In a fresh round of funding, online furniture and home decor start-up Urban Ladder has raised $12 million from investors Kalaari Capital, Saif Partners, Sequoia Capital and Steadview Capital. The money will be used by the company for an omnichannel expansion. Development on both online and offline fronts is “a decisive step towards profitability in FY 18-19” according to the company.
Urban Ladder started off its journey as a solely online player in 2012. It’s offline retail strategy, started in July 2017. Now, its flagship Domlur store in Bengaluru alone garners a footfall of more than 3,500 families a month. With the fresh round of funding, Urban Ladder will now launch their fourth store in Bengaluru this month.
For the next phase of expansion, the company continues to study other cities, aiming to open 15 - 20 stores across India by March next year. “Our offline expansion in Bengaluru has been extremely well-received by customers for the differentiated furniture-shopping experience. This has energized us to chart the next course of our retail journey and build India’s largest furniture brand by March 2019,” says Ashish Goel, CEO & Co-Founder, Urban Ladder.
The latest investment will also aid Urban Ladder in enhancing user experience by bidding high on virtual and augmented reality in their offline stores. Urban Ladder has its own augmented reality mobile application ‘Living Spaces’. The application enables shoppers to view a life-size furniture model in real time.
“We will experiment with different formats and category specific stores in different cities. We will continue to build on the VR/AR technology as this becomes more consumer friendly and mainstream. Because we're now a single-brand in retail, we will also be able to experiment with other categories and strengthen our product strategy,” Rajiv Srivatsa, co-founder of Urban Ladder told Fortune India in an interview.
Many other furniture and home décor portals have placed their bets on the virtual space to drive both online and offline sales. In 2016, rival Pepperfry introduced virtual reality studio tours in Mumbai where buyers could experience a real shopping environment from the comfort of their homes on their mobile or laptop devices. Smaller startups like Lamya & Tanya’s Home Furnishing and Homelane also allow customers to try different furnishing options using virtual reality.