Home office products take off as work-from-home routine continues

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Updated: Sep 14, 2020 11:25 AM

Flipkart, which recently concluded its Big Savings Day sale, has registered a threefold rise in demand for study tables, chairs and laptop tables since February

Driven by the demand for work-from-home products, manufacturers have seen a growth in shipments in Q2 2020.Driven by the demand for work-from-home products, manufacturers have seen a growth in shipments in Q2 2020.

As professionals working from home feel the need to create self-sufficient workstations, the demand for laptops, computer accessories and furniture such as study tables, desks and chairs has risen considerably. With schools still shut, the study-from-home phenomenon, too, is contributing to the rise in sales of personal devices. Companies like Dell, HP and Lenovo have curated a range of products for students and working professionals. Laptops, especially, have been flying off the shelves, say industry executives — manufacturers sold out almost all of their inventory in June and July.

Flipkart, which recently concluded its Big Savings Day sale, has registered a threefold rise in demand for study tables, chairs and laptop tables since February. There has also been a 30% increase in office furniture sellers on Flipkart.

WFH is big business

Driven by the demand for work-from-home products, manufacturers have seen a growth in shipments in Q2 2020 — Lenovo registered a 31.6% growth over last year, while HP recorded 11.8% growth — according to IDC.

Amit Doshi, chief marketing officer, Lenovo India and South Asia, says there has been a demand for laptops across the spectrum. “Some are looking for sophisticated products for work requirements; gaming, which has shot up during the lockdown, is driving sales of specialised high-performance premium devices; and the study-from-home category is concentrated on entry-level products.” A Flipkart spokesperson informs that the demand for gaming laptops and Core i3 laptops has witnessed a significant increase in states like Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi and Karnataka.

A few companies shifted gears and diversified into products that facilitate working from home. For instance, Wakefit, which primarily focusses on sleep solutions, forayed into furniture in July. Godrej Interio and Nilkamal have ramped up their capacities to cater to the increase in demand for work-from-home furniture. Godrej Interio, says its associate vice president, marketing (B2B), Sameer Joshi, is seeing greater traction in this category as compared to products like wardrobes, beds and sofas, with higher demand from tier I and II cities that house corporate offices.

Ankit Garg, co-founder and CEO, Wakefit.co, says the demand for furniture is mainly in the value-for-money price band — Rs 5,000-10,000. According to IDC data, those buying laptops now prefer products in the Rs 30,000-40,000 range.

Enterprise sales have also contributed significantly to the sales of devices in the last few months. As per IDC, IT companies, global enterprises and consulting firms placed large orders for notebook PCs during the countrywide lockdown. Furniture makers, too, have been fulfilling orders from corporations. Godrej Interio has associated with a few corporates for whose employees the company is selling products at pre-agreed rates.

Work in progress

Manufacturers have had to offer discounts, packages and cross-promotions to lure customers, given the grim outlook for discretionary spends. HP is bundling products like laptop, headphones and mouse, or laptop and printer/extra monitor. Featherlite, a furniture manufacturer, is offering a 10% discount on purchases to Lenovo customers. Godrej Interio has put together combos of chairs and tables to make the deal attractive for buyers.

While consumers are availing these discounts, manufactures and retailers hope the festive season sale will add further impetus. “To take advantage of the rise in demand, furniture companies will need to stock a wide range of furniture on their digital storefronts. This is not the case right now,” says Alagu Balaraman, partner and MD (India operations), CGN & Associates.

Going beyond discounts and promotional tie-ups, customising products to suit this new need will be crucial in driving sales. “Product redesign is important. People will not have the space they had in an office; so, they will need compact designs. Also, unlike office furniture, which is bland, products for home need to match the décor,” points out Balaraman.

Device manufacturers will need to step up their initiatives for the study-from-home category, which is still largely untapped. Jaipal Singh, associate research manager, IDC India, says there are two main challenges in this segment — affordability and connectivity. “To unlock the large e-learning opportunity, vendors need to develop cross-platform solutions and build partnerships within the e-learning ecosystem that can help scale up the adoption of e-learning devices across the country,” he adds.

Read Also: Why betting big on IPL and digital media will prove to be beneficial for brands

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