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How To Meet Skyrocketing Customer Demand - Crunchy Livin Mama Style
 

How To Meet Skyrocketing Customer Demand

Working From Home AdobeStock_353442447 The global pandemic tested the resilience of businesses, affecting everything from how employees worked to the way they reached their customers. For many businesses, their customers moved online in droves. Since March 2020, online shopping and ecommerce activity has skyrocketed – even in sectors where consumers […]

The global pandemic tested the resilience of businesses, affecting everything from how employees worked to the way they reached their customers. For many businesses, their customers moved online in droves. Since March 2020, online shopping and ecommerce activity has skyrocketed – even in sectors where consumers traditionally prefer to browse in person prior to purchasing. Home buying and interior design were no exception. A recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey found that consumer plans for buying a house have increased year-over-year.

As people spent more time at home, or bought new homes, the desire to freshen up living spaces increased. To meet this soaring demand, furniture manufacturers and design companies restructured their supply chains and scaled operations. For Modsy, a leading online interior design service, the pandemic prompted the company to make critical adjustments. I had the chance to sit down with Modsy CEO and cofounder, Shanna Tellerman, to learn more about how the company adjusted its strategy to meet skyrocketing customer demand. 

Gary Drenik: Tell me about your background and why you started Modsy?

Shanna Tellerman: I’ve always been passionate about the intersection of design and technology. I founded my first 3D technology company, Sim Ops Studios, after finishing graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University. At Sim Ops, we launched a cloud-based 3D game platform called Wild Pockets and we were eventually acquired by Autodesk. I stayed on with Autodesk for over two years as the Product Line Manager to help launch the Autodesk Cloud before moving over to Google Ventures. While working at GV my husband and I moved into a new apartment, and it was during this move that I realized designing a home and buying furniture is hard. I couldn’t visualize how anything I saw online would look in my space and I didn’t have the design skills to put it all together. After surveying others, I quickly realized that this was a common problem in need of a modern solution, and I started Modsy with the vision of combining affordable design services with world class 3D technology to change the way we shop for the home.

Drenik: According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey, more than half (54%) of consumers surveyed said they would prefer to work for a company that allows them to work from home rather than in the office, an increase from 42% last year. The transition to remote work has been enormous. How has this impacted growth of the online design industry?

Tellerman: When people were forced to spend more time at home in early 2020, many realized their spaces needed a refresh and that the way they would be using their homes had evolved. With a new more flexible work environment people are moving into bigger homes, remodeling their existing homes and/or repurposing their existing rooms for new purposes. The pandemic has accelerated many shifts that were already underway such as online shopping, virtual services and a more flexible work environment, all of which have benefited the home décor and interior design industries.

Modsy sits at the intersection of all of these trends as the company was built to enable our customers to access professional design help virtually without the price tag of traditional interior design.  Modsy has grown tremendously in the last few years before and following the pandemic and yet there is still so much opportunity ahead as we have barely scratched the surface of the addressable market for designer services and a more personalized shopping experience for the home.

Drenik: Considering the increased customer demand for online home design, how can firms meet this demand and scale for continued growth?

Tellerman: At the onset of the pandemic in 2020 we decided to counteract the anxiety around the future by investing in foundational infrastructure for the business, specifically a new financial management system. We felt that if a recession came to be we would want to be in a stronger position on the other side. What we had not anticipated was that the recession never came to be and instead demand for our service soared. With our cloud ERP Oracle NetSuite in place, we were focused on establishing a flexible and scalable foundation for continued growth now and into the future.

While the business may seem simple on the surface it’s complex behind the scenes. We are a software developer, a professional interior design service, and an online ecommerce marketplace all in one.  We even manufacture our own line of furniture. With NetSuite, we are gaining data-driven insights in the most complex parts of our business and automating manual tasks. Investing in technology has been and will continue to be a competitive advantage at Modsy.

Drenik: What challenges do online design firms face and how have you overcome them?

Tellerman: The supply chain and related disruptions continue to be a big challenge for any consumer goods company. Modsy has a data-obsessed culture and this has helped us mitigate some of those challenges. Leveraging the data around which suppliers and SKUs are impacted by shipping delays most frequently will help us better route demand to the suppliers and SKUs shipping fastest. This visibility also helps enhance customer experiences because we can optimize our recommendations for products that will ship faster. Having a single source of truth for data across the organization – including supply chain, inventory and financials – is becoming more critical as our business scales in size and complexity. During unpredictable times, we are always searching for data that helps us make the best possible decisions for our customers and our business.

Drenik: Many firms have started online and later opened brick-and-mortar stores. How do you see the online design category developing? Will more firms begin to expand to physical locations?

Tellerman: We have been and will always be driven by our customer’s needs. At the moment we do not have plans for in person stores because our customers have clearly told us they value the online and virtual nature of our design services. The main thing customers hope to experience in person is the comfort level of an item and/or the feeling of a material, but these can be easily solved through detailed reviews and samples that are shipped to your home. While I believe there could be physical manifestations of design in the future I believe it will always come in support of an online first model.  

Drenik: Thanks Shanna, for your insights on the online interior design industry and your discussion about how Modsy adopted technology to support its continued growth. It was great learning more about the company.

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