Co-founders Pat Reeves and Rohan Blacker founded Sofa.com with the aim to flog low-cost, high-quality sofas to the masses with zero hassle.
Part of this pledge involved ditching the industry’s traditional “12 week” delivery rule, and getting the products to their new owners as quickly as possible. But it’s expensive to house every single item in a warehouse, so the pair have honed a special system to ensure that 99 per cent of items are in stock around the clock.
“All of our sofas have removable covers,” says Blacker. “We keep 50 carcasses of a particular sofa in stock, and the 250 covers in different colours and fabrics. So, the order comes in, we pick a carcass and we drape it with whatever cover the customer requires. This means we can keep quite a large amount of stock.”
After two years in business, the pair have also picked up on buying trends and popular styles. “We’ve got a pretty clear idea of the types of things that people ordinarily order,” says Blacker. “If you want to order something unusual, a strange colour of crushed velvet, for example, we might not stock it. If you want to buy an oatmeal sofa, without a doubt we’ll have it.”
Sofa.com customers have the added bonus that the firm manufactures in England, so even if products are out of stock, there’s no six-week delay while products are shipped from China. “We usually deliver within a week,” says Blacker. “The maximum people have to wait is around four weeks. Our record is within 90 minutes.”
The London-based company turned over £4m last year. And margins are pretty healthy at 45 per cent.