By Mario Toneguzzi
Vancouver-based ecommerce furniture retailer Article continues to see incredible growth in its operations with more revenue, more staff, more warehouses and a bigger headquarters.
Every aspect of the business is growing for the furniture and home decor brand.
“We started Article because we saw an opportunity to make a difference. Furniture-buying was a frustrating, time-consuming, expensive experience. People were paying too much, product quality and customer service were inconsistent, and the whole process took way too long. We knew there had to be a better way,” says Baig.
“We’re engineers by training and started by looking at the inefficiencies that existed in the traditional retail model. We discovered that when it came to furniture, forgoing the brick and mortar experience would allow us to offer a quality of product that is unrivalled for the price, streamline the shipping and delivery process, and deliver a remarkably better experience.
We were confident we could make beautiful, high-quality furniture accessible.”
Just how much growth has the company seen?
In 2016, revenue ballooned by six times and by two times in 2017.
In 2017, Article did $100 million USD in sales and it intends to just about double revenue again this year.
In August 2017, it relocated its headquarters from 5,000 square feet to 115,000 square feet in Vancouver’s industrious Strathcona neighbourhood. It’s now located at 1010 Raymur Avenue.
The number of employees grew from 40 at the end of 2016 to 150 at the end of 2017 and more than 100 were headquarter employees.
The company now has warehouses in Seattle, Los Angeles, New Jersey and Jacksonville.
Baig attributes the company’s growth and success to its obsession of delivering a truly remarkable experience.
“We don’t just aim to be a little bit better, but so much better that people talk about it. As a result our customers don’t hesitate to recommend us to their friends and family - and purchase from us again themselves - which has created a phenomenal foundation of organic growth,” he says.
“For example, the delivery experience and speed is extremely important to our customers, but can be complex when it comes to bulky items like sofas. A traditional retailer could take up to three to four months to deliver a sofa. Today, we deliver more than 10,000 articles of furniture a month. In 2017, more than 80 per cent of our orders were delivered in less than two weeks, and 30 per cent in under a week. We have even begun some same and next-day deliveries in our major markets. When you get that level of service, and you are saving more than 30 per cent on the comparable quality product without sacrificing style, why would you shop anywhere else?”
Baig says the retailer continues to see huge potential for growth in the U.S. and Canada and it plans to stay laser-focused on this market, building a lasting brand that delivers remarkable furniture experiences: high-quality furniture at unrivalled prices, delivered fast through a convenient experience, by taking a digital-first approach.
“For 2018, the delivery experience is going to be a big focus for us. We’ve recently expanded our distribution network and added a fourth warehouse in Jacksonville, Florida to help further drive down delivery times — it is located within an eight-hour drive of 60 million potential customers — which we anticipate will be fully operational by the end of Q1,” he says.
“Also, we will grow new and existing product categories throughout the year to ensure we’re meeting the needs of our customers. We plan to nearly double our existing product range and strengthen our offering in key product categories like bedroom and outdoor.”
Baig says that what makes Article different is that it looks at the furniture industry with a digital-first mindset. It doesn’t think or operate the way a traditional furniture retailer does. It approaches the experience in a new way, applying technology to get high-quality furniture to customers faster.
Baig often uses the word experience because it reflects the company’s commitment to the entire end-to-end process: discovery, inspiration, shopping, delivery, setup, customer support and care.
“Our focus is on building and maintaining relationships instead of processing transactions. This customer-centricity, combined with our ability to unlock efficiency through the application of technology, allows us to create remarkably better furniture experiences,” he says.
“The retail landscape is changing, and this is driven by customer expectations. The demand for convenience, selection, and value is currently being best met by direct-to-consumer ecommerce brands. As long as we continue to create more value for people to shop online, ecommerce will continue to grow. I believe the key is to listen to your customer, observe, understand, and embrace the truth so that you’re always innovating and creating experiences that truly add value. Whoever is able to best fulfill those needs — online, offline, or some mix of the two — will see growth in the years to come.”
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.