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India’s furniture rental industry in 2021: What to expect

For almost a year now, our lives have been topsy-turvy due to the Covid-19 impact. While traditional and offline businesses were adversely impacted and even faced closures in the aftermath of the pandemic, the demand for online furniture rentals in India, on the other hand, spiked notably since the start of the unlock phase, thereby ushering a silver lining for companies/startups in this domain.

At a time when the world is adapting to the “new normal” way of living, the rental furniture business is also poised for major transformation/evolution, and is sure to witness many new trends and opportunities in 2021. 

Here are some of the key trends we believe will dominate Indian furniture rental industry through the current year:

Corporate furniture renting will become the new normal

At a time when the economy is going through a recession-like phase and companies are prioritising on cutting costs, it is making all the more sense for corporates to opt for rented furniture.

As physical workplaces across the country start opening up post-pandemic, many corporates as well as mid-sized companies will be looking to rent instead of buying new furniture in large quantities, and some of these companies may even go as far as subscribing to yearly furniture rental services for their offices in 2021. 

Home-office furniture demand

As we embraced the ‘remote working’ or ‘virtual working’ culture amid the pandemic, the demand for home-office furniture shot up dramatically in the second half of 2020.

Even though vaccines to overcome the virus have now arrived, many companies (including giant tech, IT and MNCs) are expected to continue to partly or fully stick to WFH for a large part of 2021, and may make this a way of working long term.

Therefore the demand for home-office furniture does not seem to be fizzling out anytime soon, which is going to create a new product demand in the industry. 

The rise of multi-functional furniture: 

The industry has in recent years seen an increased preference among consumers/end-users looking for using multi-functional furniture pieces, such as sofa-cum-bed, desk-turned-cabinet, etc. Even in 2021, multipurpose, convertible and/or portable furniture will increasingly drive the furniture rental market of our country, both at offices/workspaces and inside our homes.

From an interior design perspective, not only these types of furniture make our rooms look more spacious and aesthetically beautiful, but the fact that these can be transformed quickly and easily to cater to our various daily needs is what makes multi-functional furniture items stand out and constantly grow in popularity.

Tier II, Tier III cities to play a major role in furniture rental ecosystem

Until few years back, the furniture rental market in India would remain concentrated majorly to Tier I cities. However, with the rapid proliferation of Internet and mobile devices, the scenario has changed, and several Tier II and Tier III cities or towns are now also emerging as furniture rental hotspots.

A significant majority of the population in these cities is opting to rent furniture, as it is an affordable and easy way of procuring the items when needed and then returning the same once done, minus the hassle of moving the heavy, old-style furniture as and when one shifts residences.

In 2021, riding upon the wave of the booming ‘shared economy’ concept, more Tier II and Tier III cities of the nation are expected to start driving increased demand for rented furniture. 

Innovation is the way forward

With experiential lifestyle on the rise and investments from angel/VC firms aplenty, the furniture rental industry in our country is becoming more competitive than ever. Hence, it has become the need of the hour for furniture rental providers to position themselves uniquely in the market. In the months to come, technology and innovation will remain at the forefront of adding more value in the furniture rental space.

Recognizing the impact of digitisation and changing lifestyles of today’s consumers, furniture rental companies will look forward to think creatively, innovate consistently, and introduce new offerings as well as value-added services such as free delivery and installation in an attempt to woo customers and win their trust for the long-term. 

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YS.)

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