Wir versuchen, im Geschäft und auch online ein bestimmtes Gefühl zu vermitteln. Wir zeigen, dass wir wissen, welche Story hinter den Produkten steckt.

Geert-Jan Smits founder of Flinders.

Flinders tries to make design accessible to everyone. The company is one of the fastest growing home design shops in the entire home industry. CEO Geert-Jan Smits: “Home design shops are quite traditional, not to say dated. The industry has been based on the same formal principle for years. Right from day one we had a different vision in mind. We are a disruptive company, pursue a multichannel strategy and are exactly where our customers are. That might not sound disruptive, but it is. It's very different than a home decorator who has to hope that customers will come.''

We follow a multichannel strategy and are exactly where our customers are.

Geert-Jan Smits Founder of Flinders
Flinder's shop has nice furniture

“Wir beliefern Sie nicht”

Vor Flinders hatte Geert-Jan eine Internet-Beratungsfirma: Jungle Minds. Nach 10 Jahren Beratungsarbeit war es Zeit für etwas Anderes. „In mir steckt ein Händler, also habe ich ganz rational nach einer Kategorie gesucht, die im Internet noch jungfräulich war.“ Er kam bei Designmöbeln aus. „Man hat mich für verrückt erklärt. Je mehr Leute mich für verrückt erklären, desto mehr Spaß habe ich daran.“ Was nicht gleich heißt, dass alles ein Kinderspiel war. „Um festzulegen, welche Marken wir führten mussten, habe ich erst untersucht, welche Marken oft in den Suchbegriffen vorkamen. Ich kannte diese Marken nicht, also habe ich dort angerufen. Immer wieder stellte man mir dann die Frage: ‚Wieviel Quadratmeter Verkaufsfläche haben Sie? Wo ist Ihr Geschäft? Oh, Sie wollen übers Internet verkaufen? Dann beliefern wir Sie nicht.‘ Notgedrungen haben wir uns eine Gewerbefläche gesucht. Dann haben wir mit den Flinders Cafés angefangen. An stark frequentierten Standorten, wo die Leute gerne für ein Bier oder einen Kaffee vorbeikommen. Und alles, woran und worauf sie sitzen, ist Flinders.“

The business is now a central part of the overall concept. “I’m totally convinced now. You really need a store to bring the products to people. Selling furniture items in such a café is not that easy. And the people behind the bar aren’t necessarily the best interior consultants. We have a fantastic shop in Zaandam that we opened in 2015.” However, Flinders still runs cafés. “Café De Bajes on Rembrandtplein is from us, only nobody knows that everything is Flinders.”

Geert-Jan Smits — Founder at Flinders

“Der durchschnittliche Webshop ist total langweilig”

What Flinders understands very well is that customers don’t find it easy to buy furniture. Geert-Jan: “There are a lot of people around me who say: ‘I would like to buy beautiful design pieces, but I have no idea where. So I’ll just go to IKEA.’ In addition, the average web shop is totally boring: You only see pack shots of the products. It’s difficult to get an overall picture and judge the ambience. That’s why we try to convey a certain feeling both in store and online. We want to demonstrate that we have an idea of the subject and know the stories behind the products. Because we sell items from the premium segment. Such a chair (points to a fiberglass chair from Vitra) is not cheap. That’s what people save for.”

Geert-Jan also refers to his own experiences. “When I started Flinders, I knew nothing about design. I had never heard of the brands and thought everything was ridiculously expensive. But then you go into the factory and hear what’s behind it all. In the case of Fermob garden furniture, for example, one learns that it was designed for the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris. The furniture made of aluminum is light as a feather and remains visually beautiful. That’s how I learned to appreciate the furniture. But I also realize that we serve a niche market and how expensive the things we sell are. So you can read this story on our website, but you must have sat in this chair once.”

The average webshop is totally boring: You only see packshots of the products.

Geert-Jan Smits Founder of Flinders

“Das betrachten wir nicht als Ausgabenposten”

Such insights are important influencing factors for the concept of Flinders. “It sounds terribly simple, such a web shop, but every online order is based on a large number of contact moments with the customer beforehand.” This is one of the reasons why Flinders uses all possible channels. “And by that I really mean all possible channels. We have the web shop ourselves, the cafés, the shop, but we also advise customers on site. Hardly anyone else does that because it costs too much money. We also sell through marketplaces, chat, email and phone. We don’t consider that an expense item as we can see that it clearly benefits the pre-sale. We have a project department for commercial customers and social media also play an important role. We ask customers to present their purchased items under #myflinders. There are over 500 posts on Instagram. There are ingenious things there.”

Flinders Home

“What makes us different and what makes us successful: We actually reach customers through all these channels. An average home decorator should be able to do that first. In addition, we have introduced the inventory model. We’re among the very first in the home industry to make next-day delivery possible. Before, it was normal to wait eight to ten weeks for the furniture ordered. This is no longer up to date. We said from the start: this has to be done differently.”

Schneller und cleverer als die Konkurrenz

Everything revolves around the customer experience, the best possible “customer experience”. This includes payments. “Ultimately, they make up a small but very important part of the customer experience. This not only applies to the customer, but also to me. Such an important service item is like a lifeline. And I don’t trust the first person who comes along.”

„Etwas ganz Besonderes ist, dass euer Unternehmensgründer (Adriaan Mol – Anm. d. Red.) letztes Jahr bei den Loey Awards ausgezeichnet wurde. Ich bin in der Internetwelt zuhause, also ist dies für mich eine Bestätigung. Die Story von Mollie und die Tatsache, dass ihr als echtes Tech-Unternehmen agiert, sorgen dafür, dass ihr viel schneller und cleverer als die Konkurrenz seid. Super finde ich die Möglichkeiten, Dinge selbst anzupassen und das rasante Tempo bei der Umsetzung. Die Kombination aus Technologie und Menschen, die proaktiv mitdenken, zahlt sich aus. Der Kontakt verläuft sehr angenehm, auch das ist ein wichtiger Faktor. Durch das Konzept von Mollie sind wir in der Lage, diese Dienstleistungen auch künftig gut zu erbringen, zum Beispiel mit neuen Ländern und Möglichkeiten.“

It is very special that your company founder was recognized at the Loey Awards.

Geert-Jan Smits Founder of Flinders
Beautifully designed furniture by Flinders

Ein total anderes Unternehmen

Because Geert-Jan keeps busy with the future. “What will my added value look like in five years? You have to keep questioning yourself, otherwise you’ll be overtaken by left and right within a few years. That’ll be quick. Flinders can be a totally different company in five years. That’s exciting.”

“These considerations are among the things that I enjoy the most. And it helps that I’ve gathered a lot of like-minded people around me who want to contribute and are critical. At this year’s Thuiswinkel Awards we were voted the best interior design shop in the Netherlands. We are very proud to have received this award after nine years in the business. It is clear to us that we are no longer a startup company, but I would like to keep the culture that goes with it. Actually, we’ve only just started. We want to conquer the world, that’s how fantastic things happen.”

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