Ashish Goel, CEO of Urban Ladder, is a design geek.
At the beginning of our conversation, we start talking about bookshelves. His eyes light up.
“Bookshelves are special. There are not many manufacturers who get it right. Especially in India. “
“Yes. One thing people always miss is that to make bookshelves properly, you need to understand books. People are always designing for the Western market – where people mainly buy hardbacks on paperbacks. In India, this is another way, so you have to adjust accordingly. Long shelves Shelves of books have to be held. People try to sell them, usually made of 13 inches. Waste of space. “
We are in the office of Urban Ladder in Bangalore. It was late in the evening, but the office was busy with activity. It’s been a long day for CEO Ashish Goel. He excuses himself to take coffee.
Goel’s office is located above the retail store at Domlur. It’s a storefront with signs you can’t miss, especially when you’re traveling on the Ring Road from Indiranagar to Koramangala – two pockets of modern wealth in the city. They informed me that they will be celebrating the store’s one year anniversary this week. Cupcakes. There are seven other stores in Urban Ladder, but the first one in Domlur. This is a special day for them.
All the attention will be elsewhere though. In the same week that Urban Ladder celebrated its first anniversary, IKEA, the world’s largest and most prominent furniture retailer, is opening its first store in Hyderabad, India. Finally, after decades of hard work, IKEA is officially entering India.
The Urban Ladder Store in Domlur is approximately 640 square meters. If you’re looking at the Football World Cup, this comparison is even more topical – it’s the size of the penalty box.
By comparison, the IKEA store in Hyderabad is the size of five football fields.
Analyzing the flow
As of June 2012, a month before the launch of Urban Ladder, IKEA had applied to the Indian Ministry of Commerce with a proposal to invest Rs 8,200 crore ($ 1.2 billion) and open 25 stores in India. Urban Ladder co-founders Ashish Goel and Rajeev know that Srivastava is coming from today. Pepperfry — Some furniture retailer founded a few months ago. The two companies opened six years early and have since raised over $ 300 million. And both have adopted the same start-up – e-commerce companies that sell furniture and home furnishings on their websites. The idea seemed to be this: stay online and avoid IKEA on its home turf.
Now that plan is in motion. Both online players are heading in the direction they want to escape. After all, if you know that a company called IKEA, which is not known for half the dimensions, has clearly indicated its intention to build dozens, why would you build physical stores? Why try to fight turf that works to the benefit of your competitor, who has decades of experience in 24 countries, the world’s largest supply chain and $ 42 billion in annual revenue? Why this delay? It seems like Twitter suddenly announced that it was going to build post offices. Or if you decide to set up a Flipkart shopping mall. It didn’t make sense.
Between the time IKEA announced its intentions in 2012 and when it finally came, the answer lies in understanding what is happening in India in the online and offline world. It is about understanding IKEA’s ambitions in India and its approach to products. Above all, it is in understanding that retail is one of the most attractive and difficult categories of furniture.