In the words of Coco Chanel; “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury”. It is upon this premise, in my opinion that E’Sorae Luxury defines itself. They do not just create aesthetically appealing home essential commodities, they ensure it is comfortably pocket friendly too. The company E’Sorae Luxury has effectively revolutionized the home essentials market as we see it. Before this brand established its formidable presence in the business, when we think home essentials, we think; low quality for cheap and high quality as unaffordable. However our thinking is to change as we are able to buy home supplies and accessories of impeccable quality, reasonably priced.
This transformation in our approach to home essentials is all the more apparent in our purchase of quality beddings and towels from E’Sorae Luxury, so much so that the company changes its name to Bedsheets Express by E’Sorae Luxury.
We meet the affable, engaging and goal oriented CEO of E’Sorae Luxury, Mr Ewaen Sorae. We are curious to understand how this ambitiously enthusiastic entrepreneur has created this successful organization, in this interview by Happenings Media, in anticipation of our SME Anatomy coming up in August.
May we be acquainted?
I am Ewaen Sorae, CEO & founder of Bedsheets Express, an online/offline beddings company that has been in existence for 7 years. Just recently we rebranded from E’Sorae Luxury to Bedsheets Express by E’Sorae Luxury.
Any reason behind the change of name?
It is a strategic decision, E’Sorae Luxury used to be in the home essentials market in its entirety, for example; kitchen, bathroom, sitting rooms, dining sets, however we decided to go into just beddings because 80 – 90% of our revenue comes from the bedroom home essentials unit, so it seemed right we made it our core department.
How have you been able to carve a niche for your brand, considering how saturated the home essentials market is?
Basically that is the main reason we had to re strategize. The home essentials industry is a broad market with over 2000 products in various categories. It isn’t something that every small and medium enterprise would have the resources to push. So we would rather be known for a particular segment in the industry which is beddings. The beddings industry is large as there are about 28,000 hotels in Nigeria. Therefore as a home essentials commodity, beddings and towels is an obligatory necessity. The industry is not what you can quantify in monetary terms as it is an untapped industry, in my opinion. It is my belief that by delving into the beddings market, we have been able create an awareness of its potentials.
And I must confess we have experienced growth, when we started in 2010, it was just me, now 7 years later we have 37 staff members, more outlets and a larger clientele base.
In the beddings industry, isn’t there competition?
I won’t say there isn’t competition, in this industry, actually there is but what works to our advantage is the fact the competition has no clue the extent of this market and its vast potentials. They are satisfied with selling just 20 bedsheets to end users. While talking to some investors about investing in the beddings industry, they were skeptical until I showed them in black white the possibilities embedded in this market. They were blown away while looking at our company’s financials. At the end of the day, it is indeed an untapped industry, there is an organic market and you are not saddled with the responsibility of doing too much with regards campaign, as the market is there waiting to be tapped into. No matter how bad Nigeria may be in recession, hotels will always buy beddings. a case in point is Eko Hotel, which has about 900 rooms and each room must have towels and bedsheets, thus there is repeated sales due to the life span of these materials used in creating beddings, for example cotton has its lifespan and that’s how our market keeps growing.
How do you ensure customer loyalty amongst your clientele?
To ensure customer’s loyalty, we have incentives we create, for example we run a retailer’s plan. This creates an advantage for people who would like to resell our products but have limited startup capital. We give them an opportunity to buy and pay as they resell, more like a sales and return –SAR- scheme. To put it in simple monetary terms, we may give a reseller products worth 500 thousand Naira and collect an initial deposit of just 200 thousand Naira to pay the rest of the money after sales of products. In that regard, it is our responsibility to carry out our due diligence and ensure these customer retailers qualify for the SAR scheme, by verifying their addresses and guarantors.
Our end users are not excluded from benefitting, we have what we call happy hour, where regular customers get a 50% discount for walk-in-store purchases. We also organize an activity called open day where discounted products go as low as 2000 Naira. We ensure regular emails are sent to customers on our data base, to appraise them of these incentives.
