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Brosa ramps up showroom strategy

Melbourne-based online furniture retailer Brosa is ramping up its by-appointment-only showroom strategy after trialing the offline approach over the past four months.

“We’re having discussions now about how we can expand it and take it to other cities in Australia. Sydney is a great market,” Brosa founder and CEO Ivan Lim told IRW.

“Over the next six to eight months, we’ll be creating a playbook for how to do that and pushing the showroom option aggressively,” he said.

Lim started Brosa, which means smile in Icelandic, in 2014 to provide designer furniture at a more affordable price point. The online retailer works directly with makers in countries around the world to bring unique furniture designs to market every week.

Since raising $2 million from Air Tree Ventures in 2015, Brosa has experienced rapid growth. The startup now employs over 60 people and is on track to generate strong eight-figure revenue this financial year, according to Lim.

Improving the customer experience has always been a top priority, so the decision to open a showroom was an easy one, Lim said. But finding a showroom approach that reflected Brosa’s alternative offering was more difficult.

“The typical furniture showroom is big and crammed with products from floor to ceiling. We always felt our offering was different and didn’t want to go down that route,” he said.

Instead, Brosa opened a 500sqm by-appointment-only showroom next to its head office in the Collingwood suburb of Melbourne. The space is set up like a home, with defined areas for dining room, living room and bedroom furniture.

Due to the limited bricks-and-mortar footprint, the showroom contains only a small selection of Brosa’s entire range. The retailer, however, doesn’t see this as a disadvantage.

“The main thing customers are looking for is trust. Having a studio where they can come in and see the quality and construction on a selection of pieces lets them know what to expect from the rest of the range,” Lim said.

Showroom visitors can also scan codes on individual pieces of furniture in the showroom to see additional colour and fabric options and watch videos about the maker on a mobile device.

Visitors to the showroom also meet one-on-one with a stylist who guides them through the space and helps make purchase decisions. This is Brosa’s biggest point-of-difference as well as the reason the showroom is by-appointment-only.

“The idea is to get a curated experience with a stylist and create a more personalised experience. We even encourage customers to bring in a floor plan,” he said.

“People are looking for design advice for their home and a big showroom isn’t going to offer that.”

Brosa has been inviting select customers to visit the showroom for the past four months and according to Lim, the reception has been positive.

“We’re booked out two weeks in advance. We’re trying to improve that flow to get as many customers through as possible,” he said.

The furniture startup is now looking to ramp up its offline strategy by marketing the Collingwood space more aggressively and creating similar showrooms in other cities. Lim said the company has seen enough demand to warrant the expansion.

This story first appeared in Inside Retail Weekly, issue 2129. To subscribe, click here

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