Founded by CEO Madan Kapahi in 1972, Wicker Emporium is a family-owned and operated furniture and home décor retailer headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With twenty-four locations across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, and Ontario, Wicker Emporium has enjoyed over forty years of smart, consistent growth, delivered in boutique concepts.
Now entering the next phase of its development, Wicker Emporium is proud of where it has started and where it is capable of going. Speaking with Madan’s son Raj Kapahi, chief operating officer of Wicker Emporium, it is clear that he is driving the company’s sales and growth through the development of an online sales channel for its high-quality, reasonably priced product offerings.
The company launched its online sales platform earlier this year, and it has recently unveiled its online home delivery services, expanding its reach to markets across Canada, as well as into the United States. With nothing but success on the horizon, it maintains its focus on growing that channel, continuing to offer customers a unique assortment of high-quality products, at a lower price.
Just as it is when you walk through the doors of a Wicker Emporium retail location, the website is welcoming, well organized and easily navigable, even for the most novice internet user. The website showcases the company’s style and its charming, sophisticated, quality product offerings, facilitating an enjoyable online shopping experience for the consumer.
The company has enjoyed a steady increase in online orders since the launch of its home delivery service. Its early success with its online medium signifies the real demand for high-quality products at a reasonable price point. As a result, it has already shipped to new markets in Western Canada and the United States.
The company has established a reliable shipping infrastructure, ensuring its products reach its destinations safely while doing so at a reasonable rate. “We’re finding that the freight rates are actually not prohibitive to get reasonably large size pieces of furniture shipped across the country,” Kapahi explains. Low freight rates allow it to keep its price points low while shipping solid hardwood furniture.
Brick and mortar stores are laden with risk, require huge investments and have substantive overhead costs. Understanding the limitations, Kapahi believes that advancing the company’s online platform will allow it to continue to offer a different type of product to a wider demographic. It had previously been limited to a market of five million customers with its stores in Atlantic Canada and Ontario.
“It’s tough. Expansion through brick and mortar retail locations is very costly and risky, and I think that the online platform is the way to go,” he says. “If we can really grow this online sales channel, then eventually we can offer customers a much better value than it can get through our stores. I don’t think it can get as good a value in any other store in Canada.”
Wicker Emporium offers a unique assortment of solid wood furniture, reclaimed wood furniture, accessories and décor items that are sourced from around the world, bringing global trends to the Canadian market. Not only does it offer exotic, solid wood furniture in the age of veneer and particleboard, it offers products at prices that cannot be beaten.
The company sources direct from the factories, working with a number of vendors in several countries. When sourcing products, Kapahi and his team carefully watch the industry, attending trade and market shows to ensure the products are on trend. He wants to time it so that Wicker Emporium stores “are getting it in just after people are seeing it on HGTV, or seeing it in Canadian House and Home.”
“It’s really exciting for us. Now we’re just going to be putting all the focus and initiative we can on marketing that new channel to people who have never heard of our brand and getting it on the website so that they can see what we have to offer,” says Kapahi.
Increasing its capacity to service all of Canada, as well as developing the increased interest from the United States market, is just the beginning for Wicker Emporium. Kapahi sees a number of opportunities and will be employing several strategies and utilizing a number of marketing channels to help establish the Wicker Emporium brand.
“We’re searching for the product that is the best quality, the best price, and is on trend. I think it’s just a matter of getting the word out. Most people in Canada have never heard of our company and probably aren’t aware of what we’re sourcing and what kind of prices we are able to offer.”
The object is to continue to have its name associated with high product standards and the best prices as the company now focuses on expanding its online capacities through public relations and marketing outreach.
It is expensive to advertise in new markets in an attempt to change people’s pattern of shopping. Acknowledging this, Kapahi is working on three relatively new marketing strategies in order to get the Wicker Emporium brand to be a household name across Canada, including search engine optimization, cross marketing and affiliate marketing.
Through search engine optimization, Wicker Emporium hopes to maximize the traffic to its website by ensuring that products are well categorized. When specific terms are searched, in areas where the company’s product offerings are strong, it must have a strong presence in search results.
Similarly, cross marketing will increase the number of visitors to its website by collaborating with other retailers who may share similar demographics but are not in direct competition. In doing so, companies whose products and services complement Wicker Emporium’s can help to promote its product offerings in new networks, and vice versa, working together to maximize marketability.
Affiliate marketing is the newest marketing strategy being employed as Wicker Emporium works to establish itself with affiliate networks. With online advertising, the goal is to get its brand, as well as its products, onto high traffic websites and blogs that focus on furniture or home décor trends. In exchange for a nominal payment for these services, these sites help build brand exposure and outreach.
Wicker Emporium is in the process of establishing relationships with intermediaries, “that actually track the sales that we are getting as a result of customers that came to our website from these affiliate websites,” explains Kapahi. These professional services will receive a commission to help to direct the company, “based on where I want our brand to be and where I want our brand to go.”
By year end, Wicker Emporium’s products and promotions will be on a number of high-traffic online forums helping to establish the brand. Showcasing its unique, exotic hardwood furniture and home décor accessories, the advertising will help it to bring the latest trends to homes across Canada at affordable prices.
Moving forward, Wicker Emporium will continue to “offer a great product, great value and current trends to as many Canadians, as many customers as we can.” Building on the success of its retail locations, the online platform will further establish Wicker Emporium as a market leader in furniture and home décor markets, supported by its commitment to quality and rooted in family values.