Livspace Founder Ramakant Sharma on why automation is key to offering consumer experiences
Home decor startuphad an interesting trajectory during the pandemic. It recently announced that it would be opening over 150 experience stores over the next 18 months. Additionally, it would be investing $50 million across 80 markets – with 60 new market entries across India, and 20 in Asia-Pacific cities.
YourStory caught up with Founder Ramakant Sharma during the 12th edition of TechSparks, Asia’s largest and most influential startup-tech summit, to discuss the startup’s growth during the pandemic and how leveraging tech has played to its advantage.
Impact of COVID-19
According to Ramakant, retail shopping experiences and interactions have become more virtual and contactless during the pandemic. “Digitisation of businesses has gone up manyfold. There is now less innovation on the technology side and more innovation on the adoption of technology,” he said.
Ramakant Sharma during TechSparks 2021
He further listed three aspects of communication on purchasing furniture – the first being all the information about the product the customers and stakeholders want to know. Secondly, visualisation about how the product looks to confirm consumer expectations – which is solved with the help of cameras. Finally, trust determines whether the customers will do high-value transactions without meeting people.
“Pandemic has accelerated communication in all three dimensions. Designers and consumers never meet physically but they are able to adopt tech. The use of tech has been reinstated,” Ramakant asserted.
Talking about the supply side, Ramakant believes there was more disruption there than in demand as consumer demand remained relatively the same. However, the unorganised sector went through a massive change, especially when it came to procuring raw materials and labour.
He said that it will take a long time, at least a year, to settle the supply side disruption as the prices of raw materials have also shot up.
Secondly, the demand and trust in the internet will continue to grow due to smartphones, internet adoption and the prevalence of opportunities.
“Consumer choices are much stronger. Consumer visualisation is much better in 3D format. Video is the second big thing in evolution. A major shift will happen in market share in the next 200 cities,” Ramakant observed.
Ramakant said that Livspace was started with an aim to be a digital company. However, everything got accelerated during the pandemic. “These technologies were not new and has been already existing. The usage increased further,” he said, adding, “Today, 80 percent of the designs are automated. The next big thing in AI/ML is the personalisation which is seeing the highest degree of growth.”
The cost of going wrong is much more if done personally. Ramakant advised people to use an expert along with the ML data.
Conquering global market
He believes there are two strategies to build a startup in India. The first is to replicate the model existing somewhere else. In that case, it will be geographical implantation and not innovation. In that case, India needs to have the maximum market share.
The other strategy is where one solves the real problem which is where Livspace is. “India is a complex country. Our homes are not uniform - with new homes along with the old. The walls are not rectangular or even. The solution in the context of India should be replicable in any country in the world. From that learning, we want to not let go of the opportunity,” he explained.
For a line-up of all the action-packed sessions at YourStory's flagship startup-tech conference, check out the TechSparks 2021 website.