Bean bags, lamps, beds, table décor, mattresses, recliners, home fragrance, gardening tools are among frequently bought items. Flipkart has seen a 50 per cent increase in bar cabinet sales.
Most of us have been working from home for almost six months now. We seem to have got used to the temporary WFH setups – a table with a reclining office chair in a quiet corner of the house. A pen stand, water bottle and house plant next to the laptop. A study lamp next to our favourite books and offices folders. Some have kept it simpler, with a foldable, easy-to-carry laptop table, and cushions to support the back.
Most of these setups are fairly recent, with the tables and chairs just a couple of months younger than the Coronavirus. The pandemic hit India in late February, and so the need for such a setup was felt in most households. And, as soon as e-commerce deliveries resumed in May in most parts of the country, the sale of WFH furniture and home décor items shot up.
Since Unlock 1.0, e-commerce giant Amazon has recorded a 2x growth in the furniture category, led by a 3.5x increase in the sale of office furniture. The sellers on Amazon have also seen an increase in the demand for study from home furniture, such as study tables, chairs, laptop desks, and more. The home décor category on Amazon has also seen higher demand, led mostly by functional and hobby-led sub-categories.
“The customers are looking for the right products to create a personalised space suitable for a working environment, ensuring productivity and positivity. We have seen demand across cities, like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Ahmedabad, and even Tier-II cities,” an Amazon spokesperson told afaqs!.
Apart from WFH furniture, the sellers on Amazon have seen a 1.5x surge in the demand for products, such as beds, mattresses and recliners. Bean bags alone have seen a 2.2x increase in demand, as compared to pre-COVID times.
“The customers in Bengaluru are buying office furniture, mattresses, bedroom furniture, recliners and bean bags on Amazon,” the Amazon spokesperson added.
The e-commerce platform recorded maximum spike in categories, like home fragrances, candles and home décor accents.
Bengaluru-based Flipkart has seen a 3x rise in the demand for WFH furniture since February. Cities, such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Gurugram, have been among the top regions that have witnessed an increase in the demand for WFH essentials.
“This trend is visible in non-metros too, where there has been a 2x increase in the demand for WFH furniture. The consumers are now also focusing on home improvement and renovating their spaces due to the increased time (spent) at home. (It) is evident from the high demand seen in the storage and pet furniture segments,” said Manish Kumar, senior vice president, furniture, grocery and general merchandise at Flipkart.
He adds that while the consumers across the country are shopping for essentials, they are also looking for other categories to meet their work, study and home improvement requirements. To meet the growing demand, several new office furniture sellers are coming online, while the existing ones are entering this space, resulting in an overall increase of 40 per cent in WFH furniture sellers on Flipkart.
"To meet the growing demand, several new office furniture sellers are coming online, while the existing ones are entering this space."Manish Kumar
“We are also helping them with necessary guidance, in terms of the product portfolio and financing, to meet their needs. While work and learn from home have been the key factors driving the demand, virtual social gatherings too have contributed, with the demand for bar cabinets increasing by 50 per cent, as compared to pre-lockdown levels,” Kumar tells afaqs!.
As people are spending more time at home than ever before, the living space has become the centre stage and the many needs at home have been amplified. Kavitha Rao, IKEA Group India’s country commercial manager, opines that people, in general, have gained a better understanding that having the right furniture and accessories at home will help them have a better everyday life in these very difficult times.
“While work from home furniture, cooking and eating-related products, and storage and organising-related products are seeing higher sales, home décor is also a category that is doing well,” she says.
Rao believes home décor provides people the opportunity to spend less, but still change the look and feel of their home. “People are beginning to see home décor as a great way to keep homes updated in an affordable way, without having to spend a lot of money.”
"People are choosing products that are high on design, very unique, and differentiated from the market."Kavitha Rao
IKEA has seen a 3x to 5x increase in the sale of WFH-related furniture and accessories. The brand today has a presence in Hyderabad, both as a large format store as well as through e-commerce. In Mumbai and Pune, it has a presence through e-commerce. In both these markets, the designer and seller of ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories are seeing similar trends, when it comes to WFH cooking and eating, storage and organising, and home décor products.
Commenting on the buying trends, Rao mentions, “The buying behaviour we see is the outcome of what our customers see as a need, want, or a desire. It is interesting to see that customers are buying home décor as much. More importantly, people are choosing products that are high on design, very unique, and differentiated from the market.”
There is a lot of interest in planting and growing, cooking and eating, and storage and organising products, perhaps, because people have more time on their hands, Rao points out.
Online furniture store Pepperfry recorded similar trends. It saw the demand for study tables and ergonomic office chairs increase by 185 per cent and 175 per cent respectively in June, as compared to pre-COVID levels. The demand for other items, such as bean bags, lights, lamps and table décor, also grew, post-lockdown.
“With people being at home most of the time, bean bags, in particular, have seen an uptake, given they are mobile and space-saving in nature,” comments Kashyap Vadapalli, chief marketing officer and business head, Pepperfry.
Home office furniture constituted 45 per cent of the e-com platform’s furniture sales during lockdown. It was about 10 per cent in the pre-COVID era, and is currently around 25 per cent.
“In addition to absolute requirements, like tables and chairs, items that address ergonomic needs, like beds and mattresses (as several people end up working on their beds), have also seen a lot of traction,” Vadapalli says. The consumers are also showing an interest in items, like different seating options, certain kinds of sooth lighting and lamps, décor, etc., he adds.
“With more people considering online shopping to be a safer option, first-time-buyers (FTB) grew more than repeat buyers in Tier-II cities. Our FTB business contribution increased (by) 500bps for Tier-II cities and beyond.
Pepperfry witnessed an upsurge of 40-50 per cent in the time spent by consumers on the site and page depth, i.e., the number of pages a consumer visits in a particular session. This, Vadapalli says, indicates that the viewers are now far more indulgent – they are not just browsing, but are taking the time to do their research as well.
“In fact, as the lockdown eased in certain parts of the country, our orders increased, and currently, we are already back to 90-95 per cent of pre-COVID levels,” he states.
“The average order value (AOV) across the site in July and August is at par with pre-COVID levels, i.e. Rs 12,000. Specifically for furniture, the average order value is in the Rs 22,000 range. The WFH furniture category continues to have a good share of our furniture sales.”
"With more people considering online shopping to be a safer option, first-time-buyers grew more than repeat buyers in Tier-II cities."Kashyap Vadapalli
“There is definitely a shift towards customers setting home offices and seeking better WFH infrastructure. As increasing number of organisations adopt this trend, we anticipate that the requirements for related-furniture will sustain itself. We think that the share will double, as compared to the pre-COVID level, even in the long-term,” Vadapalli signs off.