More-Than- Just-A- Sofa
Address: 10 Ubi Cresent
#01-21, Ubi Techpark (Lobby B)
Contact: +65 6742 0102
Address: 200 Turf Club Road
#01-18 The Grandstand
Contact: +65 6763 1886
Always quality over quantity
When talking about furniture, IKEA is always the first name that comes to mind, which goes to show how competitive this particular industry is. As such, it is pretty impressive that Mr B.K. Tan was able to carve out a niche for himself with More-Than- Just-A- Sofa close to 10 years ago. Starting out with outdoor furniture under another brand, he started bringing in indoor furniture as well not long after, focusing on functional sofas, which inspired thecurrent brand name.
“As living spaces get smaller, we thought people would need more space-saving solutions, which is why our furniture are more functional in nature which can double up usage, “ he explains. These pieces tend to be useful for places like studio apartments, Mr B.K. Tan adds, using an example to illustrate this: “When you have guests coming over, rather than keeping a room specially for them and not using it 80% of the time, you can get a sofa bed instead, and use it as a study room and home office if there are no guests and convert it when people come over.”
In fact, it is this strong focus on a niche area that Mr B.K. Tan thinks helps them to compete against brands like IKEA. “IKEA sells everything, right down to accessories, and if you ask for sofa beds they only have limited design and comfort,” he says. “Nowadays, Singaporeans are more discerning, they would like to find the best in each category instead. And that’s how we can stay afloat in this bad economy.”
Today, More-Than- Just-A- Sofa has the largest sofa bed showroom in Singapore according to Mr B.K. Tan, with more than 50 to 60 models on display at anytime – customers are spoilt for choice. “We also make sure to bring in designer pieces crafted by European designers, but not sold at European prices because we want to cater to the local budget and taste,” he explains.
Showing customers that his pieces are the most value-for- money option is a critical challenge. To Mr B.K. Tan, it means changing people’s mindsets. “When they hear the word ‘sofa beds,’ a lot of consumers think that they are cheap furniture that are boring and uncomfortable. So we have to educate them – when they actually come and see the pieces, they are shocked by how good they actually are,” he says.
Also, many customers tend to believe also that sofa beds are something they won’t use very often, so they’d prefer to just save money and get a normal sofa. “But if they check the market, they would realize that quality sofas aren’t actually a lot cheaper than our sofa beds,” he says. At the end of the day, he is able to keep costs low because he “works very closely with factories, securing larger volumes” so that he can ultimately pass the savings back to the customer.
Because More-Than- Just-A- Sofa is open 7 days a week, Mr B.K. Tan spends almost everyday in the showroom – even weekends and public holidays, which are normally peak hours for them. This means he has to sacrifice a lot of family time. However, he thinks it is worth it to do something that is fun and challenging to him. “To me, success lies in being able to keep the company going year after year, keeping service standards high, maintaining quality of products,” Mr B.K. Tan explains. Because of this, he doesn’t think that he is very successful yet, but the challenge makes it worth pushing on.
In the same way, he advises entrepreneurs-to- be to “be hands-on” as far as possible. “Most people think they can just open a shop and hire some people and the money will come in. But there are a lot of operational issues that you need to take care of, you need to be Mr. Know-All, everyone will be looking at you,” he explains. “So you need to be hands-on to learn everything, have the knowledge on everything.”