Digitisation has barely left any sector untouched with home decor being one of them. Everything needed to ameliorate your home can be bought online, including vintage home decor. The London-based startup Vinterior offers its online marketplace to consumers who need vintage decor options and it has now raised £8 million in its series A funding round.
The latest investment for Vinterior was led by Active Partners and will be utilised to accelerate its international expansion and growth. Company’s existing investors, including Venrex, also participated in the round. The startups will use the funds to also add new talent to its existing team of 43 employees.
In conversation with UKTN, the company’s CEO and co-founder Sandrine Zhang Ferron adds more, saying, “We have been fully remote since March 2020, so will add more people both in the UK and abroad, mainly in Product, Engineering and Marketing, in order to invest in our customer and seller experience on the platform and expand internationally.“
Tom Profumo, Investor at Active Partners, comments, “With the rise of recommerce and the circular economy, consumers are increasingly prioritising sustainability alongside style, driving increasing demand for vintage. We’re thrilled to be working with Sandrine and her team, and can’t wait to see what this next chapter holds.”
The vintage experience
Buying vintage home decor need not be always expensive, and that’s what Vinterior aims to accomplish with its services. The startups’ online marketplace hosts over 1800 sellers on its platform, who offer vintage and antique products. “We also have internal curation guidelines and review products before they go live on the platform to remove items that don’t meet those guidelines. As we add between 500 and 1000 products everyday, we have built an automated curation tool that supports our manual curation,“ Ferron adds.
The startup also doesn’t fix prices for listings on its website as that control is handed over to sellers. They do charge a 2.5% plus VAT service fee to customers for running their platform better. Furthermore, the CEO says Vinterior is not aiming to be an ‘elitist’ platform and thus, one should be able to find something that fits their budget. The startup is also working on improving its search and recommendation engine constantly, to better help customers find the items they desire.
As for the startups’ business model, when a buyer places an order, they collect the payment and the order details are sent to the seller. The seller then delivers the product to the buyer, after which when the return period expires, payment is released to the seller after the startups’ 15% + VAT commission.
COVID and more challenges
Running an online marketplace that connects hundreds of buyers with sellers and handles thousands of listings is not an easy feat. Ferron notes that the platform has an inventory of over 200K items and helping customers find the right product quickly is an interesting brand and technical challenge. Another challenge was to build an automated product creation system and curate it to do its work fast, with low error, and at scale.
Shipping vintage furniture to more than 1800 locations in Europe is another challenge in itself. “As we do not own or hold any inventory, we have a very asset light, capital efficient and scalable business model. However, one challenge is that it makes it harder to offer a standardised delivery experience to our customers,” Ferron says. “Fortunately, we partner with professional sellers who can handle logistics very well, even if Brexit has added red tape for the UK – EU trade.“
Like most startups, COVID impacted Vinterior in a negative manner. Their seller communities were facing challenges due to lockdowns and it was difficult for them to source or deliver products. “Our priority was to help them navigate through those challenges and support their online business so that they could continue to make sales despite having their shops closed. At the same time, we reviewed our company expenditures and cut costs where we could in order to weather the storm,” Ferron says.
Eventually, COVID is said to have helped the company become a better business. They managed to up their revenue by 120% as the startup became more cash efficient and reached profitability in June 2020. “Since then, we’ve been able to acquire customers profitably; each order costs us £50 and generates a gross margin of £100,” Ferron concludes.