Furniture News explores the practices and philosophies behind new upholstery aggregator, www.findasofa.com, in a Q&A session with the website's founder, Philip Price …
Findasofa.com is an aggregator website for consumers to find sofas and retailers to promote their sofas. Launched in February 2018, the site already boasts some 1600 (and growing) SKUs, and its public launch is slated for September 2018.
Why visit your website?
If you’re buying a sofa, you should visit our site, because it will save you hours and hours of trawling multiple websites. If you sell sofas you should also visit the website, take a look around and then go on to add your own sofas.
We’ve made it free, so it really is a very cost-effective way of showing off your products and designs.
How did you enter this industry?
I entered the industry almost by accident. Nearly 20 years ago, an invite for lunch (which I almost turned down) ended up becoming a job offer with a very small and unknown company (at the time) called PlusNet. It was then that I thought to myself “this internet thing is going to take off” – so from then on I’ve been building and growing businesses in the technology and marketing arenas.
Who is your ecommerce hero?
A gentleman by the name of Matt Cutts. Not many people know his name, but for many years he was the head of Google’s web spam team – in essence, one of the people who had a significant impact on the who and what of organic search results in Google.
Nailing search has been a passion of mine for the last 15 years.
Describe a typical working day
Wake up 6am, at the gym by 6.30, school run at 8.30 then work by 9. Every day is very different – but the focus at the moment is working with retailers, working on developing the site, and planning for our public launch in September.
What part of your job would you prefer to avoid?
None – I love it all because it’s new and shiny at the moment. Also, work has never felt like work to me, – maybe it did when I was 16 and working part time in McDonalds, but these days it just doesn’t. I love business and working on digital projects.
What has been your greatest challenge to date?
In terms of my business, it’s been adapting to what I call chicken-and-egg scenarios. We wanted to go live in February 2018, which we did, but we needed retailers and sofas on the site to make it work, and couldn’t turn the site on for them to see beforehand.
Trying to make that happen was challenging but we managed it, and within a month we’d got over 30 retailers and 1600 designs listed, so it’s going a lot better than we thought – but it’s still very early days.
From a personal point of view my biggest challenge has been raising an amazing little daughter with my wonderful wife. I’m pretty sure everyone with a family will at some time call it challenging!
How much do you invest in making your site more visible?
Pretty much everything we’ve got at the moment. We’ve got a three-phase plan. Phase 1 includes, among other things, something we call indexing, which is ensuring we get our site content effectively registered for long-tail key strings on search engines. We’re aiming for 186,000 targets, but I’ll be happy with anything over 100,000.
Phase 2 is a UK public awareness drive, both on- and offline, which we’ll probably start towards the back end of this year, then the final phase of the plan is to launch in five other countries starting in 2020.
What’s your take on how the relationship between online and physical retail might develop?
If I’m right, they will grow together – I think you need both for sofas. However, the touchpoint mix will change. For example, before the internet it was all offline. The early internet comes along, and consumers search online then go offline to buy. Now we’re seeing an increasing number of people returning to the internet after doing their physical store visits to buy their sofas online. I think this shift will increase going forwards.
Do you have any plans to grow your business?
Significantly, yes. My aim is to become the default independent website for sofa consumers. Take a look at the GoCompares of this world, now think of the sofa buyer’s equivalent (just without the annoying singing man!).
We’ve got lots and lots of great plans, but people will have to wait to see what they are.
What advice would you offer an aspiring etailer?
In terms of selling sofas online, I would say categorically it’s the picture that counts. Invest in some good photography, as people buy with their eyes.