Thought Leaders in E-Commerce: Homeroots CEO Gil Bar-Lev (Part 1) | Sramana Mitra

Posted on Monday, Oct 11th 2021

We are posting all three parts of this interview with Sramana Mitra, here is part 1 — the beginning!

Gil discusses wholesale e-commerce and its complexities. This is an important interview to read for e-commerce retailers who’re looking to buy efficiently, as well as run their businesses in a zero-logistics mode.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as Homeroots.

Gil Bar-Lev: I’m the Founder CEO of Homeroots. Our mission is to be the fastest sales channel. We started with the home furnishing industry in the US but we’re expanding to other geographical areas. I’m a software engineer and I got into e-commerce while I was working for Toys R Us in the early 2000’s. From there, I got involved and expanded to wholesale, retail, logistics, import, and export. I got my undergraduate in Computer Science in Israel and an MBA in Marketing and Finance from Rutgers.

Sramana Mitra: When did you start Homeroots?

Gil Bar-Lev: Homeroots went through different iterations. We pivoted two times before we got to where we are now. We launched Homeroots in late 2018.

Sramana Mitra: Tell me a bit more about the wholesale e-commerce business. What are the trends? What did you see in the industry that triggered this positioning?

Gil Bar-Lev: I had more than two decades of experience in the e-commerce space. Part of that experience was to buy items for sale. Over the years, I got frustrated by the process. The process was that you had to meet with someone and go through a paper catalog. You had to go through some vetting process. Eventually, you’d get a product sheet. It was never what you needed for a proper e-commerce sale.

You had to be very creative with putting those products online and getting the product photography done. If you wanted to scale the business with more products, you had to go through the same process vendor by vendor. That took a lot of time. I said, “What if there is a better way to source products that is a fit for selling on e-commerce?”

I felt like I was not alone in facing this issue. I talked to peers and everybody felt the same. I decided to launch a B2B wholesale platform where products from all over the world can be sold to resellers in the US in an optimized manner. Through that, we eventually found ourselves in the furniture and home décor space.

Sramana Mitra: You went for a category that was logistically complex and difficult. That’s where you found the white space.

Gil Bar-Lev: Yes, because it was hard. That’s what led us to Homeroots.

Sramana Mitra: What kinds of manufacturers did you find who were ready to come on board with you in the beginning.

Gil Bar-Lev: At the beginning, it was go take my product and do whatever you want to do with them.

Sramana Mitra: Does that mean you had to buy those products or you were able to do consignments?

Gil Bar-Lev: I was able to do drop shipping but more for the domestic market. When we started a few years ago, it was mainly domestic wholesalers who were willing to dropship for us. They dumped the whole product information on my team. They didn’t want to get involved at all in putting in the effort.

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