Monday, February 27, 2017

Meet Chris Harrison, Online Office Furniture Retailer

Chris Harrison is a UK online retailer specializing in white office furniture. For the past couple of years, he was run the hugely popular Kima Office Furniture website which sells high-quality office furniture to businesses in the UK, including England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

In this interview, he talks about how he launched the website, marketing tips, and future plans.

1. Could you tell us a little more about your business and how you got started?

Thanks for the interview opportunity! I started up Kima Office Furniture a couple of years ago with the aim of providing low cost white office furniture to the UK market. It's a purely online business, and I don't actually hold any stock. I work with manufacturers to simply sell their items online, and then get them to ship, but all the sales go via my website. It's a method called drop-shipping.

I got started because I previously worked in retail and saw an opportunity to leverage relationships I already have, in tandem with my existing knowledge of the office furniture market. White office furniture is a growing trend in the UK, so it made sense to specialize in this particular niche (but with plans to grow).

2. How did you go about the launch of website as it looks very user-friendly and well-designed?

Initially, we were on an eCommerce platform called Magento. It did us good for a few months, but to be honest I found it quite complex to manage. Someone then recommended a system called Shopify, and we've been running on that for the last 24 months or so.

It was really easy to set up, and it means we can manage orders of white office desks, white bench desks, drawers, pedestals, chairs, and everything else that we sell very easily. It handles all the billing, invoices, and management like an absolute dream. I can recommend it to anybody else thinking about selling office furniture online!

In terms of design, we looked at other suppliers, saw what they were doing well, and then tried to improve upon that. We invested a lot of time in user-experience testing and ensuring that all the potential conversion points on the website were working as best that they could do.

3. You spoke earlier about trends in white office furniture; are you able to expand on that a little?

Of course, I love talking about this stuff! Over the last five years, there has been a move towards more minimal, clean, and modern looking design--and that's now being seen in office workplace environments. If you have ever walked into an Apple store, you will know the type of look that I mean.

White office furniture is very trendy at the moment as it complements this style very well. When you have clean looking white office desks in your workplace, with nice brightly colored wall art, it can create a great impression with clients (and employees). In fact, there is some research that points towards this type of office design even helping with productivity. Visit our website to see the whole range including desks with drawers.

4. So with that in mind, what are your top-selling white office furniture items?

At the moment, we are selling a lot of white cantilever and panel leg office desks. They are modular by design, meaning companies can buy in bulk and then arrange them into cluster or working spaces. Open plan offices and call center environments are the types of businesses that we often supply to.

We also find that white office desks are also popular with home office users, in particular those who use Macs. I guess these are the types of people who appreciate the aesthetics of white and the types of furniture that we sell!

5. I can kind of see how that would be the case! So what are your plans for the rest of 2017?

Currently, we are liaising with some new manufacturers who are based abroad. There are some great designs coming out from Germany at the moment, so we are looking to set those office desks up for sale on our website.

We are also looking to expand out from white office furniture collections to also include more traditional colors such as maple, oak, and walnut. We understand that not everybody wants a white item, so we need to try and satisfy the demand of both existing clients and potential new ones!

6. And finally, do you have any advice for anybody looking to set up their own online business?

Apart from never give up? My main advice would be to be customer-focused. It's easy to set up an eCommerce website these days with software such as Shopify, but the real business will take off if you focus on customer service and retention.

We offer constant telephone support and advice to our customers, as well as follow-up emails to anybody who buys from our website. We know that one happy customer can potentially be a referral point for multiple new ones, so we make sure that we take care of everybody who visits our website as much as we can.

Thanks, Chris!

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