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Niche Retail- Analysing the Ipso MoFO

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Marketplacer is proud to be helping retailers around the world get their products and messages to market through online marketplaces such as House of Home, Outdoria, Bike Exchange, TiniTrader, and Tixstar. In the first of our Niche Retail Focus series, we talk to Paul Noe of online homewares and furniture retailer Ipso MoFo about the challenges of going into business and going against the minimalism grain.

When Paul Noe founded his online furniture retail business Ipso MoFo he had no idea that a year later he would be referring to himself as a “self-taught coding geek”.

Getting an e-commerce website up and running was just one of the challenges Noe and his business partner, wife Debs, faced when they decided to “put every penny” into their dream of starting a business. He undertook the task of learning more about the technical aspects of his website out of necessity.

“Head MoFo” Noe was initially happy with the website that had been built for the business by a contractor, but realised he would have to learn a thing or two about coding in order to do ongoing maintenance and tweaks.

“I’ve changed the whole website from day one and I’ve taken those duties and responsibilities on myself,” says Noe, who comes from a marketing background but has worked in all sorts of jobs, including truck driving.

“I couldn’t tell you the difference between WordPress and Magento a year and a half ago when we were building the site. Now I’ve thrown myself in the deep end, and I can do most things on the site, but I’ve got a couple of freelancers I use in India who do some of the heavy lifting,” he says.

Why Ipso MoFo joined a marketplace

Noe’s experience is not unusual for small business owners, especially for those in industries who realise that without an online presence they are doomed to failure.

Noe realised that a standalone e-commerce website would not be enough for his niche furniture business, which sources most of its pieces from a hand-picked and very hip collection of small European designers.

Along with establishing his website and marketing efforts through social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, Noe saw the merits of becoming a vendor on online furniture, bedding, renovation and homewares marketplace House of Home, which is powered by Marketplacer’s world-leading online marketplace platform.

“Working with HoH has been fantastic for our exposure and has definitely been beneficial,” Noe says. “It’s putting our brand name in front of more and more eyes.”

Noe says he’s received great support from House of Home and it’s been an easy and effective way to generate sales leads for the retailer.

Like many other retailers, Ipso MoFo turned to the marketplace option as part of a multi-channel retail solution.

Online marketplaces can provide their vendors with increased exposure to potential customers, better brand recognition, and a qualified source of quality sales leads. In addition, the convenience of setting up on a marketplace means retailers don’t have to necessarily learn all about the back-end of a website in order to run their business efficiently and profitably.

Unique style

Ipso MoFo’s unique take on furniture and homewares goes proudly “against the grain” of current trends in the homewares and furniture industry. Noe says the initial inspiration came from looking for furniture for his own home.

He and wife Debs were less than inspired by the prevailing trend emphasising minimalist designs and started looking around the internet for something different. That search quickly became a light-bulb moment for Noe, who recognised he was probably not the only person out there keen on quirky, original, and well-made furniture.

“We found, from our own exhausting efforts in finding well-made mid-range priced ‘quirky’ furniture/homeware items in Australia for our own home, it was hard to find anything made by small-scale boutique brands that didn’t cost the earth, was not a ‘replica’ item, and was not following the current ‘minimalist’ trend. We like to be a bit different and have really tried to tap into that niche,” he says.

He says the business is still finding its feet and working out who the Ipso MoFo customer might be.

“We thought we had a fair idea of who a typical ‘MoFo’ would be, and have actually been quietly surprised with those who have become our customers,” Noe says.

“As a small business, it’s easy at this stage to maintain some level of personal service with our customers — either through delivering items personally or taking calls — and we’ve found that a surprising number of women in their ‘senior’ years have a thing for quirky, colourful, European furnishings. Which is nice! We wouldn’t have banked on that at the start.”

Noe says the business has seen its shares of ups and downs in its first year of operation, but he’s confident Ipso MoFo’s commitment to give homewares and furniture buyers something a little different will prove successful.


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