Leading SMEs: marketplace innovation


Considering the homewares and furniture sector is not one that is innovative in terms of products and their basic functions, it's perhaps no wonder that entrepreneurs are instead creating innovative means to sell, especially as small companies in an industry where competition is driving businesses to consolidate. House of Home is an online marketplace for furniture and homeware retailers to reach larger and more diverse segments than they would otherwise be able to.

Founded by Stephen Jones, and now consisting of a small team that runs its offices in Melbourne, Victoria. Their platform boasts a database of more than 100 000 nationwide home owners and builders, as well as over 400 businesses selling through their site.

They operate within the website now known as Marketplacer; a site designed to function as a platform for retailers - a marketplace. Founders Sam Salter and Jason Wyatt noted that such sites were particularly effective at marketing to companies who wanted a large-scale, effective platform. At House of Home retailers can register and have their products advertised and sold in one spot, with the already acquired reputation of an online marketplace that consumers can trust, as opposed to trying to establish yourself "from scratch."


Social media to engage as well as inform

House of Home use social media extensively, not simply to promote products, but also to inspire. In this way they establish themselves as an authority on taste and style, something many other furniture retailers attempt to do, but ultimately often fail at. Style tends to be perceived as highly individualistic, therefore having several designers in one place is much better aligned with consumer expectations than many other retailers whose image often leans far too heavily towards the mass-produced and slightly soulless. 


Taking advantage of others' neglect

A CPA survey released recently reports that Australian small businesses are not as good as their Asian counterparts at using social media to promote and market themselves. House of Home is not one of those businesses however, and others would probably do well to take note of the benefits in engaging with potential customers in a more broader, but also in a sense deeper way. The major segments that shop for homewares and furniture are 54 years old and younger, making the likelihood they turn to social media for relevant information more likely.

Leading SMEs: marketplace innovation


Being an influencer rather than a follower

You could easily assume that if a business successfully sets themselves up as a paragon of any field, whether it be style or supply chains, they are positioning themselves to have customers that are loyal despite changes in trends (although the business of course has to be on top of said trends at all times).


The way in which House of Home finds innovative ways to market and sell, appears to be a reflection of a culture in which flexibility and innovation are highly valued concepts, Jones has previously stated that employees are able to have input into their working hours, and decide to work from home when possible. It seems to make sense, considering the many discussions that exist on the benefits of a strong, unique company culture.

The high level of competition in the industry requires players to have a clear strategy and target market. Companies that provide niche products or services are able to capitalise on several growing specialty segments within the industry

 IBISWorld Industry Report G4213


How it ties in with a strong marketing presence is through a continual engagement outreach to their customers, and with their base of retailers and traders. They have found a way to rise above the noise by doing something which is accessible to everyone, but so few are taking full advantage of. House of Home are leading, not just through their business but through their marketing - which means they have the chance to create an unmatched depth of loyalty to their brand, whilst they themselves can keep what they carry diverse and changeable.

It's not one way of doing business, it's how it should be done.


Lina Barfoot

Editor at SavvySME

All things marketing and advertising interest me greatly.