22 July 2024, 20:13
By Furniture News Oct 04, 2016

Dimitri Pappas, My Furniture

Furniture News speaks to the director of My Furniture, Dimitri Pappas, to explore the people, practices and philosophies behind the class-leading e-tail business. Founded in 2013, My Furniture offers designer furniture at affordable prices.

Why visit your website?

My Furniture offers the latest trends and designs in furniture,  high quality, five star customer service and very quick free delivery, at extremely competitive prices.

How did you enter the industry?
There are three partners in the business – we were neighbours and friends. Each of us have had different career paths. I come from the world of telecoms and another of the partners worked within the furnishing industry. He suggested we pool our resources and talents to start an online furniture business, and I laughed! I’m not laughing now though, as in just a few years we have turned it into a very successful business.

Who is your e-commerce hero?
AO.com has to be the one for me.  They represent everything that we want to be known for – common sense, good prices, great customer service and a wide product range. Our aim at My Furniture is to achieve their success.

Describe a typical working day
A typical working day starts early about 5am (from home), mainly because many of our suppliers are in the Far East and we have to include them into their working day, otherwise tasks tend to drift inside the week. Also, the morning is when I can do my planned tasks rather than dealing with any day to day issues that arise during a normal working day.

I then leave for the office to arrive at 9am and deal with the normal everyday tasks that any company has to deal with, from late inbound containers to new designs, to packaging suppliers to expensive accountants!

We are not yet a large enough company to be able to afford specialists in every field, so we are all cross functional and able to cover most jobs. I usually don’t leave the office till about 6.30pm but I always keep an eye on my phone after that, mainly for checking on the evening sales or any negative feedback that may require quick response and attention.

Which part of your job would you prefer to avoid?
Dealing with complaints is definitely the one part of my job that I do have the luxury to be able to avoid these days. We don’t get many complaints, but as with any online business, we do get customers that for one reason or other can be unhappy on the phone or email, mainly due to courier or delivery issues. It is a very hard situation to be in, especially when it is not our fault, however we always try to resolve any complaints fast.

What has been your greatest challenge to date?
The roots of the company were on eBay and third party websites and my greatest challenge was creating an independent online furniture company from these humble beginnings. It is much harder to create demand as an independent website compared with an Amazon or eBay store.

This is rapidly changing though, and our website sales now far exceed the total combined turnover on third party websites.  However we haven’t turned our back on third party websites as they were an important stepping stone in the development of our business. In fact, we are using the same model to expand to our new European and US websites.

How much do you invest in making your site more visible?
In the sea of internet, marketing is sometimes the only tool you have if you want to stand out. Yes we do have organic growth and a large amount of returning customers, however the bigger part of growth comes from marketing, without a doubt. They say you have to put 10% of your profits into marketing. I think for an online company without much physical presence, 10% is the absolute minimum!

There are many ways to spend money on marketing, but we have found that social media marketing represents very good value for money for the company, as it is still in its relative infancy. However, we expect costs will keep rising in this area over time.

What’s your take on how the relationship between online and physical retail might develop?
Physical presence is important, especially in the world of furniture. On many occasions it is a deal breaker, especially for the higher ticket items. There is no picture that can show the feel and comfort of a sofa. However I think that the high street will keep getting pressure from the online retailers as time goes by. A lot of them are overpriced because they have to finance expensive city centre locations.

Equally, online retailers need to have showrooms where people can get the touch and feel of the products. We currently have one showroom attached to our warehouse in Nottingham, and are in the planning stages of opening our first London showroom in 2017.

What are your growth plans for the business?
This is the exciting part of being in business! Our website is now live in Sweden, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, with the US coming online in 2017.

We have had a very positive response to our products through Amazon in Europe, so we are now focusing into offering our full range there too. This involves making deals with many local companies, couriers and other businesses in their respective countries, following the model of the UK business.

What advice would you offer an aspiring e-tailer?
Treat every customer like they are the first one – they will keep coming back and they will recommend you to all their friends and family.

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