Furniture News speaks to Tony Clark, co-owner of the Trade Furniture Company, one of the UK’s premier importers of reclaimed Indian wood …
With over 20 years’ experience designing solid wood furniture to fit bespoke customer requirements, the company’s exclusive range of real wood furniture includes the Dakota, Dark Wood, Indian Wood, Mango Wood, Reclaimed and Sheesham Furniture collections, and its website attracts an average of 25,000 unique visitors each month.
Why visit your website?
We not only retail, we actually manufacture our own 100% solid mango and sheesham wood furniture in the UK and have a large collection of competitively-priced ranges available on our website. We also have five-star reviews for our products and service, so why wouldn’t you visit us?
Customers who visit our website can also access a number of exclusive online offers – whether that is for free delivery on our bespoke collections or seasonal sales, we continuously provide prospective buyers with enticing deals.
How did you enter the industry?
I’ve always been interested in furniture, and was involved in the industry from a young age as my mum and dad owned a furniture store. So I guess you could say it’s in my blood.
Who is your ecommerce hero?
It’s hard to look past a company like Asos. They were one of the early adopters of the ecommerce-only model and have grown and refined their online offering over countless years to become a pioneer in e-retailing. They recognised the shift in retail from offline to online shopping and fully embraced it with great success.
Describe a typical working day
I wouldn’t say there is a typical working day at Trade Furniture Company. As a business we are always busy working on a number of exciting projects, be that developing new product collections, updating our website with our latest offers, or delivering bespoke furniture for customers across the UK – no two days are the same.
What part of your job would you prefer to avoid?
Any aspect that may cause a customer to be unhappy with our products and/or services. We want every single customer to be 100% happy, so if a problem arises we will go out of our way to resolve the issue as quickly and efficiently as we can.
What has been your greatest challenge to date?
Today’s consumers expect more than just a great product – they want service, as well as quality and a competitive price. One of the greatest challenges is ensuring we can deliver all of this, especially when it comes to website sales.
We strive to deliver all of our products within a reasonable timeframe for customers, and have managed to effectively streamline our delivery service. Our average delivery time is currently nine days, and we are working hard to reduce this further to just seven.
We also understand that we need to be flexible and work around our customers, which is why we offer early weekday delivery slots between 6-7am, as well as Saturday deliveries. Our customers also have the opportunity to accept or decline a delivery slot through SMS or via email, giving them more control when it comes to receiving their products.
How much do you invest in making your site more visible?
There has been a clear shift in consumer purchasing habits towards buying more online, so as a business we understand the importance of having a website that is not only user friendly, but also highly visible for customers. That’s why we have invested in a new, soon-to-be launched website – which will be fully optimised for mobile devices – in order to give our clients the best possible customer experience when it comes to buying or researching our products online.
We also devote a considerable amount of time to improving content on our site – whether that is in the form of new product descriptions, buyer’s guides, blog posts or even our feedback forum. However, we also always have a helpful member of the team on hand should customers want to pick up the phone and get in touch.
What’s your take on how the relationship between online and physical retail might develop?
Online retail has become a much more acceptable way to shop, and we have developed a trusted process that efficiently integrates ecommerce with our renowned levels of customer service – which we feel go above and beyond our competitors.
Once an online purchase is made, using our fleet of delivery vans, our own delivery driver will bring the furniture into the property, unwrap it and even put it in place for the customer to ensure they are happy with their purchase. It is like a personal shopper bringing your purchase to your home for you to try, with the option of a free return if it is not suitable. We feel this is a service far beyond what most people ever expect to receive. Who needs physical retail stores when online retail is at that level?
Do you have any plans to grow your business?
As a company, we are continuously looking for ways to grow the business in order to enhance our service offer for our customers. We understand the importance of identifying and staying ahead of the latest furniture market trends, which is why we continue to invest in research and development, making regular trips to India to get inspiration for our exclusive sheesham wood and mango wood collections.
Our expert team are always busy developing new collections, and we aren’t afraid to try out new ideas. In fact, as we speak, we are in positive talks with a number of leading retailers and have some exciting plans to enter some new markets which we haven’t worked in before.
We understand the importance of striking the perfect balance between in-store service and ecommerce. At Trade Furniture Company we have ambitious plans to grow our online offering for customers, with a brand new website due to be launched very soon, so watch this space.
What advice would you offer an aspiring e-tailer?
The world of online retail is highly competitive, so it is essential that your website is not only well designed and easy to navigate, but also delivers when it comes to customer experience and functionality. Customers want to be able to come to your website and easily make a purchase – equally so, if they have a specific query about a particular product, they want to be able to easily get in touch. A good website makes this simple.