Putting the style in lifestyle

Almost as exciting as buying a home can be furnishing that home. Furniture takes a house and makes in into something distinctly yours, comfortable, reflective of your style, and welcoming.

Then why can actually buying furniture seem like such a task sometimes? Typical big-box stores are 90 per cent warehouse, nine per cent showroom, one per cent salesmen on megaphones. Alternatively, boutique stores’ merchandise is at the whim of the purchaser’s tastes, with price tags venturing into the outer stratosphere.

This is why Mobilia is such a treat to shop in. Mobilia furniture has identified and served, loyally, that mid- to high-end customer since its humble beginnings in Montreal, 1962, when founded Hans Kau would import stylish European design furniture at his friends’ pleas. Today, Mobilia has grown to Canada’s leader in contemporary home furnishing, with 10 locations (and counting) in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, the largest and widest selection of contemporary furnishing and accessories for the home.

The stores are sectioned off into mini living rooms, each staged from the carpet to the top of the bookshelves, which the customer is welcome to sit in and experience. From couches, to loveseats, chairs, tables, lights and décor, a Mobilia store is like walking into a magazine.

With stores in both city centres and suburbia, Mobilia attracts both the homeowner and condo dweller. Collections come in regularly, with a major push in the spring and fall, and accessories are coming into the stores weekly.

Mobilia is a fashion leader. And from Italian leather to innovative products (like microfiber), Mobilia is on the forefront of design and style.

Mobilia is still a family-run organization, and still offers the best in sleek, contemporary European styled furniture, sourced from all over the world. Johannes Kau is the buying and marketing manager for Mobilia, and says that the company puts a lot of resources into making the Mobilia shopping experience easy and enjoyable.

“We invest a great deal of time and energy to see what the very high end trends are and how those will translate for our customers, bringing our customers excellent quality but also at a reasonable price,” says Kau. “We occupy the middle bracket for mid to high-end very well. It’s very important to us the furniture we bring is of a good value.”

“It’s a good reaction for a customer to have, to love something you are not going to find elsewhere, so we spend a lot of energy to make sure it is a unique product,” Kau continues.

“Our goal is to have something unique and different and excellent value in terms of the store experience. Buying furniture is a major purchase, so it should be exciting, so we are really trying hard to put a lot of training into our sales people and get them to a level where they break down what can be a difficult thing, and make it easy and fun for the customer.”

The Mobilia difference

Mobilia is able to offer high-quality products at moderate prices in part due to what is known in the industry as “just in time” inventory, whereby customers’ orders can be ordered when the customer wants it, resulting in an unparalleled quality-price ration. Using purchasing and logistics expertise, Mobilia is not paying for the storage of thousands of pieces of stock, and can guarantee the customer will get the product he or she wants, in whatever size, fabric, colour and grade they decide upon.

“This approach to manufacturing is one of the ways that we can offer such a good value to the customer,” says Kau. “We forgo a huge warehouse stocking 90 to 95 per cent of our products, and do a great deal of custom orders.”

This process allows for unmatched flexibility for the customer, who can tailor the product to meet their style requirements.

“From the statistics we have seen we are certainly way above the average for special orders amongst furniture store, at approximately 35 per cent of our products being special order. We have increased the amount of collections we have on the floor where we have different options in size, colour, material, etc.

“To help customers envision how a product will look in their space from a size and colour perspective, our sales team now employ tear sheets where on one page we show you some examples of how a sectional can be made up, and on the back we list all the different items that are available if you want to order them as well as sku and sales numbers, so I can easily look at the front page and see if it is good, then the sales person can select that item. This simplifies the order tremendously.”

Sales teams are also encouraged to sketch out a potential purchase onto a sample floor plan, allowing the customer to better visualise their space. “We are establishing that relationship with the customer in hopes they will come back to us. Certainly they are going to shop around, everybody does. But it is our goal to educate and help the customer.”

More Mobilia

“There is a huge potential for growth,” says Kau, of the organization’s furniture landscape takeover.

Kau says Mobilia is “aggressively looking” at ways to grow that market, especially in the downtown Toronto area. “It’s just exploding over there, and there are opportunities for us to go there to help that customer base.”

Mobilia is looking to double the number of stores in Ontario, after a break in expansion for during the economic slowdown.

“We want to make furniture buying enjoyable, and the feedback we are getting from customers is they appreciate our refreshing approach.”