scaling up is always a challenge for a self-funded company. However, we rapidly keep growing year on year, albeit organically. It is a myth that running an e-commerce company is cheap. With strong IT services, customer support, and online marketing costs, it can be quite a drain. A lot of companies have also deeply started discounting products with the hope of acquiring customers – they got some initial traction; however, that was not a sustainable operation and many of those sites have either shut down, merged or been bought over by larger sites. We are glad that this phase of deep discounting that happened in 2011-2012 is coming to an end because an extremely price-sensitive customer can never be loyal.
Our focus has always been to mindfully focus on the bottom line as well and build a strong sustainable business. Customer revenue is the best form of funding in our opinion. We have actually phased out some of our older designs and are only focussing on offering disruptive designs to our customers. We may also venture into some form of traditional retail in the near future as it helps us capture a wider audience