NowModern.com | BCBusiness
NowModern ships bar stools from Richmond to anywhere in Canada, for free.
It's not uncommon these days for new businesses to go straight to e-commerce, but when an established bricks-and-mortar furniture store launches a new furniture brand entirely online, we had to ask why
When the brass at Richmond-based Möbler Furniture saw a shift in furniture trends that reflected smaller, open-concept urban living spaces, they recognized that bar stools were going to be big business. They also realized that if they wanted to do big business selling them, the expense of a bricks-and-mortar set-up wasn't required. BCBusiness chatted with Möbler and NowModern general manager Jesper Langballe about why a digital bar stool business works so well.
You're Danish, which certainly lends you some clout in world of stylish home furnishings. How did you get into the furniture business?
It was 20 years ago back in Denmark. Denmark is a furniture nation, that’s where a lot of the mid century stuff originates from. I did an apprenticeship in Germany for a couple of years, came back to Denmark and finished my education there at a business college. Then I went to the States in the mid-90's and did an apprenticeship there, also within furniture. (A lot of production that used to be done in Denmark has, of course, moved overseas to Asia.) Eventually I ended up in Atlanta opening furniture stores down there, then I met my wife and she brought me up to Canada where I came across Möbler furniture, which next year has been in business 30 years.
Möbler has a long-standing bricks-and-mortar location. Why not just sell bar stools there?
We wanted to try out e-commerce, but we wanted to do it under a different name because if we went e-commerce with Möbler, it’s not all product groups that we could sell on line. To ship a glass table across the country is not the easiest thing to do. We believe that, still, when people buy a sofa, they want to sit in it first. But not bar stools. Of course it would have been easier if we took Möbler, which is an existing brand [and went online] in terms of google and SEO and stuff like that, but we wanted to kind of keep it separate. So it’s been taking some time to build up the NowModern brand as www.nowmodern.com.
How have you been marketing NowModern?
We have done PPC (pay per click) and we have worked on the SEO in terms of with ads online. We’ve been using Facebook and Twitter a lot, and also Pinterest. We have worked with a PR company in terms of getting product placements on TV, running contests…. So we have really tried to hit the market as wide as possible. We’re starting to find out what works and what doesn’t work, and then we’ll start to spend more money on the things that work best.
Your pricing ranges from about $149 to $229 per bar stool, which isn't that expensive for what is basically designer furniture. Do you credit that pricing as much as the ease of online shopping for the success you've had since NowModern launched in April?
I think both. The price range we are in, people would probably use these bar stools for between three and seven years. On average our customers move every seven to eight years—that’s average. So it’s not like it used to be with our parents, who bought a house and lived there for 40 years until they were carried out. People move much more frequently, and maybe they want to start all fresh, try something else. It takes a lot to change all your cabinets in the kitchen, but by changing three bar stools you can change the look of your kitchen totally. But also, everything is shipped to your door free of charge. You can sit in the comfort of your own home and surf on our website. We’ve done a lot in terms of making our website very informative in terms of seating heights and things like that. It’s trouble-free shopping and it arrives right at your doorstep.
Where do you ship most of your bar stools?
The majority is out of province. We are doing very well in Ontario and Saskatchewan and Alberta is good for us, too. We have also had big success in suburbs.
Is there anything else particularly unique about how you're running NowModern as an e-tail business?
We don’t drop ship. You only deal with us, so you don’t have a third party shipping things to you. We sit on the inventory, which is very important and quite different from a lot of the e-tailers out there. Here it is only NowModern and the end consumer and our customer service all the way through. That’s probably a business model you’ll see more and more in more specific items, and you won’t have these gigantic retail websites where they carry basically anything you can think of. People want to deal with professionals, you know?
What are NowModern's best-sellers right now?
Very popular is the flat-based barstools because they have a brushed finish, which matches appliances in a lot of kitchens. And also the ones with the wood-back. The entire selection is available at www.nowmodern.com.