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Last Updated : Jul 07, 2017 05:11 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Urban Ladder brings virtual technology to its offline stores

The company also plans open over 20 new studios through a franchisee model in tier 1 and 2 towns, taking the total offline presence to over 40

Online furniture retailer Urban Ladder will throw open the door to its first full catalogue offline experience center in Bangalore on Saturday, marking its foray into physical stores.

The company started experimenting with the offline model last year when it launched a 750 sq. ft. sofa lounge in HSR Layout, Bangalore.

The company, which is targeting an IPO in the next four years, expects to turn profitable in the next 18 months, on the back of its online-offline strategy.

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According to Urban Ladder’s internal research, 21 percent of customers didn’t get a full sense of the products online. The data also suggested that 45 percent of customers feel that experiencing the products offline validated the price point of the offering.

Based on this data, the company plans to build multiple experience centers across the country, which will also be the primary hub for new product ranges and collections, the company said in a statement.

“We will operate with a strong confluence of design and technology in our experience centers. The key will be to leverage the cross-flow of our online and offline channels to create a fantastic retail experience,” Ashish Goel, CEO and Co-Founder of Urban Ladder, said.

Urban Ladder is using innovative experience-enhancing technologies at its 3,500 sq. ft. experience center to make it a virtual extension of its online store. Customers can experience the products in actual house settings through AR and VR gear technology.

“We’re focused on providing an infinite catalogue experience that is unconstrained by real-estate size & space. Our experience centers will be distinctive on three fronts: cohesive catalogue experience, seamless buying process, and inspiring visual merchandising,” Kaustabh Chakraborty, Senior VP - Retail, Operations & Sourcing, said.

Urban Ladder’s offline push comes three years after its nearest competitor Pepperfry first opened a brand concept store - Studio Pepperfry - in 2014 in Mumbai. The company has now taken the concept to 20 other locations, including Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, and Chandigarh. Pepperfry claims that about 25 percent of its sales is accounted for in the offline space.

The company now plans open over 20 new studios through a franchisee model in tier 1 and 2 towns, taking the total offline presence to over 40.

Urban Ladder plans to set up 10 offline brand experience stores in Bangalore, Delhi, and Mumbai by March 2018, the company said. However, Urban Ladder is unlikely to record on-the-floor sales at these stores, since the company has not yet received approval for a single-brand retail licence from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.

“We are waiting for approval on that end. Till that time, we will see how it goes with the first experience center and then take a call on the format of the other stores,” a company spokesperson said.

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First Published on Jul 7, 2017 05:11 pm
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