Last week online furniture and home décor store Pepperfry.com raised fresh funds worth US$ 8 million from Norwest Venture Partners (NVP). The funds raised will be used to strengthen Pepperfry’s leadership position in the furniture, home and living segment. Pepperfry.com is looking to widen its merchant reach, expand fulfillment operations and invest in improving its brand presence across media. But this change of strategy comes after a lot of research and behind-the-scene number crunching.
When they started in September 2011 their focus was clearly the lifestyle space. So that presented an opportunity to sell shoes, apparel, furniture, home décor, jewellery, healthcare products and so on. But some purchase behavior analysis of customers buying from the site, made Pepperfry realize that a bulk of the purchase was happening in the furniture and home decor space and only 20% purchases were coming from others. Further deep diving showed them, that customers buying these products were people in the early stages of their household life, who were comfortable buying online, didn’t like what that was available offline and so on. “When we looked at the size of the furniture & home category, it is a $24 billion market. Therefore we decided to sharpen our focus and bring in more variety of items under a category that was anyways working for us,” says Ambareesh Murty, founder and CEO of Pepperfry.com of the change in strategy.
Pepperfry.com today has over 4000 pieces of furniture they sell through the site in partnership with over 1000 merchants. However the site does not keep any stock, but works with merchants who can even fulfill small orders from their customers. The site also sells office-related items, white goods like toasters and products in laundry and housekeeping. Going forward they have plans to offer services of carpentry, plumbing, electrician, etc – in line with their vision to be the one-stop shop for anything related to a home.
The startup has fulfillment centers across the country they rely to fulfill customer orders. Currently their centers are located in Mumbai, Delhi and Jodhpur and by the end of this year their centers in Bengaluru, Kolkata and Madurai will be functional.
The fresh funds will also be used to improve the marketing and advertising presence of Pepperfry. Ambareesh understands the cut-throat world of eCommerce and wants to ensure they have enough mindshare among customers to stand out in the clutter.
The startup has a team of 150 employees based across different offices in the country. Ambareesh says they have been lucky to get the right kind of people: “we are not the best pay masters and there is a lot of work we do, but all I can say is we’ve been lucky.” Ambareesh thanks his stars and attributes this good luck to some divine intervention from up above. Even the senior management at Pepperfry are a diverse mix. Their CTO has come from Zapak and the product head is an ex-Alibaba employee. Kashyap Vadapalli who recently joined the portal as the chief marketing officer, comes from eBay and had earlier worked with Google and Tata Interactive Systems.
The portal has also redone its logo to make the connect to home and heart more obvious.