Driven by the pandemic and the lockdown, ecommerce has witnessed tremendous growth in 2020, and the trend seems likely to continue well into 2021.
The Indian ecommerce market was valued at $25.7 billion as of FY20, having grown at CAGR of over 35 percent, and is expected to reach $99 billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 27 percent over a period of 2019-2024.
While factors like increased broadband connectivity, smartphones, and the rise of digital economy offer strong supportive infrastructure, innovations on part of e-retailers, using emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality, have further helped push newer categories on the ecommerce platform, contributing to the growth.
Furniture is one such category that has witnessed massive growth in the online space over the past few years, with the pandemic accelerating this shift.
While the Indian online furniture market currently constitutes only 3 percent of the overall organised furniture sector, it has been growing at the rate of 30-40 percent year on year for the past five years.
The year 2020 saw some remarkable developments by key players that further fuelled the growth.
With the advent of international players, the furniture market in India is expected to get more organised and move towards omnichannel business models, with an innovative expansion of categories on the rise.
Here are the key factors on how ecommerce is set to play a role in this growth:
One of the key factors driving the shift of furniture retail from traditional brick-and-mortar stores to the online space is technology-empowered innovations made possible by modern ecommerce platforms. From well-listed and segmented products based on colour, function, and area to the use of AR and VR, online retail is now offering consumers a near-perfect and immersive buying experience.
For example, apps and portals are now offering consumers the options to set up a complete home/office through AR and VR, helping them visualise and select the best pieces of furniture.
Driven by data-based analytics and well-researched consumer buying patterns, online retailers are able to offer personalised solutions to consumers, based on their preferences. Customers can now request specific fabric and colour of furniture upholstery to match their home décor, or even choose sustainable/ green furniture designs, based on their individual tastes.
Personalisation in terms of functionality and consumer age can also be made, through easy online interactions with virtual assistants and online consultations, leading to a personalised buying experience.
Impactful consumer engagement
Through digital advertising, social media campaigns, and virtual assistants for personalised customer service, online retail has been leveraging AI and data analytics for effective, relevant, and impactful consumer engagement.
Apart from offering clients personalised customer service and customised shopping options, online retail has also been instrumental in helping modern consumers compare, evaluate, and make the best choice of furniture, keeping in mind the locality, budget, functionality etc., making the purchase most relevant and value-driven.
One of the key factors driving the growth of ecommerce is the expert hyperlocal logistics network. From efficient and timely deliveries with options to track shipment, to easy returns/ exchange policy, value-added services like furniture assembly and dismantling by last-mile service providers have been instrumental in the expanding reach and popularity of online furniture retail.
COVID-19 also highlighted the assured, ‘no-contact’ delivery features by these e-retailers, which further ensured consistent growth.
Apart from online purchase and easy deliveries, returns, or exchange of furniture, online players are also high on offering several value-added services. From offering innovative ‘rental furniture’ solutions – a sector that is also steadily rising – to flexible payment options, servicing, and maintenance of furniture, and customised interior décor consultations, a lot of online furniture retailers are going all out to please and engage with new-age consumers, adding value to the smallest of purchases.
Considering these factors and the already steady rise of furniture ecommerce, it is apparent that the future of Indian furniture retail will no longer set be confined to traditional modes but will take an omnichannel approach to witness substantial growth across metros as well as Tier II and III towns.
Driven by the millennial consumer, Indian online retail is set to lead the evolution of a holistic and comprehensive furniture and interior market, offering consultation, discussing design trends, offering personalisation and annual look books, etc., transforming the way India purchases and uses furniture.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)