Inspiring Start-ups: How Pepperfry.com brought furniture online
The e-commerce industry in India is booming rapidly. The early movers in e-commerce are expanding their portfolio, as well as exploring new horizons, whereas innovative players are coming up with niche offerings. Indian E-commerce is creating economic growth by generating fresh business segments, promoting competitiveness and ensuring the spread of best business practices. There are no entry restrictions in the virtual market place; therefore it acts as an open platform for craftsmen and manufacturers alike. This in turn comes with new employment opportunities, making the entrepreneurship ecosystem an important aspect of the overall economy.
Laying Foundations: How did it all begin?
Identifying the advantages of e-commerce and empowered by their stint in eBay, Ambareesh Murty and Ashish Shah started an e-commerce portal called Pepperfry.com in 2011. Their aim was to enter the $2 billion worth niche furniture and home decor market in India as part of its broader lifestyle e-com venture. By 2013, this Mumbai-based startup claimed to cross Rs 100 crores in gross merchandise value within a year of operations. It took in $8 million more from existing investor Norwest Venture Partners in April that year, taking the sum capital invested close to $13 million.
Mr. Murty already gathered a detailed knowhow of the online digital market from his stint as the country head of “eBay” India. It was here that he met Ashish Shah, former head of eBay Motors India and Philippines, and decided to start the venture.
Evolution of the Brand: Why Furniture?
In its initial days of launch, Pepperfry featured brands like Lotto, Peter England, Little India, Octave, Allen Solly, Beverly Hills Polo Club and L’Oreal etc. and allowed users to browse the various departments using filters for brands, product type, size, color, design and other variables. But over time, they saw more success in furniture & home décor category; so much so that it contributed to 80 per cent of their overall revenues. They deduced that their selection and variety offered were far superior to the quality of furniture that was offered in the online or offline furniture market.
In the startup phase they noticed that there were no really large online players in the furniture space. They saw it as a large market opportunity, amounting to nearly $7 billion in furniture and nearly $20 billion, adding up all the other components of home décor. They figured consumers’ wallet sizes will only increase every day and hence decided to focus on this niche space of Furniture, Home Decor, Kitchen & Dining, etc.
The Mumbai-based startup made news in 2015 for raising about US$100 million in a series D funding led by Goldman Sachs and Zodius Technology Fund. PepperFry today competes with young sites such as UrbanLadder and Fabfurnish – plus the online shopping titan Flipkart.
Awards & Accolades
- Pepperfry got recognized in the “2012 Red Herring Asia Top 100” which honors the most promising private technology ventures from Asia.
- It won the “Pure-Play e-Retailer of the Year” at the Indian e-Retail Congress 2014 that recognizes outstanding performance and innovation in retail.
- Pepperfry won the Gold award at the Neons for Best Creative under the category of Retail Advertising for its Outdoor campaign – ‘Happy Furniture to You’.
“We are a great team and have good communication. We are direct people and won’t hesitate to say what we have to say to each other.” – Says CEO, Ambareesh Murty. Perhaps one of the most important things in a startup is good communication and Pepperfry.com has it nailed to perfection.