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Saraf Furniture: Building a robust portfolio and market approach to capture a broader share of customer base

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In the past years, the rising preference of D2C (direct to consumer) brands in the ecosystem has pushed ahead the Indian D2C landscape. As per the statistics, 800 major brands have already entered the space and many more brands are expected to join this league. 

Categories like Home Furniture have emerged within the D2C space and a surge in customer demand has been witnessed, owing to the rising demand for office and ergonomic furniture in homes courtesy the work from home situation. According to a report, the online furniture segment has seen a CAGR of 85% between 2017 and 2020.

But, this developing sector is developing major challenges in logistics management, warehousing, quality control etc. The category is facing major challenges in providing a seamless-delivery experience, post-purchase experience to its customers, as furniture items are big in nature and become tough to fit in the D2C world. 

To know more about this, we spoke to Raghunandan Saraf, Founder & CEO, Saraf Furniture. 

Saraf Furniture: Building a robust portfolio and market approach to capture a broader share of customer base

Saraf Furniture founded in 2014  is a D2C brand specializing in solid wood furniture and now also foraying in the categories like home furniture.

‘Logistics’ poses a big challenge 

With the D2C selling model gaining popularity, there are a number of challenges that are creating supply chain complexities, which can disrupt the D2C buying experience. Raghunandan Saraf when asked about the challenges faced by the brand, mentioned “For International logistics, it was fairly organized before because it was purely B2B as they all had to do was to send in the containers to the port, so it was fairly organized.  But for the National D2C world, it was not organized at all, we had to find out the courier partners who would be able to handle the high weight cargo. And that’s when we started coordinating with them.”

He also added some challenges the brand faced initially, “But initially it was a big challenge to meet the customer is the cost to make the products and then make them reach customers’ home and that’s where we started coordinating with the quality departments back then in terms of educating them as to how to get this done and the company is also investing a lot in our packaging so that there are no damages at all.”

Customers’ behavior shift

The online purchase has been increased in the pandemic due to the curbs imposed by the government to shut down brick and mortar stores. Saraf added how they managed to stay prepared and ready, keeping with the changing customer behaviour, “Post pandemic the customers are expecting deliveries much faster than in the pre pandemic. So, in the pre-pandemic, customers were willing to wait for about 3-4 weeks for a piece of furniture but post pandemic, the expected wait time has come down drastically. And that is not just for the furniture but for the entire ecommerce industry.”

He also added, when a customer orders online, there is one major difference that the shipping time has to be reduced, and that where the supply chain comes to keep larger stocks at the various locations to make the delivery on time.

Product Innovation   

In the D2C ecosystem, innovation plays a major role and helps create a hook for the brand to attract customers. With the sector growing, technology is also growing rapidly to give real-time data to the brands. Saraf, when asked about the new innovations that the company is adopting said “About the innovation we have understood that we need to innovate our products in a way that when we come out with a product it has to have a combination of utility and price, this was a scenario about 2-3 years back.” 

He added, “But nowadays it’s changed a bit about a new production, the product has to have a utility price with design elements as well. So all our innovations are made in such a way that customers find a fair combination of all these things in the product and also we are trying to give customers more and more experience of the furniture by telling them how to use it and how long it would last.”

“We are trying to include more and more decor products in our portfolio.And we are opening more offline stores, and doing a lot of VR activity as well. With that, the customers can see our product virtually and know how it would fit in the environment ”, Saraf added.

Grabbing the Tier-II and III market 

After focusing on the metropolitan cities, brands are leveraging other locations as well  to expand their customer base. Tier-II and III cities are turning out to be an untapped market for brands. Saraf, when asked about their strategies to cater in that market added, “So in the city where we don’t have physical stores, we have customer advocates where they allow the people from their city to visit their home to have a look at the furniture and that has made us survive. At the end of the day people are buying at a lower price, a good design but at the end of the day they are buying a product to use in their home. So when you stay in the home, furniture comes next to the family which stays forever. So we are going to stay true to the products that we do.” 

Saraf also added some strategies that their brand is opting for to cut the competition in the days to come:

  •  We’re going to give solid variety and always be with a lifetime warranty.
  •  We’re trying to build a home decor store, not everything with home decor but with everything that goes with our product as well.
  • We’re foraying in other categories that can complement our existing product