News: online homeware retailer Made.com has opened a physical showroom on the ninth floor of a west London office tower, featuring QR codes and miniature 3D-printed models of furniture.
The 400 square metre Ninth Floor Showroom, located next to the company's offices in Notting Hill, presents a changing selection of the site's most popular furniture and lighting products arranged "like a studio shoot".
Visitors can scan QR codes to find out more about products, play with miniature furniture models and take home postcards and fabric samples.
"Furniture and design is a special category in the sense that the products take up a lot of space," said Made.com CEO and founder Ning Li. "Our business model tries to eliminate every unnecessary cost, like agents, importers, brands and warehousing, including the physical stores. Whenever you have a lot of costs, you can’t pass on the savings."
Li says the future for Made.com is a "convergence of online and offline", using the showroom to improve the online retail experience. "It’s very experimental. It’s not something that can replace physical retail, but it’s a good step to bridge the gap," he said.
Made.com isn't the only company to attempt to move from online into offline retail recently. "We've seen over the last year, especially at Christmas, companies like eBay doing pop-up stores or experiential stores in a physical space," Li said. "We hope to see more [companies] doing similar things, because it makes a lot of sense for consumers."
Former investment banker Li launched Made.com in 2010 with backing from Brent Hoberman, founder of furniture and homeware website MyDeco and holiday shop Lastminute.com. Made.com now employs 70 people and ships several containers of goods to UK customers every day.
The showroom opened last week during the London Design Festival and is open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday at Newcombe House, 45 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3LQ.
Earlier today we reported that online design retailer Fab.com is to merge its UK and German sites into a single European store.