Modern Woodwork: Your Company has changed the traditional furniture marketing methods to online marketing. Please tell us about the journey of your e-commerce platform.
Mr. Ashish Shah: Ecommerce is growing at a rapid clip driven by growth in internet users and a rapid increase in time spent online. Interestingly, a good part of business online comes from non-metro cities where there is low penetration of organized retail. For customers living in these cities, online retail platforms like Pepperfry.com has opened up a host of options to choose from.
We launched Pepperfry in response to this unmet customer need for a wide range of quality furniture and home products in India at one place. When we started our company there was a need for a wide range of products which existed across all town classes in India. Of the 200 towns with a population greater than 2 Lakh, all the organized offline retailers put together are present in only c.20 cities. We have shipped products to customers in more than a 1000 Indian cities in the past 4 years.
Modern Woodwork: What were the challenges that you faced while dealing with delivery system in a big country like India?
Mr. Ashish Shah: The logistics infrastructure in India especially for large item distribution is significantly under-developed. Shipping bulky but delicate items such as furniture is either prohibitively expensive or takes too much time.
In such a scenario, Pepperfry built a proprietary large item distribution logistics model. We commenced the origin to hub shipment process through contracted trucking arrangements in April 2013 and since then, we have significantly reduced per unit costs with increasing scale and operating efficiencies. Furniture moves from the points of origin to the distribution centers via long distance hauling contracts. From the distribution centers to the door steps of the end consumers we have our own network of more than 350 trucks covering 500 cities with the capability of delivering more than 100000 pcs per month.
Pepperfry today is as much a logistics company as it is a home and furniture marketplace.
Modern Woodwork: Modern Woodwork readers are aspiring furniture manufacturers in India who are seeking new avenues to succeed in better marketing of their products. They would like to know about the advantages of selling through your Company over the traditional methods of marketing [i.e.: via Showrooms/Dealers/Expos etc.]
Mr. Ashish Shah: The biggest advantage of selling on Pepperfry is the reach it provides. An offline retail format at times is constrained due to high real estate costs and poor city road infrastructure that limits the catchment area of consumers to 8-10 kms. The great quality of products that the manufacturers produce is therefore restricted to a small segment of consumers [constrained by geography and store size].
Pepperfry today has upwards of 3 million registered users and has distribution network in 17 cities that enables door delivery of large furniture products in 500 cities. Every month close to 3 million customers visit Pepperfry and buy furniture from 1000s artisans, SMEs and retailers across the country.
Modern Woodwork: On line marketing is the order of the day. Our readers would like to know What are the current trends in terms of online furniture sale i.e.: what kind of furniture is selling more on online portals – solid wood / panel furniture or modular furniture? Can you please elaborate?
Mr. Ashish Shah: Pepperfry’s promise to home consumers is to make largest variety of home and furniture products available to them at the most affordable prices. Pepperfry today showcases 11000+ variety of furniture products and is very well known for the solid wood offering in the country. The largest selling product category is beds and sofas in terms of value and coffee tables and shoe racks in terms of quantity sold. The online businesses are not constraint by space and hence I would recommend Furniture manufacturers/ retailers to make their entire catalogue available for sale on the site and let the consumers make their own purchase decision basis style and value.
Furniture shopping is largely inspiration and browse driven, which requires a content rich user interface with large visuals and specialized onsite experiences. Keeping these in consideration Pepperfry has built an excellent user interface and a tailored for furniture shopping experience. This experience is quite distinct from that of standard products, which are largely driven by search based behavior.
Modern Woodwork: What are the basic requirements you are looking from the furniture manufacturer to be a good partner with your company.
Mr. Ashish Shah: Pepperfry is a managed marketplace and it means that we work closely with SMEs and artisans to get their products listed on the site and make them available to millions of customers online. Today 80%+ of Pepperfry’s sales relate to SME suppliers and artisans. All you need to have is ability to build highly competent and quality home and furniture products and rest of the process is taken care of by our experienced category and business teams.
Modern Woodwork: How do you bridge the gap between supply and demand that is between ordering the furniture & delivery of furniture?
Mr. Ashish Shah: The primary sources or points of origin for our furniture shipments are: Delhi, Mumbai, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Bangalore, Nagpur etc. and we have 15 distribution centers across the country.
Furniture moves from the points of origin to the distribution centers via long distance hauling contracts. From the distribution centers to the door steps of the end consumers we have our own network of more than 350 trucks covering 300 cities with the capability of delivering more than 100000 pcs per month. Our network ensures quick and damage-free door step delivery of bulky furniture, covering 97%+ of furniture orders placed on the marketplace.
In addition to the efficient and wide delivery network we have a carpenter services desk which has more than 230 carpenters who can cover 200 cities overall and same-day in 100 cities. These carpenters do the assembly work that is required for furniture items, so that end consumers get a hassle-free one-stop end-2-end service.
Modern Woodwork: What is your message to Indian Furniture manufacturers?
Mr. Ashish Shah: India produces the best quality of furniture and is known for its craftsmanship across the globe. The overall furniture market is highly fragmented and is often restricted by the reach. The consumer behavior in India is changing and lot of millennials and today buying products from online platform for convenience and variety and hence I would suggest furniture manufacturers to adopt an omni-channel strategy to make best advantage of this opportunity to increase reach and gain more business. Platforms like Pepperfry.com are specialized players in the space and we work closely with 1000s of manufacturers and retailers across the country to provide them additional sales channel to grow their business. So logon and start adding more profits!