Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as Bellacor. What do you do? What kind of customers do you serve?
Brenda Boehler: I’m the CEO of Bellacor and Bellacor Pro. We are the experts in an online space that has a passionate following in the lighting and home furnishing space. We are a pure play. We are a self-funded, organically-grown e-commerce company. We live in the lightning and home furnishings world. We’re an online retailer.
What I really wanted to share with you today is the trends that are going on in retailing in general and also within our home furnishing space. I’ve been in retail all of my career. The vast majority of the time has been with direct to consumer. It has always been how can you combine unique products and understand consumer needs. That’s where you create something special.
There’s this seismic shift. I know that I’m making that sound extreme but there is. There’s this seismic shift of brick-and-mortar bankruptcies. I put it on three main things. One is, we’ve overbuilt our malls and we’ve overbuilt our brick-and-mortar footprint. Consumer behavior is changing. With that, other shifts are occurring. That’s the fact that people are wanting experiences and they want to enjoy restaurants.
Those three factors are having fewer and fewer people taking the time to go into brick-and-mortar stores and be consumers because that experience just really isn’t exciting to them right now. Having been in retail for a long time, there will be shifts back and forth between online and retail. We are really well-positioned with those three changing factors. The high adoption rate online is a trend that we believe we will experience over the next seven to ten years.
I should take a step back and tell you a little bit about the home furnishing market. It’s estimated that home furnishing and lighting is estimated to be over $250 billion. It’s continuing to grow. What’s exciting about that is that the market is highly fragmented. It ranges from mom-and-pop furniture stores in small towns to large brick-and-mortar category killer stores, to online.
Sramana Mitra: What’s the size of the online home furnishing market right now?
Brenda Boehler: The online space is really only about 7% to 9% of that and growing significantly faster.
Sramana Mitra: What are the drivers that are pushing offline to online in the home furnishing space specifically? Let me give you a couple of examples of the kind of answer I’m looking to that. The mattress space is on a tear right now. There’re a lot of mattress companies that are going online. The online mattress space is really big at the moment.
Talk to me specifically about home furnishings but also talk to me about lighting, which is your core competency area. Talk to me about what’s happening in this space and what are the drivers.
Brenda Boehler: It’s best to think about two key influencers in the home furnishing and lighting space. Think about HGTV. It is a channel that is dedicated to home and home renovations. You take HGTV and you go to a digital platform like Pinterest. Pinterest is all about inspiration. It’s for people who have passion a hobby or their home, or some other activity. They have a forum to really pull together inspiration boards. HGTV and Pinterest are major influencers in getting people to shop online for their home.
The real problem with that, though, is that decorating is difficult for people. It looks really easy on a Fixer Upper show on HGTV. As you build your idea board, it looks really easy. When it comes to understanding a category like lighting and what size of a fixture could fit in my room, it gets difficult.