Competition in India’s furniture market is now heating up after global furniture giant Ikea announced aggressive expansion plans in the country following the opening of its first Indian store in Hyderabad last month. India’s leading e-commerce player Flipkart has already launched a new sub-brand ‘Pure Wood’, a collection of solid wood furniture.

Walmart-backed Flipkart has partnered with solid wood furniture makers in cities like Jaipur and Jodhpur in Rajasthan for ‘Pure Wood’, which would be under its private label ‘Perfect Homes’. The collection named Amer, Mehrangarh, Nahargarh, Taragarh and Jaisalmer will be priced between 5,000-70,000.

E-commerce companies focus on private labels because they offer higher margins and enable better control of inventory. “If you see the furniture market in India, it is about USD 15 billion in size. And yet, 90 per cent of it is unorganised. Of the 10 per cent that is organised, online players take up only 10-15 per cent, so there is a huge scope of growth," Flipkart senior director (private labels) Shivani Suri said.

She added that estimates (internal and industry) suggest that online channels will account for 25-30% of the organised furniture market by 2020. While she declined to comment on revenue targets, Suri said Pure Wood and Perfect Homes would contribute significantly to the topline from the furniture category.

“Furniture is a difficult category. It’s not just about offering the ‘touch and feel’ experience, customers are looking for quality, durability and affordability. Using consumer insights from our platform, we are getting top designs in quality products at affordable prices for the customer," she said.

Asked about competition from Swedish giant IKEA, which recently launched its store in Hyderabad, Suri pointed out that the opportunity in the Indian market is huge. “I don’t want to comment on competition, I’m sure they have their own strategy in place. We are focussed on bringing an expansive range to customers, quality products that are affordable, accessible across India with a great service promise," she said.

IKEA set up its first store in India last month and has plans to open 25 stores by 2025. It is also looking to enter the e-commerce segment by next year, besides exploring small format stores as part of its expansion plans in the country. Within the online category, Flipkart competes with its American rival Amazon as well as players like Urban Ladder and Pepperfry.

The launch of the new range also comes ahead of Flipkart’s Big Billion Days sale that is slated for next month. Suri said furniture under Perfect Homes are available with FurniSure - a certification to assure customers of the quality and durability of the products.

The certification, she claimed, is offered after a rigorous test process conducted through NABL-accredited testing laboratories, including Intratek, MTS, BV, and SGS.