Bengaluru: Online marketplace Flipkart has launched a furniture experience centre, thus marking the firm’s first foray into the offline world. Spread across 1,800 feet, Flipkart’s furniture experience centre in Bengaluru aims to give customers a glimpse into the selection offered along with creating awareness around seamless buying and installation, said the company on Sunday.
This move underscores the importance of having an offline presence for categories such as furniture, which still requires a touch-and-feel format for customers.
"The furniture category has traditionally had a strong presence offline, because customers like to see and touch the products they are buying," said Adarsh Menon, vice-president of furniture, electronics and private label at Flipkart. “The idea behind the FurniSure Experience Zone is to allow customers to explore Flipkart Furniture’s offerings in a new and innovative fashion," Menon added.
Flipkart is also working with Google as customers visiting the experience centre can also scan the catalogue through Google Lens. Flipkart Furniture plans to introduce two more experience centres in Bengaluru, while also looking to expand to other metros.
Furniture is one of the faster growing online categories, witnessing an upsurge in customer demand from across metros as well as tier- 2 and tier-3 towns, thus expanding the market size for online furniture in India to $17 billion in 2018.
This development also comes at a time when Swedish furniture retailer Ikea is looking to expand its presence in India.
Vertical e-commerce players in the furniture space such as Pepperfry, Urban Ladder and Livspace also have been focusing on offline over the last few years.
Earlier this year, Pepperfry said that it would infuse $12 million to set up over 100 offline stores as it drives immense customer engagement for the company. The firm currently has around 42 such stores.
Similarly, Urban Ladder, too, has been increasing its focus on offline expansion. During the last 1-1.5 years, Urban Ladder opened at least six large-format stores, with more to be launched in the pipeline.