Riding the Retail Tsunami - An Inside Look into Simpli Home
No industry today has remained untouched by the dizzying pace of technological advances, and the most successful businesses, as well as the minds behind them, have proven able to plan, adapt, and drive change. Erez Weinreich, Chief Strategy Officer of Simpli Home Ltd., a maker of furniture and furnishing, embodies the ideal of a technology-ready executive: a global operation with offices in China, Vietnam, India, Toronto, Canada, and Portland, Oregon. As one of three founding partners to what is now a thriving e-commerce platform, Weinreich and his associates are riding what he calls the oncoming “retail tsunami.”
Weinreich and his partners founded Simpli Home Ltd. in 2001, before ecommerce was even a ripple. Originally a home goods wholesaler, the company designed, produced, and sold products to big-box retailers and mass merchandisers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Germany. Weinreich explains the firm’s business model: “We realized that it was important for our success to establish offices in each country in which we did business, staffed with locals who then worked and managed our relationships with our factories. Further, we understood, early on, that great design was our key to success, so we quickly built an expertise in designing on-trend products to bring to the North American market. We created a process of testing and quality control to ensure that the products we brought to market were of the highest quality.”
Hands-on attention to staff, detail, and standards were integral to the operation from the beginning. “We had good success, almost right from the beginning. Like all companies, we had ups and downs, but basically we were growing and profitable,” recalls Weinreich. The company’s next era of growth paralleled that of the dotcom era. Upon seeing opportunity in ecommerce, management decided to shift gears and Simpli Home was born as a stand-alone brand, offering high-quality furniture directly to the consumer. The company’s pivot to ecommerce led to dramatic changes in its operational worldview. Drawing from its long history as a home goods wholesaler, Simpli Home was born. The company started its new adventure bringing a handful of its previously designed solid wood furniture made in Vietnam to its first warehouse(s) in the U.S. and Canada. Things started off slowly with sales beginning at a few pieces per month and growing month by month. When the first Black Friday/Cyber Monday came, things changed dramatically and the company realized the scope of the dotcom opportunity. As sales exploded exponentially during that week, Simpli Home was quickly left with empty warehouses. Over the next few years, the company continued to grow rapidly, becoming one of the leading online furniture companies in North America.
This full rebrand and repositioning of the company led to a restructuring of its operations. Today, Simpli Home imports over 500,000 pieces of furniture per year from over 30 factories located in India, Vietnam, and China. Its products are stored in four warehouses located throughout the U.S., occupying over 600,000 square feet. Its global team of Quality Control, Design, and Operational staff ensures the appeal and quality of each product. With over 150 employees, the company continues to grow rapidly, and foresees unlimited growth. As Weinreich says: “We are only at the beginning of the ecommerce revolution; we can expect continued dramatic disruption of the current retail model.”
Currently, Simpli Home has a product list of over 1,000 products and expects to grow to 2,000 products by 2018. “We understand that this change in retail is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so we are employing all of our resources to quickly mirror the exponential growth of the ecommerce world,” Weinreich states. “We have just rolled out a new international Design Hub located in Canada and Vietnam to allow us to quickly create new designs and bring them to market.”
Making the shift from big-box retail to direct-to-consumer ecommerce sales has provided an ever-growing list of benefits for Simpli Home. The company has grown broader and deeper in every aspect of its business from supply chain, to ecommerce fulfillment, to product development and management, to marketing and branding. Technologically, the company is a leader, employing advanced tech tools for product management, inventory forecasting, business analytics, and intercompany communications. Living in the ecommerce space has required the company to become and stay nimble, flexible, and fluid in anticipating continuous change.
Simpli Home has been able to save money by effectively managing its global supply chain, producing high quality goods in well run factories, leveraging cost efficiencies in countries around the world, and using effective distribution networks. These cost savings are transferred to the end-user who then shops for Simpli Home’s high-quality goods, online, at a great price. As the company’s customer base grows, so does its ability to analyze trends. Because of the immediacy of online shopping, ecommerce platforms such as Simpli Home are able to respond quickly to customer needs.
Simpli Home celebrates its diversity. “Our company is transparent and encourages creativity, discussion, and fraternity in all offices around the world,” Weinreich declares. “We celebrate our success by hosting inter-company events, International Directors’ meetings, recognizing many religious and national holidays, travelling to different countries with our people and their families, and giving back to the world communities by supporting many charities such as PLAN, and Hand In Hand.“
Source: Business View Magazine