Spotlight  


BIG IS BEAUTIFUL

PT Home Center Indonesia (Informa)

PT Home Center Indonesia, the king of Indonesian furniture retail, started as a furniture supermarket targeting the mid-tier market, which was then very much a void unoccupied. A little more than a decade later, despite challenges posed by competitors both new and old, the company has developed a strong-hold in the sector and grown to become the largest in the country. FFE talks to Meutia Kumala, Managing Director of the firm and chief architect of the furniture retail empire.


Meutia Kumala,
Managing Director of PT Home Center Indonesia (Informa)
Mass market retailer Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, may have dominated the business in a great majority of the markets where they have presence, but in Indonesia, it is PT Home Center Indonesia that reigns supreme. The branding of this mid to mid-high market retailer is so strong in the country of an estimated 260 million people that if you ask any local on the street to list furniture retailers they know, INFORMA, the brand that PT Home Center Indonesia operates as would most likely be amongst the first that comes to mind, nine out of ten.

Informa, currently Indonesia’s largest furnishing retail brand, was first established in 2004. According to Meutia Kumala, Managing Director of the company, the business first came about because during the early 2000s, the Indonesian furniture retail market were at two extremes: at one end was very high end brands (and very expensive) and at the other was low end players with very limited variety. It was hard then for any middle-class person to furnish his/her home. Thus, PT Home Center Indonesia was started as a solution to the problem. It was a mid-tier furniture supermarket offering quality and variety at fixed prices that are affordable to the general population.





GROW AND GROW


During the last decade, the Indonesian population grew more affluent. With a larger customer base, Informa’s business grew too, exponentially. With only one store when business started, the company now has a total of 63 stores each averaging 4,700sqm in size. These stores are located in 32 cities across the country. The last three years saw a significant spike in numbers with an addition of 19 new stores.


However, it is not only the number of stores that have increased over the years, but the variety of products as well, a reflection of the company’s positioning as the biggest and the most complete furnishings retailer in Indonesia with one stop shopping for all furnishing needs.

“We offer the widest variety of high quality products supported with excellent service… We have more complete range of furniture products today, such as Living Room, Bedroom, Dining room, Mattress, Junior Series, Storage, Kitchen, Bathroom, Designer Collections, Office and Office Seating, Beauty Commercial, Banquet, Commercial Table and Chair etc… now we also provide Home Accessories like Homeware, Home Decoration, Home Textile and Lighting.” Kumala remarked proudly.

The locations of the Informa stores are planned carefully with each located in a strategic area. In turn the stores are designed to be convenient for customers to shop. Product display is undertaken by visual merchandisers to create an attractive presentation with products easy to find. Each of the products on show would have some details as well as price signages.

All stores follow a simple concept: showcase a wide range of furniture selections, from classic to modern, with tweaks catering to the tastes of the consumers in the particular area/ city. Support that by also providing simple mix and stylish furnishings to complete a stylish home.

BRANDING INFORMA


Kumala supports the stores and the Informa branding with advertising in various media. The objectives of the various campaigns are laser-sharp: to create greater awareness of the store locations, its Informa brand and/or promote current thematic campaigns. In addition to print publicity, there are programs for billboard advertising, digital marketing, EDM, membership and so on. All of these are planned specifically to reach their target customer demographics.

Although eCommerce is still very much in its infancy stage in Indonesia, the company is not letting down its guard. In addition to its corporate website that carries the latest information on the business, news and products etc, it is embarking on eCommerce through a platform www.RupaRupa.com, which is developed by a sister company.

PARTNERSHIP SOURCING


Informa sources its furniture and furnishing products from China, Europe and the Americas. Its selection criteria of products and designs are based on current trends in the market, the needs of the Indonesia market and more specifically the company’s target market.

Quality is often a concern for large retailers because of the volume involved. However, on this subject as well as customer service, unlike some other retailers, Informa does not just pay lip service. Their products are backed by strong quality and price guarantee with even a 100% satisfaction guarantee as two examples. The Informa price guarantee promises a return of any price difference in the unlikely event should customers find other retailers offering lower prices for the same products. The 100% satisfaction guarantee offers exchange or a full refund within 14 days from the date of transaction.

As an importer who have little control over the production process, how is Informa so confident about its quality and prices? This is explained by the company’s attitude towards suppliers who are treated as business partners as well as its strong internal sourcing department comprising a few dozen specialists each focusing on a specific category. The sourcing team is managed by managers and senior managers who in turn report to the Managing Director who is “Merchandiser-inchief”. Our magazine was a little overwhelming meeting more than 20 from the team at a single trade fair in China not long ago. “Our sourcing strategy is simple. We need good suppliers and we work with them as partners. We tell them what we need and they have to do their best to fulfill that while still making profit. It has to be a win-win solution… in essence, it is Good factory, Good Management and Good Communication.” Kumala emphasized.

Top view of inside of Informa’s Alam Sutera three storey store

NO SLOWING DOWN


In order to dominate in a vast country such as Indonesia and with some many outlets and products, a strong network of logistics and customer support is critical. Informa’s 63 stores and their nationwide customers are served by huge warehouses in nine locations scattering in Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi islands. It is a lot of investments but which the company finds worthwhile as it contributes to an enhanced customer experience.

Always seeking to better itself in every possible way, Informa is not contended with how well it is faring nor its current coverage of its market. When questioned about the company’s plans for the future, Kumala responded, “We want to make sure we cover the whole of Indonesia and always give good products at affordable prices to our customers…our mission statement since day one has been to provide a wide range of quality furnishings for all purposes with affordable and competitive prices, excellent value services, sustainable improvement, and comfortable shopping environment with professional staffs.” In the next 5- 10 years we should cover every cities in Indonesia and double our sales volume. The biggest challenge is to find good people to work in our team. However, we have good HR policies as well as a strong HR and training team. We will continue to improve, which is a must.” Kumala stressed.

Obviously there is simply no slowing down of the company nor the lady in the driver’s seat.

ON WOMEN IN THE FURNITURE BUSINESS
As one of few female entrepreneur in the furniture business, we had to ask the below:

Question: What do you think are the strengths of a female entrepreneur?
Kumala: As a female we work with both logic and emotions, and some decisions need both in equal amounts. It is common knowledge women have plenty of both. So I think that is one of many strengths of a female entrepreneur.

Question: Your sourcing team is also made up of predominantly female. Why is this so? Are there any advantages?
Kumala: The decision of what to buy for the home are more often than not made by females (well…at least for our customer base!) and having almost all female buyers and them being home owners make it easier for them to understand customers’ needs as well as keep up with the trend.