Airbnb for furniture e-commerce, yeah, you heard me

It is said the furniture e-commerce is billions of money business in China and still a blue ocean, especially targeted at middle-class customers who desire high-end quality yet still price sensitive. The online penetration rate is estimated to be less than 3%. Bottleneck?

-furniture is often a big ticket item for the household

-the touch&feel offline experience is essential to impact the purchase decision

The list should go on…

It does not mean quite a few startups have not tried to crack the nut. For instance,

-a leading startup Meilele had a humble beginning on Taobao platform e-commerce but managed to achieve substantial success to walk out of the Alibaba ecosystem, built its independent online store, then established nationwide offline experience centers. A wizard of O2O!

-A startup like Liweijia plays around the online model of “custom-made” and “personalization”

However, based on the data from the past 3 years, the death toll of furniture e-commerce remains high.

Today comes an interesting one “I’am at home”.  A company aims to cut all the middle man and provide the premium quality of the furniture at the lowest price possible. Concerning overcome the obstacle of touch&feel, how about a tour of the buyer’s home to check out the furniture piece you like? Yes, the founder infuses the spark of “Airbnb”, saving the cost of operating offline presence. An authentic product review in a real home environment!The incentive for buyers to open their home door is the 5% commission for each conversion generated from your home visits.

The founder thought he had conceived a killer idea, nevertheless; not until after he had been knocked down by over 100 VCs did he meet nation’s 2 most prestigious investors who chose to bet on his venture. One is China’s most powerful female Midas whose iconic deal is JD.com and the other is literally the “GodFather” of China’s bike-sharing boom. So far this startup has raised USD 17 million in A round. All these do not guarantee a quick win, but at least elevate the startup to an advantageous position.

Some still cast their doubts on its  “quasi-Airbnb” element, wondering how many buyers are that willing to open their home as the showroom, but it is exactly the notion of sharing economy in the founder’s pitch story that struck the chord with the latest internet trend. Now the founder is working on the partnership with cafe, airport, hotel, restaurant etc as more affordable and convenient brick&mortar demo for his e-furniture business.

Author: Cecilia Wu