We would like to thank Orlando Zayas, CEO of Katapult for sharing this interview with HomeRoots CEO, Gil Bar-Lev and we continue to share new developments on our channel as well. Please enjoy!
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
There was not a single moment of “Aha”. It was an idea that brewed over time after getting frustrated with the way B2B transactions were made. The time it took to buy something and get it and the whole buying method reminded me of the days before the internet. I picked the furniture industry because of its antiquated phase and the extra logistical challenges that don’t exist in many of the other categories.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When I first started, I was attending trade shows to recruit domestic wholesalers to sell on the platform. The challenge was to explain exactly what we do and the added value. From the beginning, I knew deep inside that we can change the industry. I changed my pitch and the decision-makers I was pitching to make them better understand the benefits of HomeRoots.co .
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Every business has its challenges, but we are on a continuous growth track and it’s exciting to see how our growth is enabling us to offer what I had in mind years ago. When I hear from companies that we are making an impact on them and on their employees’ lives, that makes us want to continue pushing even further.
If you believe and you are passionate about what you are doing, then you have a chance to succeed.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
HomeRoots stands out because of our capability to put the most amount of eyeballs on products offered in the shortest time out there.
A good example is one of our customers had growing sales on Amazon for three years and then they hit a plateau in sales. They were looking for alternative sales channels and tried others, but none of them really made a dent.
We consulted with them on the products to sell and within less than a year, they were able to sell more on HomeRoots.co than what they sold in three years on Amazon.
We stand out because we help our customers sell more furniture and home decor online.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Have patience and financial backing because it’s a long journey. If you want to invent something new, it takes time and money. Especially if you want to disrupt an entire industry like HomeRoots.co is doing!
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share a few examples of different ideas that eCommerce businesses are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?
Being able to pivot and change is very important to running a successful eCommerce business. Many companies didn’t change their habits or do anything different from what they were doing before the pandemic as far as their processes or systems. What did happen is that everyone faced inventory challenges with continuous increases in cost and they had to make sure that new products with inventory get the exposure that they need as quickly as possible.
Amazon and even Walmart are going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
For the many retailers that are out there that don’t take eCommerce seriously, I would say wake up. Most of the D2C companies that are international still rely on domestic infrastructure to ship the goods to American consumers if they want to complete with fast delivery that already exists here. For the giant retailers, I would say to partner up with technology companies that can help them accelerate their onboarding of products onto the eCommerce stores because it’s all about the newness. Currently, HomeRoots is a tech company that enables that in the furniture and home décor categories.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start an eCommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Some CEOs behave like consumers when they reach out to their suppliers. It’s all about the relationship. Be humble, share why your business is different, add value to the supplier, and be respectful.
In your experience, which aspect of running an eCommerce brand tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Product identification/Merchandizing. It’s very challenging to identify which product a brand should sell because the brand needs to manufacture it and invest money in inventory and marketing. That’s a major risk without the proper data points and experience in the entire business flow.
Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging eCommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?
HomeRoots helps with product identification by aggregating sales across multiple retailers and small businesses. We understand the market and we assist our suppliers with market analysis and demand prediction. If you want to sell on Amazon or even on Walmart, there are many tools out there, but if you want to sell on a much larger scale, partner with HomeRoots.co .
As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies an eCommerce business should use to increase conversion rates?
The best strategy is to have superior content. You have to have unique content with as many images and even videos as possible. Without it, you don’t stand out in the crowd. Customers will spend a few seconds on a product page before they make their decision. It’s a “dress to impress” type of product offering.
Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that an eCommerce business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
A trusted brand is something that takes years to build. It’s not just a single thing or two that will make a brand trusted and loved. It starts with superior content and customer service. You have to be open to feedback from your customers and iterate accordingly.
One of the main benefits of shopping online is the ability to read reviews. Consumers love it! While good reviews are of course positive for a brand, poor reviews can be very damaging. In your experience what are a few things a brand should do to properly and effectively respond to poor reviews? How about other unfair things said online about a brand?
Brands should understand why a negative review was posted. Many times, it’s really due to reasons like a delay with a carrier and or defective/damaged product. Not all the reasons are something that the brand can directly control or that can make an immediate change, but they can control whether they decide to compensate the customer for it and then deal in the backend with the carriers or their suppliers.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful e-commerce business? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Identifying which products to sell and at what price points
- Ensuring quality control of the products
- Understanding basic accounting concepts.
- Servicing customers exceptionally
- Understanding of logistics
How can our readers further follow you online? https://www.linkedin.com/in/gil-b-2b45b84/This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this! https://www.facebook.com/byhomeroots