Furniture companies, from Pepperfry and Godrej Interio to Transteel and Featherlite, are witnessing unprecedented demand for study tables and chairs as companies continue to encourage their employees to work from home because of the pandemic.
For online company Pepperfry, study tables and chairs currently account for 35-40% of its business. “Before the lockdown, the category contributed only 10% to our overall business,” Kashyap Vadapalli, CMO at Pepperfry, told TOI. “Total sales, however, are 75% of what they used to be.”
Office furniture company Featherlite, which catered predominantly – up to 80% – to the business-to-business (B2B) space before Covid-19, is currently witnessing orders from individual customers take up half of the demand pie. “The volume of orders is currently at 200 per city per day from the top eight metros and Tier I cities for office chairs, followed by laptop tables,” said Dheeraj Gowda, senior marketing manager, Featherlite. “Initially, we used to get bulk orders from corporates and sparse business from customers.”
Similarly, Chennai-based Transteel went business-to-consumer (B2C) during the lockdown and saw mushrooming demand from people stuck at home. Co-founder Shiraz Ibrahim said the company’s current order volumes have gone up to 2,400 a week – predominantly from end consumers, from just 80 orders a week before the lockdown. “Ergonomic chairs priced from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 (with the latter category being purchased by employees of Google and Facebook) are the most in demand. Luckily, since we cater to bulk orders from corporates, our inventory levels seem to be enough,” he said.
Furniture companies said a part of the demand is being fuelled by employees setting up home offices sponsored by companies, including Google, Salesforce and Freshworks, where allowances ranging between $250 and $1000 are being doled out.
Furniture brands – Wooden Street and Godrej Interio – have seen demand pick up from the middle of May, when professionals began to realise that work-from-home is here to stay and their current home environment is not conducive for long work hours.
“Research done by Godrej Interio showed that people were working from their sofa, dining table and bed. We saw 140% spike in searches for chairs. The second item in demand was a worktable,” said Sameer Joshi, associate VP – marketing (B2B), at Godrej Interio.
Flipkart, too, witnessed a 3X increase in demand for study tables, office chairs and laptop tables over the last few weeks. “There is a good growth in demand for gaming chairs as well because people are looking for new entertainment options, while spending an increased time at home,” a Flipkart spokesperson said.