DIY-renovators heading online to snap up home improvement products

DIY-renovators heading online to snap up home improvement products
DIY-renovators heading online to snap up home improvement products

Consumers are increasingly looking online for bathroom products for renovations, but little is available that offers high quality at a low price, according to a supplier that hopes to fill the gap in the market.

The sanitary wear and bathroom fixtures market in Australia is worth about $1.4 billion a year but major competitors in the sector do not have a significant online presence, said Calvin Ng, director of Disruptive Investments Group which recently bought a 50% stake in Allure Bathrooms.

“The internet has become where consumers are starting their researching journey particularly in the home renovation market,” Ng said.

Studies show that 51% of consumers research prospective purchases online before visiting a store to buy; 44% research and buy online; 32% research online, visit a store to view the product and then return online to buy; and 17% visit a store first before buying online.

“The line between physical and online is blurring and that’s one of our big strategies,” Ng said. “We intend to have showrooms and distribution centres in every state but we think the bulk of [customers’] research will start on the internet.”

Television programs like The Block and House Rules were helping to fuel a mini boom in the renovation market, while declining housing affordability was encouraging people to renovate rather than buying new homes, Ng said.

Allure Bathrooms started in 2010 designing and selling high-end bathroom fittings, vanities and accessories via eBay, and subsequently through a dedicated online store.

The first physical store opened about 12 months ago in Collingwood, Victoria. Although the supplier has only one store, Ng said it was already receiving orders from all over the country from both wholesale and retail customers.

“There isn’t too much in this space that is well-priced and high quality and that’s a huge gap in Australia,” Ng said.

He added that some of Allure’s products cost half to a third of comparable products from larger suppliers such as Harvey Norman and Reece.

“That’s typical of a market that is ripe for disruption,” Ng said.

Similar trends had already occurred in the markets for home electronics and white goods, with businesses such as electronics supplier Kogan, furniture retailer Milan Direct and white goods retailer Appliances Online, taking market share.

Allure plans to open more stores and franchise the business to develop a wider reach across Australia.

The business is already cash-flow positive and profitable. Disruptive Investments Group reported Allure’s revenue in the six months to January 2014 grew by about 65% compared with the previous six months. 

Zoe Fielding

Zoe Fielding

I am a freelance journalist and editor with more than 15 years experience specialising in personal finance, property, financial services and financial technology. A skilled writer and researcher, I have extensive experience producing high quality content for corporate and media clients. I am used to working to tight deadlines and tailoring the pieces I produce to suit a variety of audiences and formats.

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