Worldstores is an example of a Product business model in the retail homewares sector. The company buys products from manufacturers and wholesalers around the world and resells them to retail customers in the UK. It uses algorithms and software to monitor online searches to determine what home and garden products customers are looking for and adjusts its purchasing from manufacturers and warehouses accordingly. As a result, the company holds very little inventory itself. When a customer purchases a product online, Worldstores handles the delivery from warehouse or manufacturer to the customer, and earns money on the margin between their wholesale purchase and retail sale.


Worldstores was founded by Joe Murray and Richard Tucker in 2007. The entrepreneurs previously ran Optelligence Europe, an online marketing firm. While working on Optelligence, the two noted that web users were searching for homeware and gardenware products yet the websites that they landed on offered a limited selection and slow delivery times. Worldstores was founded to provide wider access to these products with better delivery services, and today offers 175,000 products from over 700 suppliers.

The company has received over $70M in investments from four investment firms, including Balderton Capital and Goldman Sachs, and is moving towards an IPO in the next couple years. The online market for homeware and gardenware products is relatively crowded, with two notable competitors being Hayneedle and Wayfair.

Customers are individuals living in the UK who have access to the Internet and search online for products for their home or garden, such as furniture and accessories.

Learn more about the Product Business Model

A dyadic transactional relationship where your good or service can be designed and delivered without prior interactions with the customer.

Engagement  — Value Creation Proposition
Through several different branded websites, each with the suffix “World” (e.g., SofaBedWorld), WorldStores offers customers a wide variety of products for their homes and gardens. WorldStores also offers rapid shipping and home delivery (including setup in-home for larger items like beds) as part of its product business model. Customers are able to search for, sort, categorize, and filter the large range of products that WorldStores offers in order to select a specific product that meets their needs. WorldStores offers all customers a policy of “14 Day No Quibble Refund”, and it will only charge the cost of recovering goods from customers.

Delivery — Value Chain

WorldStores has developed a complex data analysis system by which the company tracks web searches for home furnishings and gardenware and adjusts its demand from suppliers and warehouses accordingly. As a result, WorldStores has developed close relationships with over 700 different suppliers and warehouses, and installs its own tracking software and hardware in order to monitor the stock that remains in each warehouse and to track the products from the warehouse to the customers’ doorstep.

Worldstores does not have a physical brick-and-mortar presence, and holds almost no inventory in its own warehouses. Its algorithms and software that monitor internet searches and inventory enable the company to fulfil 95 per cent of web orders direct from suppliers.

Worldstores also became the first mass-market furniture retailer to offer a next day, day of choice, “white-glove,” room of choice delivery service for large-item deliveries to almost any part of the UK. The company is building out its own fulfillment fleet, with the target of offering next-day delivery of large items within a one-hour window, seven days a week. This sets WorldStores apart from most other traditional furniture retailers.

Monetisation — Value Capture
WorldStores earns money on the margin between what it pays manufacturers and wholesalers for products and what it sells these products for at retail prices to the end customer. WorldStores may also make a small margin on delivery fees that it charges to customers.



Disclaimer — Written by Luwen Chen and edited by James Knuckles under the direction of Prof Charles Baden-Fuller, Cass Business School. This case is designed to illustrate a business model category. It leverages public sources and is written to further management understanding, and it is not meant to suggest individuals made either correct or incorrect decisions. © 2016 Published 23 April 2016