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Power Players: Satya Tiwari

Satya TiwariSatya Tiwari
What has been the biggest surprise for you this year?
“The industry has [adopted] a herd mentality. For example, we launched flatweaves and now everyone is overkilling flatweaves. I think it’s important to look within to find uniqueness and differentiation. The industry does a great job of innovating style and design, but we have to launch what makes sense for each business. No one is really looking at their customer base and deciding what to bring in. Instead, companies look at what everyone else is doing. We all should be saying, ‘What should we bring in that will add value and work with our business model?’ instead of copying everyone else. There’s no newness in the market; we’re creating duplication. This impacts market size and if it continues, vendors will have too much inventory and will start flooding the market with closeouts. Vendors need to find their own signature offerings.”

What is the one thing your industry should be doing more of?
“The industry needs to solve the complete problem rather than part of the problem. The industry brings hundreds of new designs each year, but it’s more than that. Vendors need to bring to market products that they can support with good inventory. How you support your products is really important. And, service starts at market. For retail settings, we need to make sure our products work well in a vignette in a retail store. Support tools such as innovative displays and merchandising solutions are important, as is training people at the store level on how to sell your product. You need to really understand your customers pain points so you can solve their pain points.”

What is the biggest influence affecting your business today?
“Knowing what is being sold in the marketplace is really important to us. We’re all about analytics. We have an in-house analytics team that reviews our customer data and dissects it to find out what people are buying and where. We are spending a lot of time on analytics and data, mining the data. Bringing a new rug to market is easy, but bringing the right new rug that will sell well five years down the road is the tricky part. Our team is able to look at what is selling online by designers and furniture stores, for example, and determine trends. Customers are influencers and we have more tools to mine data than ever before.”

How was business for you for the first half of the year? What’s your prediction for the rest of the year?
“The first half of the year was good and it will continue to be strong. We are very optimistic about the future and believe we will finish with a strong year.”

What is your best-selling item? Why? Is it different online?
“Our best-selling items are mostly our medium-priced handtufted designs. Transitional, value-price-point tufted rugs—especially Caesar—do very well. Our Caesar collection has great style along with lots of designs, a versatile color palette and a very accessible price point. “Our online and retail sales are mirroring each other a lot—it’s harder to sell high-priced items online, but those are niche items anyway. Entry-level machine made rugs are doing very well for us online.”

How has online changed how you look at your business strategically?
“I don’t think it’s changed much, other than we have a much wider distribution when we sell to online [as brick-and-mortar retailers are mostly limited to a physical area]. The online channel gives us access to the entire U.S. population. In our online strategy, we’re taking more risks and experimenting a lot. We try new things and if it works, we tell our brick-and-mortar customers that it’s working and they should try it also.”

How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working?
“Reading HFN.”

What consumer trends are influencing your company?
“We look not only at consumer trends but trends in general. We want to be trend relevant and trend setters. With our designs, it’s about understanding the basics and then putting a new, unique twist on that. We follow retail trends, fashion, designers, etc., to see what’s capturing the attention of consumers. Right now, overscaled floral designs are big as are grays, and texture and sheen. People want a three-dimensional product—a rug is the new couch—an extension of the living room, a place where people spend a lot of time.”

What categories are the strongest for your company?
“It’s hard to say one thing because of the diversity within our line. Twenty percent of our sales are non-rug products and that number is growing every day. All of our categories are growing, but our pillow and lighting categories are doing very well. Our entry-level products are doing well at furniture stores and in e-commerce. Furniture stores want value and products that will work within their vignettes. And consumers shopping online are also looking for value.”