Turkish brand Vivense is one of the leading furniture e-commerce players in Europe, making over one million deliveries last year alone and utilising a business model that combines online and offline. Here, RLI speaks with Founder Kemal Erol about how the company has grown in its home country and how it aims to grow further afield in the future.
Vivense presents unique products to create beautiful homes through its interior design service and a well-curated product selection that is inspirational, innovative and professional all at once. They envisage a bright future while respecting heritage, environment and humanity.
They offer products from selected manufacturers and manage things every step of the way, from picking the products from the manufacturers’ site all the way through to delivery and after-sales service with over 110,000sq m warehouses across Turkey and the UK.
Today the business operates both online and offline, and its current offline portfolio consists of 82 stores in Turkey and one in the UK, with three more UK sites in the pipeline and due to open by the end of the year.
The onset of Covid-19 across the world saw the company’s online sales increase dramatically, particularly in the homeware section. While this took place during lockdowns, since then the company have observed that physical retail is picking up and people are once again enjoying buying in their stores and interacting with interior designers and experiencing the products first-hand.
“After observing these two behaviours, we believe our business model of combining offline and online is the most effective way forward and we have to scale quickly. This has led us to update our plans regarding the growth and to have a faster pace of execution,” explains Vivense Founder Kemal Erol. “We were originally an e-commerce business and during this time of adversity, we have again refocused our efforts on our digital platform. Away from the digital platform, we are working on improving our product selection and have added 44 showrooms to our network in the last year alone, including our first outside of Turkey.”
The first store outside of Turkey was launched on Borough High Street in London just before the winter lockdown in the UK in November last year. A second is due to launch in Richmond later this year.
Operating in Turkey since 2013 and with over 150 interior designers helping customers curate products for their home from over 80 points of sale, they believed that the globally renowned retail city of London was the right place to begin Vivense’s global expansion journey. In the near future, they are looking to have four showrooms open across the UK.
In March this year, they launched their e-commerce website with their own technology infrastructure and are currently offering around a thousand products. Within the next few months, they will be launching their e-commerce activities in Germany and they want to increase the product selection to twenty thousand, which will be a big step for them.
Vivense is all about building an inspiration machine and they are continually looking to improve this machine and its processes. As they do this, their customers become more loyal and more satisfied.
“Our aim is to deliver a good experience to our customers through this machine. Product selection, price, online experience, interior designer advice on our showrooms, and the fulfilment experience are all very important in this machine. In particular, having dedicated interior designers in-store at this price point sets us apart in the market – we concentrate on having a slick e-commerce presence backed up by expert, accessible advice on hand for when shoppers need that proof point. A lot of the time customers will see a sofa online and come in to try it out – they will often then buy it on their phone from the store. This blended experience is crucial,” Erol explains.
When discussing social media and its influence on the brand, the founder explains that they believe n organic growth on social media, but that they also recognise influencers are becoming a major part of this medium, and that it is important for brands like Vivense to engage with them. They are building great relationships with influencers who have a natural affinity with the brand.
As our time with Erol nears its end, we ask him what differentiates the brand, and what the key drivers are behind the brand’s success in Turkey and now in the UK?
“We have a great selection of products with good prices, a good business model and an excellent team with fast execution. All of these elements combined work together to offer customers a good experience when they shop with us.”
Looking towards the future after a turbulent past 18 months in the industry, Erol explains that managing the company’s fast growth is not easy, and it is a challenge to transform the organisation, the processes it goes through and the systems it uses with the pace of growth they are seeing, but that it is a challenge they relish and look forward to working on each day as the brand continues to expand.