Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Rob Bridgman, CEO of Snug on fixing the furniture industry and the bright future of DTC

Can you tell us about Snug and why you decided on an ecommerce furniture solution?

Spending weekend after weekend traipsing around furniture showrooms didn’t appeal to me, when I was looking for a sofa. I wanted a convenient solution that I could trust. I was surprised to see that no one did it well, so we decided to do it ourselves. You can buy a sofa on the website at the tap of your phone screen and have it delivered in days.

What are you doing differently?

Snug is the original sofa-in-a-box company. Prior to launching the company it wasn’t possible to buy a stylish and comfortable sofa conveniently. The industry average for delivering sofas was nine weeks and many retailers didn’t accept returns. We wanted to change all of that and give customers more flexibility and convenience.

Why did you employ a Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) strategy?

I’d seen how the new DTC players had been coming into the furniture market and creating similar looks to the established furniture firms and then selling them direct to shoppers online. This put pressure on the margins and growth of the established furniture companies selling to third-party retailers. DTC works for so many different reasons, not least because it cuts out the middleman and allows us to pass these cost savings on to our customers. We also get first-hand insights on what the market wants and use this to create unique and appealing products.

I’ve been in the furniture industry since 2010 [working within the family business, Bridgman, so Snug was solving a personal and professional frustration of mine, I feel as though the industry has been too slow to listen to customers and adopt technology. In all honesty I was designing a sofa to suit my needs.

Did you face any problems when setting up Snug on similar lines?

Of course… one example would be when 12 UK manufacturers refused to quote us for making our product, it was pure coincidence that we found the manufacturer we did when we were at a trade show in Germany.

Can you tell us about the product?

As the UK’s first sofa-in-a-box company, Snug is proud to have created something of a sofa revolution. Within just one year, the sofa-in-a-box concept became an official furniture industry category, after competitors also entered the market in 2020, at which point Snug had already grown a community of thousands of customers.

We’re set to fix the furniture industry and to reinvent the future of living spaces by offering the UK’s fastest and most convenient sofa delivery, without relinquishing style, quality, or comfort. Our sofas are delivered in days and assembled in minutes, no tools required. Our sofas arrive in boxes, are delivered in days and assembled in minutes, no tools required. Snug alleviates all the stress of sofa buying.

How has it gone since launch?

It hasn’t been without its growing pains but it has been a lot of fun forging the path in this new category. There were some early challenges with designing the sofa to deliver quickly without sacrificing any of the quality. Luckily we managed to make use of new form factors to create a product that can be assembled easily, and disassembled later on when adding new extensions. I’m happy to say that since then we’ve enjoyed huge popularity and are currently leading the self-assembly sofa space.

We’re not resting on our laurels though, and are looking at exciting partnerships and marketing opportunities in the coming months to really push the boundaries. 

What about physical stores?

We have been able to use part of the Bridgman showrooms in the south east of England. We still see a place for brick-and-mortar stores and we have some exciting announcements coming up in the Spring where we are looking to bring the Snug experience to the high street.

Isn’t selling furniture constricted by infrequent purchasing?

Our sofas are fully modular and customisable. With our ‘Pay as you grow’ model you can modify your sofa to suit your lifestyle. You may start with a two-seater but then as your family grows/lifestyle changes so can your sofa. Our furniture can be built and reconfigured as many times as required.

What about the future?

A lot of the change that has come about in the last year is here to stay, such as the shift to online shopping, and a focus on creating living spaces that suit your lifestyle. I think there will be a renaissance on people socialising and catching up with friends and family [at home] whenever that will be possible.

And the prospects for the DTC model?

Direct to consumer companies understand their customers the best so I see there being a very bright future. Keep in mind that only 10 years ago we started to see brands really embracing DTC as their primary strategy. In that time, one industry after another has been claimed as new ways have been found to ship ordinary and then extraordinary items.

Plants, food, and mattresses were considered outlandish until someone cracked the code. While the pandemic has shifted many more companies towards online-only, we’re living proof that there’s still huge growth opportunity for traditional markets to finally make their mark on the ecommerce world.