You can teach an old dog new tricks

Furniture stores Photo: Tamar Matsafi

At 72, while all her friends have long retired, Yehudit Bar runs an online furniture store, after closing all her chain's physical stores.

Yehudit Bar works around the clock. She decided to give up on coffee with friends, on picking up her grandchildren from school and particularly, she gave up on the comfortable pension she could receive. At the age of 72, while all her friends were still talking about what Facebook is and how WhatsApp is used, Bar decided to turn her company, "Hafatzim", into an online furniture store.

"When you're young, it is easier to adapt to technological changes, but I decided that I should maintain the young spirit of a growing company and chose to focus on the online stores only. Now, two years later, I think that I did the right thing", says Bar.

International research, conducted by PayPal, showed that in 2016, Israeli customers purchased products and services worth NIS 11.8 billion online, up 18% from 2015. Statistics on leading Israeli websites match the international data, with growth of 100% in the number of online buyers in the last four years. According to the research, from the humble beginnings of purchasing gadgets and electronics, the online shopping of today encompasses all areas of life, from fashion and cosmetics to shoes and toys, and of course, furniture and kitchen accessories.

Bar realized that unless she starts speaking the language of Generation Y and turns her company into a profitable online store, she might find herself out of the game. "I decided to close all my stores across Israel at once and launch an online store", says Bar. "I realized that risk is involved, but I kept up with innovations all my life, so now, in my advanced age, I am not planning to stay behind."

Didn't you want to retire?

"I believe that if you are able to work - you should work, it gives me the strength to get up every morning. I am 72 years old and at the peak of my career, pension is a term that does not exist in my lexicon. Pension is just another pattern, which is irrelevant to so many people. In 2017 you can see many examples, from A to Z, many people who should ostensibly retire, discover a new beginning. Here is a current example – US President Donald Trump is a pensioner, as are many senior executives, doctors, etc.".

Who buys furniture online? It is known that Israelis mostly buy clothes online

"If you buy clothes that are often especially designed and should fit perfectly, it is much easier to buy furniture. We offer only the daily used items - from teaspoon to a bed, furniture, textiles, housewares and accessories. The website provides effective solutions to a wide range of home needs. Our extensive experience indicates that people from various socioeconomic backgrounds have been shopping at "Hafatzim" for years. Nowadays, thanks to technology, I don't have to pay rent for expensive real estate in city centers. As a result, all the prices of all products have been reduced. This is also the reason why the company started operating on the Internet - consumers are looking for more value in a competitive world and if I can offer a better price, the customer is the one who will benefit from it, rather than various institutions, and for me it is the most important thing".

What are your future plans for the website?

"The next step is to expand the website that will serve as a platform for trading both in Israel and abroad, while striving to maintain company's approach to offer products that fit perfectly and serve as a solution, rather than just being prestigious. We plan to collaborate with a leading commercial website in China. We offer the format of the "Hafatzim" website, on which both the content and visual appearance are unique. I know the value of social media when it comes to business promotion, therefore, I started using such social networks, as Facebook and Instagram, and I plan to keep up with innovations in this field."

How do you attract people to buy a sofa online? A sofa is something a customer would like to sit on and check physically.

"A customer buys a sofa online if he finds the model and price attractive. In rare cases, when a customer wanted to replace the products, we made a quick home delivery. These customers were amazed by the efficiency of our service. Customers will order a sofa that cannot be checked physically only if they trust the brand. Significant traffic also comes from word of mouth and not only from web search. I suppose that customers have become accustomed to buying everything online, even a sofa".

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 23, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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Furniture stores Photo: Tamar Matsafi
Furniture stores Photo: Tamar Matsafi
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