Furniture adds extra spring to online sales

By: and | Updated: November 1, 2015 1:11 AM

The online furniture market, which is around $130 mn currently, is expected to reach $700 mn by 2020 according to market estimates

E-commerce major Flipkart, which made its entry into this category recently, was pleasantly surprised with the sales during its recently-concluded Big Billion Sale.E-commerce major Flipkart, which made its entry into this category recently, was pleasantly surprised with the sales during its recently-concluded Big Billion Sale.

When shelves started flying off websites during Diwali sales this year, e-tailers nearly fell off their chairs. The 200-300% rise in furniture sales during the sale period, as compared to last year, shows how utility can trump lifestyle purchases, at least occasionally.

The online furniture market, which is around $130 million currently, is expected to reach $700 million by 2020 according to market estimates.

E-commerce major Flipkart, which made its entry into this category recently, was pleasantly surprised with the sales during its recently-concluded Big Billion Sale. In an interaction with FE, Flipkart’s chief business officer Ankit Nagori said, “The way customers shopped for furniture was a big surprise for us, considering it is a new category for us.” Flipkart recorded 200 times its average daily number of sales in the furniture segment during its five-day discount period.

Pepperfry, one of the leading specialised player in this segment, is expecting a 300% growth in sales this year. Going by its previous year’s experience, Pepperfry had planned much in advance to gear up for the festive season, which included increasing the merchant on-boarding and expanding the logistics capability. “All these efforts, plus our back-to-back advertising campaigns, have collectively led to a huge jump in the demand. We are expecting about 300% growth this year,” said Kashyap Vadapalli, CMO, Pepperfry. “Since the past few years, we have seen furniture sales going up considerably during this time,” he remarked.

The highly fragmented furniture market in India, with few organised players, is now a highly competitive space with the entry of online players like Urban Ladder, Pepperfry and FabFurnish, besides horizontal entities like Amazon and Snapdeal.

Urban Ladder, a market leader in the segment, has also upped the ante. “This is the time when customers are looking at investing in furniture and decor more than any other time of the year. As a result we have launched a big range of new products,” said Prithvi Raj Tejavath, vice-president, category management, Urban Ladder.

Given this demand, the competition among players in the furniture segment is expected to intensify in the days to come. Nagori of Flipkart said, “The Big Billion Sale became a good springboard for the furniture category to grow. I am very confident that in the next three-six months, Flipkart will be the largest marketplace for furniture in the country.”

The festive period also saw considerable discounts by the various players to bring in the buyers. Vadapalli of Pepperfry said, “Discounts and sales help in promoting online shopping for such categories, which is beneficial for all e-commerce companies.”

According to Tejavath of Urban Ladder, the preference of customers during the festive season is on purchase and delivery experience, and they have kept their prices consistent across the year.

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