Furnishly: The Online Market For Fine Local FurnitureBY: Corey Cummings | July 20, 2012
Furnishly, a Chicago-based online furniture selling marketplace, is looking to replace the abstract user experience of websites like Craigslist by offering a robust, end-to-end platform for shoppers to easily peruse and purchase fine home furnishings in their area. The service also operates as a space where both individual and smaller-name furniture sellers can organize their inventory online and sell directly to local customers.
The startup was founded by Bryon Finke and Katy Manatt during the Fall of last year, though the pair have only been able to dedicate themselves full time to the furniture selling venture in the past few months. Finke said they took a great deal of inspiration from services like Airbnb, which allows users to rent out living spaces for as short as a single night. Similarly to the way Airbnb grew from disorganized Craigslist postings, the creators of Furnishly wanted to capitalize and improve upon the immense furniture listing market left untapped across the web.
“We were sold on the power of extreme network-effect consumer marketplaces, and were interested in finding a space that others were yet excited about,” Finke said. “Transactions that used to happen through Craigslist now had a dynamic, end-to-end platform to exist on, enabling countless transactions that would otherwise never happen.”
In order to create a truly solid and superior platform for selling furniture online, the Furnishly team knew they needed to integrate online purchasing into the service — a missing link in the more abstract online marketplaces. Once a buyer has found the perfect footstool for their living room, they can hit the “add to cart” button just like any other online retailer. Buyers can even organize delivery fees with the furniture seller, if available. The startup makes its share by taking a 10 percent transaction fee from each purchase completed through the website.
According to Finke, Furnishly already has a presence in 27 cities in the US today. The company is currently working on slowly establishing relationships with furniture sellers in the Chicago area. “We have 15 stores signed on to our services in Chicago today, and will likely double that within the next month,” Finke said.
The Chicago company’s ultimate goal is to make Furnishly the go-to service for local furniture businesses to connect with their customers online. “The best sales channel is one in which its product aspect makes the requirement for a physical sales team disappear,” wrote Finke.