Companies

Work from home opens new doors for furniture rental start-ups

Annapurani V Chennai | Updated on June 11, 2020 Published on June 11, 2020

The more things change, the more they are expected to stay the same. As employees get accustomed to working from home, they have also been missing their swivel desk chairs and workstations at office. However, the uncertainty about their jobs and the cities they are going to be living in, the fear of pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs have made them closefisted. People are now being more careful about making new purchases. Enter furniture rental platforms that are increasingly gaining popularity as a more convenient, cheaper alternative.

Ajith Mohan Karimpana, founder, Furlenco, said just before the lockdown they saw a 300 per cent surge for work from home products on their platform and that he expects this demand to only grow further. Furlenco has furnished over 1,20,000 houses in the past five years.

When people are not working from home, they probably make do with just a little bit of furniture, said Karimpana. They think they are anyway going to be spending 10 hours in the office and don’t need anything grand because they would come home just to sleep. But now that they are spending 24 hours at home, they are missing the extra coffee table or the nice recliner that they want, while they watch Netflix, he explained.

The new normal

According to a recent Ernst and Young report, 77 per cent of Indians consider flexible working to be the new normal and nearly 82 per cent businesses are using flexible workspace policies to attract and retain top talent. With the spread of the virus continuing unabated, work from home will pick up momentum and people will be keen to have a comfortable working atmosphere at home.

“On the international front, big companies are even giving incentives/allowances to their employees to rent laptops, appliances, and furniture necessary for a productive, office-like atmosphere at home,” said Sidhant Lamba, founder, Fabrento, adding that they are currently in talks with a few companies for whom they will be manufacturing a range of work from home furniture to rent out to their employees. The platform recently added a ‘Work From Home’ section on its website, which has been garnering increased attention, Lamba said.

Furniture rental firms typically rent out and deliver furniture – everything from study tables to bookshelves to sofa sets and beds - for a price (based on the item selected and the tenure). They also help relocate the furniture from one city to another. Data from Tracxn, a firm that tracks investments and financials of private companies and start-ups, showed that there are 75 online furniture rental start-ups in the country presently.

These platforms are typically subscription-based, which means during the lockdown, they still had their business going, thanks to their existing customers.

Neerav Jain, founder, CityFurnish, said that from March end to May 18, they were not able to do any delivery. Though there were no new orders during that period, a steady flow of revenue was coming in through the subscribers they already had, he added.

Increased awareness

Jain said that because of the uncertainty the environment has brought in post-Covid, and the added cash crunch, the use of resources has become more judicial, which will make subscription to rental services stronger, both in terms of awareness and adaption. CityFurnish has been seeing a 25 per cent increase in orders on a daily basis compared to the pre-Covid period (February) over the past fortnight, he noted.

According to a TechSci Research report, the furniture rental market in India was valued at around $800 million in 2018. With consumers becoming increasingly conscious about their investments and expenditure, furniture rental, which is considered to be more affordable and asset-light, is only set to grow more popular.

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Published on June 11, 2020
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