Meutia Kumala is used to facing challenges. She tackles them head on, taking them in her stride to innovate and develop, which is why she didn’t falter when COVID-19 hit.
Refusing to capitulate to the pandemic and plummeting sales, the Managing Director of Indonesia’s most popular furnishings store, PT Home Center Indonesia, relied instead on her sharply honed instincts to quickly reconfigure her business and turn around the mindset of her customers.
“Foot traffic in malls was declining,” she explains. “There was also a shift in spending priorities to more basic necessities, such as hygiene products. Furniture was not necessarily at the top of the list of things to buy.”
PT Home Center Indonesia is the country’s most popular furniture and lifestyle store, with 100 outlets stocking its Informa brand across 45 cities and 15 million customers passing through in just the past three years.
There’s a range to suit every abode, with Informa catering to the medium and upper segment; Selma offering an affordable range for the medium segment, and Home Galleria, its luxury lifestyle range. Informa Custom Furniture provides custom-made furnishings, while Informa Electronics offers an extensive range of home electronics and appliances.
Visiting a PT Home Center Indonesia store is like entering a vast supermarket chock-full of household wares. It’s literally the go-to one-stop shop where everything you could possibly need to furnish a home, office or commercial space is available all under one roof.
An extraordinary range of items is on offer, from sofas to appliances, from dining tables to shelves and from electronics to storage solutions. Meanwhile, it boasts accessories you never knew you needed, including pendant lamps, teepees, succulent plants or even natty chalkboards featuring old-fashioned produce.
Meutia began her career as a buyer for Ace Hardware before drawing on her experience to co-found PT Home Center Indonesia in 2004. She was appointed Managing Director in 2014 with her primary focus on maintaining the company’s leadership in the competitive furniture and homewares market.
This included not only offering a modern take on decor but providing good value for money. With products sourced from around the world and an increasing number obtained from local suppliers, the variety is enormous.
Meutia happily admits all her furniture throughout every room of her own home sports the Informa brand with accessories adding a personal touch. “Our accessories complement every room in the house,” she says.
Whether you’re the leader of a company or a mother to your kids, always do your best.
“Previously in Indonesia, furniture stores were quite traditional, offering a limited range and negotiable prices. As a modern retailer, we had to educate our customers about the value added to our brand; that includes great customer service and an excellent experience. We also had to incorporate the shift in shopping habits from instore to online.”
Having always had an uncanny instinct when it came to understanding customer needs, Meutia’s first priority when lockdowns were enforced during COVID-19 was to reach out to her market.
She started with an “email blast” from the company’s CEO to reassure customers that, while health and safety came first, it was business as usual. Her next move was to meet the demand for different products.
“We supplied a range of hygiene products including hand sanitisers, surface wipes, soaps and even fabric spray specially formulated for furniture, carpet, linen, mattresses, bags and dolls. Our surface sanitising wipes don’t contain chlorine or bleach, which can cause irritation, and our antiseptic wipes are alcohol, fragrance and preservative free, making them safe for everyone to use.”
Meutia’s next and possibly most prudent step was to convince her customers that being confined to the house was an opportunity, a perfect opportunity in fact, to redesign and refurbish space within the home.
PT Home Center Indonesia wasted no time in offering solutions to create the ultimate and optimal home environment where working, studying and relaxing could be enjoyed in harmony and comfort.
“We inspired them to take advantage of the lockdown period, demonstrating how a working area could provide a comfortable ambience in the home, while a small playground and study area for the kids could leverage their creativity,” she says.
“We also helped with ideas for creating comfortable spaces for relaxing and refreshing minds and bodies.” An important part of Meutia’s strategy was to make her customers feel comfortable shopping anywhere, anytime via Informa’s omnichannel where products are available not only in offline stores but also easily accessible through Informa Online, WhatsApp or marketplaces provided by ecommerce platforms.
Technology and innovation have played an important role in supporting Informa’s business growth. A mobile app, the use of tablets by sales advisers instore and portable EDC terminals for easy payment are just a few examples.
Virtual private shopping tours by appointment were also introduced, with the excellent online tools attracting the attention of young customers. Informa also offered easy payment solutions for its customers, from interest-free credit card instalments to fast and easy credit offering for those without credit cards.
“We also provide services such as Furnipro furniture protection, a protection scheme for furniture damage or loss, and Clean & Care, a cleaning service for sofas, mattresses, carpets and air conditioners and disinfecting for home and buildings,” Meutia says.
“In 2019, we added a new rental service called Sewa Aja for customers requiring furniture short-term who would like the option to purchase it later.” Meutia acknowledges that, as a leader, the more responsibility given to the role the more challenging it is to please everybody.
With that in mind, she always considers the bigger picture when making strategic decisions and focuses on the positives. She also admits to being “quite” a workaholic, believing that in order to be a good role model, she has to lead by example rather than just issuing instructions.
“Whatever you do, whoever you are, do the best thing you can,” she says. “Whether you’re the leader of a company or a mother to your kids, always do your best.”
Proudly supported by: