When she needed furniture for her new rented apartment after a move to Delhi for work, Sugandh Swani decided to explore the online space. “The best part of my shopping experience was the variety on offer. I am sure I would not have been able to check this vast range of furniture had I gone to the markets. The prices were very reasonable, sparing me the pain of bargaining with the shopkeepers,” says Swani, who has bought coffee tables, bookshelves and other living room furniture and will get a bed soon.
The mushrooming of e-commerce players in the furniture, home and décor space over the past five years has changed the way people style their living spaces. “The number of shoppers increases particularly during the festive season. During Diwali, we have seen an impressive surge in the number of buyers as this is the time when people like to renovate their homes and buy new furniture. We have also seen a good rise in number of shoppers during the wedding season,” says Ashish Garg, co-founder, FabFurnish.
From wall paintings to clocks, coffee tables, sofas and beds, people are buying everything from within the comfort of their homes - all of these, at highly discounted prices and zero travel costs. A quick chat with some of these dotcoms reveals that most buyers are specifically focused on their living rooms and picking up furniture for that space. “Sofas and seating are our bestselling categories. More than 30% of sales come from our living room category, followed by dining and other living room categories such as coffee tables, bookcases, TV units and others,” says Prithvi Raj Tejavath, VP - category management, Urban Ladder. He adds that there is a lot of demand for accent and lounge seating, as Indian homeowners are beginning to experiment with colour.
Home décor is among the biggest categories in product selection at Amazon India. “Customers in this category are constantly in search of new designs and products such as wall clocks, wall stickers, mirrors, photo frames and artwork. Wall stickers are amongst the fastest growing sub-categories, growing at double the rate at which the home décor category grew in the last quarter. Showpieces, idols and figurines and artificial flora are amongst the other popular categories, the Amazon India spokesperson said.
Beds and wardrobes are also popular. “Most of our consumers are people setting up their homes, especially newly married people or those who have moved into the city. These people furnish their living rooms as well as bedrooms. Beds and wardrobes are basic usage furniture in every household, therefore making these the largest selling products,” says Kashyap Vadapalli, chief marketing officer, Pepperfry.
At Pepperfry, the largest selling category accounting for 14% of sales is beds. In Delhi NCR, wardrobes have a large number of takers, making it the largest selling product in the region. At FabFurnish, another e-furniture company that has been in the space since 2012, sofas, beds and wardrobes sell the most at their site, whereas the demand is relatively lesser for wall shelves, coffee tables and similar furniture.
At RoomStory, small furniture items and soft furnishings like curtains and table linen comprise of 40% each of their sales while the remaining 20% comprises of decoration items.
In a short span of time, these furniture-selling online players have witnessed a good interest level among customers. For instance, Pepperfry has already fulfilled one million customer orders by May 2015. At Amazon India, too, launched in September 2013, the home décor category is increasingly gaining popularity and has witnessed more than 35% growth in quarter-on-quarter demand in the second quarter of 2015, the Amazon India spokesperson said. “The furniture market is growing at a rapid pace. A major portion of the market is unorganised which means that the growth potential here is immense. In the past, we saw growth of around 50% year-on -year in terms of the number of shoppers,” Garg adds.