SMART BUSINESS LESSONS FROM AMARA

Ready for a lesson in smart business tactics? Amara have long time been purveyors of luxury homewares and furniture, retailing brands such as Fornasetti, Ralph Lauren and Missoni home (as well as many more). For several years that has been their focus - until now, as Amara have finally launched their own label collection. 

What intrigued me most was how the company went about creating a line to fill the exact needs of their audience. Cleverly, they've watched as the third party brands on their site sold (or as I assume in some cases like any retailer, didn't sell), taking notes along the way, and then BOOM!

They laid the smackdown with a collection of goods perfectly crafted to fill the gaps and trends they had identified with their customer knowledge. 

Amara could have launched with their own label right at the beginning. Instead it seems they chose to bide their time carefully, waiting for the perfect moment of learned customer knowledge and data from years of sales. They essentially let the brands they retail open the door and teach them everything they needed to know before launching their own line. 

I mean, it kind of makes you wonder if they had it planned all along doesn't it?! 

At the launch of Amara's own label at The Rosewood Hotel, I sat down with Amara's CEO Sam Hood to try and do some investigating. 

Why was the collection started? Was it a yearning of yours to have your own brand label as a company, or could you see the other brands delivering products that you knew you could compete on? 

We’ve wanted to create an own brand collection for some time however we were conscious not to rush the process and launch when the time was right. My team and I designed and sourced each piece from the collection which has been a great experience.  By working with some of the industries finest we’ve been able to tailor and co-design pieces we know embrace all that Amara customers associate with us: quality products, timeless design and attention.

What came first, ideas for the styles of the collections or customer analysis of what you think they would like?

We’re so lucky to be able to get instant feedback and reaction from our customers and their buying habits, such as their likes and dislikes and preferences on colour, prints etc.  The information helped us hugely when designing and deciding on each piece within the collection. However we’ve also taken note of trends coming off the catwalk and interior looks we feel strongly for.  I’ve wanted to launch our own collection ever since we launched Amara 11 years ago but felt that we really needed to understand our customers better and now we feel ready to take on such an exciting project! 

You talk about how you really understand your customer and the styles they were into, so how much of that did it inform the collections?

We looked at the information from our current customers and merged it with our design ideas so that the two inspiration sources complimented each other.  It was key that our current customers would love pieces from the collection but it was just as key to attract new customers to Amara by creating a collection accessible to all. 

What kind of metrics / analytics / data points did you look at to understand your customer’s habits?

Being an online retailer allows us to have access to various ‘real time’ analytical data which is great.  We use this data to check buying habits, however it’s key that we look into various trends and design options allowing us to ‘marry’ the two to create a collection which will appeal to our existing and new customers.

With any new collection it must be tough to work out where you want to price it - how did you decide on price points? 

Our price points are very broad allowing all our customers to purchase a piece to suit their taste and spending preference. Our customers vary widely so it was important to us that the Amara Collection was accessible to all.

Do you have the traditional customer avatar type things? If so, would you be up for sharing a bit about who they are? 

We don’t have a typical customer.  With the breadth of brands we offer we appeal to a wide range of customers all with varying spending habits, likes and dislikes etc.  We also now have a large international customer base which allows us to appeal to a new customer base in various countries.

Are you trying to appeal to different types of Amara customer with the collections? 

The Collection is for all our customers however we’ve designed the collection into four different styles to appeal to those who have a preference on a certain look such as Heritage or Graphic.  The beauty of isolating each look is that it allows a customer to ‘try’ a certain look in their home and with our help we can point them in the right direction! 

What's involved in creating your own label and products - is it as easy as people like to think?

It’s taken us nearly two years from giving the project the green light to launching our first collection-it’s been hard work but also rewarding to look back at.  The most important part of the process is to select the very best suppliers to work with.  We’ve chosen to work with some of the best and this has allowed us to offer something extra special to our customers.  

Did I get the secret ingredient out of Sam? No, not really. Ha! But what I do know is that this lady is a lot more savvy than she lets on! Sam is a massive inspiration to any up and coming business owners and in my opinion she's likely to hit the mainstream for her entrepreneurial nous very soon. 

I for one am really interested to see how Amara's own label collection progresses and the brand develops. The team over there have constantly been championing interiors bloggers, stylists and designers (again, smart move by creating the likes of the Amara Interior Blogging Awards) so no doubt they will have the support of the whole industry behind them. Not only are they giving us great products for our homes but also a little bit of business learning too. 

Shop the brand new Amara Own Label collection here. 

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