Ecommerce Success Stories - Decoralist



May 3rd, 2024

As part of Onport's collaboration with the UK Ecommerce Trade Commission, we chose to highlight some of our UK customers as excellent examples of UK-based companies that have expanded into cross-border ecommerce operations. Decoralist is one such company.

Company Introduction

Decoralist, a UK-based ecommerce brand, was born out of a passion for interior design and a desire to bridge the gap between unique, high-quality furnishings and consumer accessibility.

Representative - Catherine Cornelissen. CEO & Founder.


1 - Can you explain how the concept of the Decoralist came about and the core idea behind the brand?

CC: “As someone who has always loved the interior design world and who ended up working as an interior designer – I struggled to find a platform that offered visually unique furnishings that were well made and priced. In 2016, I launched Decoralist to curate pieces on behalf of consumers since the interior design world didn’t always feel hugely accessible.

Products either needed to be sourced through trade-only customers or were simply too expensive for the average person. I wanted to connect our customers with home furnishings they wouldn't find in your typical high street store, essentially doing the “sourcing” for them!

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2 - What challenges did you encounter when you were starting off as a UK ecommerce company?

CC: “Due to the marketplace nature of the business model, I struggled to keep up with the inventory levels of the brands I was working with. While many products are made to order/printed to order – and therefore, inventory isn’t a factor – we work with numerous brands that offer small batches and limited quantities. As a result, customers would shop on our website thinking a product was in stock when, in fact, it wasn’t.

The same issue applied to our international brands, mainly in the US and Europe, where pricing discrepancies sometimes led us to make a small margin or be at a loss ultimately. This was very difficult to navigate since it’s impossible to update the inventory and retail prices of +5000 SKUs on a daily, let alone weekly basis, nor could we find a solution that solved all these problems until we stumbled across Onport.”

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3 - What do you believe to be the most significant differences between traditional UK brick-and-mortar and ecommerce retail?

CC: “Ecommerce retail is quick and instantaneous, all from the comfort of your home. With the correct product information, shipping & lead times, customer service, and price point, I believe ecommerce exceeds traditional brick-and-mortar significantly. With AI, live chat, and endless logistics options, we can tailor our customers’ needs from the touch of a keyboard, which removes the enormous stress and hassle of shopping for your home.

If you think about how many hours you could spend walking around a physical store, only not actually find what you’re looking for? With ecommerce, you can find what you want within seconds simply by typing in your search terms or asking a customer service representative on a handful of websites.“

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4 - From your experience of operating internationally, what have you learned, and what advice would you give UK companies who want to launch cross-border operations?

CC: “Do your research and manage the customer’s expectations. I think it's essential to make sure you’re not only factoring in your profitability but also clearly indicating your responsibility with international deliveries. Too often, customers are shocked by import duty & taxes, and shipping times… so I think it’s critical to be transparent with your customers online so they know what to expect when shopping with you.“

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5 - What is the role that technology plays in your ecommerce operations?

CC: “Without Onport, we wouldn’t have the platform we have today. Technology, and more specifically, Onport, has made it possible for us to sync catalogs from international brands, selling in different currencies and ensuring that inventory is kept up to date. Due to the ease of onboarding new brands with Onport, we’re able to scale and add new products on a weekly basis in a streamlined and easy manner.

Onport allows us to win and the brands we work with to win because they make the invoicing, shipping, set up, and catalog management processes all so simple.”

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