Who are your primary target market and what steps have you taken to reach them?
The home essentials market is so broad, therefore it’s not easily quantified in a fixed category, it is fluid. Bearing this in mind, we have our business tailored to fit 3 major clientele base: the hospitality industry, which comprises of hotels, that is the bulk of our revenue; the everyday working customer, they are an important part of our market because they ensure growth by providing us referrals via word of mouth; the third segment of our clientele, are large super markets and department stores who would like to sell our products, albeit rebranded in their own name.
It is our aim to ensure that these parts that make up the business machinery of E’Sorae are properly oiled. Customer satisfaction is our aim.
How do you think evolving technology will affect your business?
The effect of technology on our brand cannot be underestimated, thanks to digital marketing, our revenue has quadrupled. A feature was done of our business in a magazine, it talked about how effectively E’Sorae has utilized social media tools in driving its business and increasing revenue.
I must confess that between 2010 to date, while we were relatively known because we had walk-in- stores and physical locations in establishments like Silverbird galleria, our brand visibility has increased since we started aggressively using our e-commerce space. Our in-house digital marketing team controls our Facebook page and we get as much as one million or more hits on our Facebook. Social Media ensures awareness and interactions with our customers or potential customers. It is indeed the cheapest way small and medium business enterprises fosters its growth.
Imagine the conventional marketing where a billboard would cost about 15million Naira a year but for social media marketing, 3-4 million Naira in a year will ensure effective marketing of our products.
You run a blog alongside your business, what effect has it had on a just emerging market in quality home essentials?
Blogging is a time consuming past time but can be effective if properly utilized, I am afraid we do not properly maximize the potentials of blogging. It is an oversight my team and I, will be correcting in the near future.
How have you been able to reconcile the E’Sorae Luxury brand and the E’Sorae mini?
Yes I must admit that E’Sorae Luxury and E’Sorae mini are two vastly different arms of our company, however it is founded on the ability to listen to our customer’s needs. Overtime customers have made requests for home essentials commodities suited for the young, like baby/ toddlers bathrobes, towels and beddings.
It has come to our realization that while customers may not be loyal to our brand in itself, they are loyal to the impeccable product quality our brand creates. Thus we are uncompromising with our quality and we pay attention to our customer’s needs. This ensures continuity and durable clientele patronage. So far E’Sorae mini is doing quite well.
What long term goals do you have for your brand considering the fickleness of market trends?
To ensure our brand longevity, we intend to be innovative. A company that fails to be innovative in relation to fickle market trends gets left behind. Unavoidably things change and we must change with it. Furthermore we must never stop listening to customers. A case in study is the phone company Nokia who had majority of the telecommunications market back in the day, but today with fickle market trends and strong competition, they have been left behind and do not dominate even a small percentage of the telecommunications market right now.
In my opinion, three things drive retail, these are; product quality, affordability and accessibility. So far we have product quality and affordability clinched. However we are working on making our products accessible, because we have customers all the way in northern states like Kano and Maiduguri who may have to wait 3-5 days before they get their purchases delivered to them. It is our aim to have walk-in stores in these distant places. To aid in the challenge of accessibility, we are deliberating an introduction of a franchise model.
What steps have you taken in combating impostor companies with substandard goods who may attempt to use your brand name to effect sales?
This is a prevalent problem, especially in a country like ours where intellectual property right is not acknowledged . However to combat this problem, we put in a lot of effort into our product packaging, so it is not easily duplicated. Our team unveiled the brand’s signature on the 1st of June. This signature will be put on all of our products, this helps our customers identify our products and reject imposter companies posing as us. Indeed product differentiation is a concept we are deeply invested in as it ensures an authenticity check of our goods.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs who are interested in going into the beddings and home essentials market?
Never relent on quality, consistency is key to growth and don’t limit the scope of the vision you have for your brand. When i first started, many doubted the success of a beddings and home essentials business, I went into it head on, not discouraged. today I am thankful for how far my brand has come.
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