Flipkart is betting big on the online furniture segment by setting up experience centres using latest technologies to enable customers to make better buying decisions.
Known as FurniSure, these experience centres are powered by Google’s technology, wherein a customer can see furniture in a setting across the bedroom, living room and children’s room. Flipkart Furniture is using Google Lens, an AI-powered technology that uses phone camera and deep machine learning to detect an object, understand it and offer actions based on what it sees.
Visitors can use their smartphones to scan the Flipkart Furniture icon, which will then route them to the platform’s furniture page, allowing them to explore the product catalogue shop through the Flipkart app. “You can get access to our 80,000 furniture products at experience centres,” said Adarsh Menon, vice-president and head for private labels, electronics and furniture at Flipkart.
“Furniture in India is a $17-billion industry. Over 3-5 years, online platforms will account for 15 per cent of the market, as compared to around 3 per cent at present. Flipkart will be at the forefront of it (capturing this demand),” said Menon.
As customers look for a touch-and-feel aspect before buying furniture online, Flipkart’s experience centres aim to bridge this gap by showcasing its certified products at strategic locations. The first such experience centre, spread across nearly 1,800 sq ft, has been launched in Bengaluru.
Flipkart Furniture will introduce two more centres in Bengaluru, after which it plans to expand it to other cities.
“Once we pick up the learning, we would scale up these centres across the country,” said Menon.
India's furniture market is multiplying, and it is expected to be worth more than $27 billion by the end of 2023, according to a report by ResearchAndMarkets.com. Factors contributing to the growth of India's furniture market are growing middle-class population, rising disposable income and the increasing number of urban households, said the report.
Small unorganised local players dominate the furniture market in India. But since the last decade, the Indian furniture market is witnessing an increase in the contribution from organised players. In recent years, with the entry of global furnishing players like IKEA, the market share of organised players will further grow, according to the research firm.
Flipkart started the furniture category two years ago, and according to Menon, it has already become the biggest online furniture player in the country.
The company started the furniture business with 2,000 pin codes and has now covered nearly 12,000 pin codes.
“We are not only observing demand in metros but we are seeing 100 per cent quarter-on-quarter growth in smaller towns and cities such as Bhubaneswar, Vadodara, Kanpur and Surat,” said Menon. “In tier-4 and tier-5 places such as Gaya, Muzaffarpur and Agartala, our furniture business is growing at almost 300 per cent quarter-on-quarter.”