Feature

The Reliance-Urban Ladder deal is good news for Pepperfry — Or is it?

The dynamics of the online furniture retail market have changed dramatically. What’s in store for the players? 

"It doesn’t get old.” You can hear the smile in Kashyap’s voice as he speaks of his response when people tell him they are Pepperfry customers. It is a world away from when he joined the digital-first furniture and home décor company in 2013. “Then, I had to explain to people just what Pepperfry was,” he recalls. These days, he meets customers almost everywhere he goes. The chief marketing officer and business head of the Bengaluru-based start-up sees these changing customer reactions as stages in the evolution of the market. Phase 1 started in 2012-13, when the first specialised retailers, including Pepperfry and Urban Ladder, began their operations online, and phase 2 about five years later, when large, multi-product players jumped onto the bandwagon. Now, as the online furniture retail market enters its next stage, Vadapalli is looking forward to hearing customer affirmations even more frequently.


But, there’s a lot going on right now. Swedish home furnishings major Ikea is pushing deeper into India; Reliance Ventures scooped up Urban Ladder in a fire sale that surprised almost nobody; and, of course, there’s the elephant in the living room, COVID-19. The competitive landscape is altering before Pepperfry’s eyes. How is the Reliance-Urban Ladder deal especially going to impact Pepperfry and other online furniture retailers? Here’s the shocker. It seems counterintuitive to think that a megacorporation’s entry into a minuscule but growing market will help start-ups, but it will (Terms and conditions apply).

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