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Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail

It is not exactly a small time aspiration to become a pan-European rival to global behemoth IKEA but this is the aim of Made.com as it says it is targeting former customers of the flat-pack and meatball specialist.

The raising of £38 million last week will have done its cause no harm at all as it looks to both expand into various other European cities and add small showroom-style outlets to complement its online operations.

Its big aims may well reflect a coming of age because there is no doubt that Made.com has found the designer furniture market a tough nut to crack with its innovative model of sourcing direct from manufacturers in China who produce its uniquely designed products.

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Since setting up shop five years ago it has plugged away and there have been rumoured flotations along the way that have failed to materialise but the recent fundraising at a modest (rather than the de rigueur stratospheric levels as seen in Silicon Valley) gives a boost to confidence in its model.

Certainly as consumers become more accustomed to new digitally-driven models and the number of “IKEA graduates” as Ning Li, co-founder of Made.com, calls the former customers of the retail giant who now want a more unique product the opportunity for the business has undoubtedly grown.

This is European growth because at present the company operates in France, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany where a healthy 30% of its revenues are now derived. More countries are planned and the small showrooms that the company is setting up – that use technology to provide further information on products and give endless-aisle capability – show how the multi-channel model is being successfully embraced by this once online-only player.

It once again highlights how there is a convergence of digital and physical taking place in retail. While Made.com increasingly looks at leveraging physical space to help its digital core its enormous rival IKEA is looking at complementing its physical footprint with greater digital capabilities.

They might be at opposite ends of the volume spectrum but they clearly share some of the same strategic objectives.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider

K3 Retail deliver multi-channel solutions that enable retailers to create joined up shopping experiences for their customers whether they choose to buy on-line, direct, in-store or via mobile. It has over 20 years’ experience delivering award winning solutions, to more than 175 internationally recognised retail brands.