“The nuance to furniture is handling,” says Ashish Shah, founder and COO of Mumbai-based furniture marketplace Pepperfry and former eBay executive. I, along with a handful of journalists were given a tour of Pepperfry’s largest fulfilment centre (FC) located in Bhiwandi, some 30 odd kilometres from Mumbai last week. Ashish claims that this is the largest furniture warehouse in the country – one that can park three airbuses inside! “We are now the largest seller of furniture in the country. It’s natural we should have the largest furniture warehouse as well,” he chuckles.
As I meander through the 2,85,000 sq ft of place, stacked with seven floors of furniture close to 70 feet high, I am left in little doubt.
Ashish further tells us that while the Mumbai centre takes care of furniture business, a similar one in Gurugram takes care of décor and utility products. Then there is another sourcing centre in Jodhpur, where the bulk of Rajasthan’s solid wood furniture is sourced. Besides these fulfilment centres which also act as distribution centres, the firm has 14 more distribution centres in cities like Bengaluru, Kochi, Chandigarh, Chennai, Jaipur, Bhopal and the likes. As these are distribution centres which act as mere pass-throughs and don’t carry inventory locally, they are typically around 3,000 sq feet in size.
So from fulfilment centres like the Mumbai one, products go every day to the distribution centre, following a hub and spoke model. Hence the strategic location and size of the centre. Interestingly, though Pepperfry is a marketplace, it does not rely on sellers to send products to its centres.
“In this model, we actually go and pick products. So, even the first mile pickups are done by Pepperfry. This was done to gain more control and leverage on economies of scale. Today, every piece of item is picked up by us, hence we have full visibility on the order. This is why these FCs are strategically located, with most of the sellers are within 200 kms of the FC,” reveals Ashish.