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Great Advice on Establishing Your Own Online Design Shop from Melanie Adams

This is an interview with Melanie, where she shares valuable information on how to stay alive in the competitive interior design field.

Wallpaperdirect.com launched in 2000. The online shop was founded by Melanie Adams who thought that the ‘touchy feely’ process of buying wallpapers online would no longer be a problem if they could provide a good sampling service and the ability to show the papers in a room set. And, guess what, it worked. Now, Wallpaperdirect is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary.

Melanie got inspired to work in the field of interior design because of her mother who, when Melanie was young, did a lot of schemes for ladies who only wanted the design done by a female. She would put the scheme together, decorate, make the drapes/upholstery and even carpet fit carpets! Melanie expressed that she learnt a lot from her mother and therefore decided to follow in her footsteps.

What’s wallpaperdirect’s prior focus?

Wallpaper direct has always focused on making both choosing and buying wallpaper easy! We strive to offer the widest range of wallpaper and help you choose by narrowing the search criteria, and helping you visualize how it will look. Obviously, it is fantastic to have lots to choose from (I think we have over 7,000 styles currently!) but where to start and what it will look like on the wall is sometimes difficult. To help we focus on both brands and coloring, as these are the starting points for most.

When working with interior design, what must your expertise be to survive in this quite competitive field?

There are two key areas that anyone wanting to work in interior design must nail – being decisive and knowing your product. What customers need is your help and guidance – they need to know what will work, not given even more choice. Also, I learnt from my mother that just because you have a beautiful product, does not mean it will work for everyone or every room, so understanding how things will look in situ is critical alongside having a good knowledge of the amazing range of products available.

What are good and bad aspects with establishing online shops?

The best aspect of establishing your online shop is making things easier for your customer – and this was our main goal in starting wallpaperdirect. At the same time, customers shopping online do have a high expectation, and rightly so, of customer service and delivery, and these are factors we heavily focus on. We send thousands of free wallpaper samples out every month, even though this can be time consuming and expensive. We also work closely with carriers to ensure, as best we can, that parcels are delivered promptly and in good condition.

What advice do you have for other designers who are interested in founding online shops?

If you are thinking of getting into e-commerce, then the first port of call is to make sure that the website accurately reflects both your offer and your style – this need to be prominent throughout the design and wording. Secondly, make sure you have done your homework on the supply chain and delivery process; otherwise it could end up costing you time and money.

What will wallpaperdirect’s future look like?

I am working on a number of additional services helping our customers complete their look and interior theme with curtains, bedding, rugs, etc. to make it easy to complete a scheme. What we need to be careful of is not to complicate the job of choosing and buying wallpaper, which we know our customers love.

It has been, and continues to be, an exciting world to work in and the success of wallpaperdirect has been hard work but wonderful. There are always going to be challenges to maintain our customer expectations but I relish them!


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