Pepperfry has enhanced consumer experience manifold by building curated home furniture and décor marketplace, ensuring highest levels of quality control and providing a robust post-transaction experience through last-mile delivery and installation services. Satish Chandra Mishra, AVP and Head- Supply Chain, Pepperfry informs Upamanyu Borah about the company’s market leading position, which is a combination of innovation and rapid expansion of its logistics infrastructure, packaging, fulfilment and transportation capabilities to meet the growing business demands.
Outset of operations
Over a period of seven and a half years, Pepperfry has established itself as a leader in the online home and furniture segment by building special competencies to serve the Indian market and bridge existing gaps in the segment.
In 2014, Pepperfry pioneered the omnichannel model by launching its first experiential studio in Mumbai. Today, the company operates 65 such studios across 24 cities in India, which are built on the solid bedrock of an unparalleled supply chain infrastructure. These studios allow Pepperfry to interact with consumers through multiple touch points.
Leveraging the understanding of Indian consumers in the segment, Pepperfry introduced ten dynamic house brands, each of which can be distinguished on the basis of their design philosophy and price points, therefore democratising the furniture market. To elevate customer experience further, and cement its position in the market, the company built its own logistics network becoming the first-of-its-kinds in the online furniture segment.
Overcoming barriers to distribution
Initially, a robust logistics framework continued to be a challenge for Pepperfry. The company relied on third party vendors to ship its products, as the logistics infrastructure in India for large item delivery was significantly under-developed and shipping bulky items such as furniture was either prohibitively expensive or took too long. The company also faced challenges like lack of earnestness on the part of vendors to go beyond stipulated practices to deliver to the doorstep of consumers.
Pepperfry therefore constructed a proprietary hub and spoke large item distribution model that significantly reduced per unit shipping costs, increased scale and operating efficiencies and achieved unprecedented service levels at negligible damage rates.
Pepperfry has introduced various innovative techniques like blanket deliveries that are environment friendly and ensures zero damages as these blankets can be re-used saving carbon footprints. Besides, specialised product handling techniques such as staircase trolleys for delivery of products to highrise apartment, shoulder dollies to lift products easily and tool boxes to enable open packaging, are practiced.
Pepperfry has replaced wooden crates with honeycomb boxes and corrugated boxes with higher specifications, which have helped to reduce delivery timelines, save cost and improve customer experience. In addition, Pepperfry has introduced angle board framing, styrene fitments for fragile glassware, and pizza box packs for furnishings.
The company has also deployed a proprietary tool to track, update and execute deliveries alongside a customised warehouse management system (WMS) at fulfilment centers to handle multi-box parent child complexity. Vehicle tracking and maintenance tool for in-house vehicles and the last-mile mobile application for real time delivery updates are other technological features in use in operations.
To stay healthy, every aspect of a business needs feedback loops. Pepperfry’s feedback loop data monitoring and processing systems gets triggered basis certain conditions and raises appropriate alerts, enabling the company to take pre-emptive measures to ensure seamless services.
So far, Pepperfry has collaborated with over 10,000 suppliers, 3,000 artisans, and 3,000 suppliers across sourcing hubs. Pepperfry’s supply chain team works closely with merchants on the movement of the products from the warehouse to the customer’s doorstep. Today, leading brands across the furniture and home industry sell their products on Pepperfry. The seller support team warrants onboarding suppliers to ensure they understand the quality standards and protocols set up by Pepperfry.
To celebrate the burgeoning partnership, Pepperfry felicitates its suppliers at the Annual Merchant Conference. The conference forms a key part of Pepperfry’s endeavour to recognise the efforts of suppliers who have been imperative in helping the company build a differentiated catalogue of more than 1,00,000 products.
With above, the company works with the best logistics partners in the industry and has built a robust Key Performance Indicator (KPI) driven incentive program for them through which there is provision for structured periodic reviews.
For customers, Pepperfry provides assembly and installation support through a team of more than 250+ carpenters across major towns and cities.
Logistics and SCM
Pepperfry is the first online furniture marketplace to build its own logistics network – Pepcart, which has helped in not only rationalising time and costs but also overcome sectoral challenges that existed erstwhile.
For efficient management of its vast network and product portfolio, the company has built a proprietary large item distribution logistics model. Pepperfry commenced the origin to hub shipment process through contracted trucking arrangements in April 2013, and since then the company has significantly reduced per unit costs with increasing scale and operating efficiencies.
Pepperfry has assigned service officers within Pepperfry’s delivery team who look after special requirements like scheduling of delivery basis customer request, change of address, route planning basis heat map with zoning logic, carpenter scheduling along with delivery, timely delivery status updates through SMS and ensuring loading of products using vehicle partition to improve vehicle utilisation and reduce damages in transit. The executives are liable to draft/login a planning sheet and incorporate the same in the route planning algorithm.
Today, Pepperfry runs India’s largest big-box supply chain in the country. The company’s specialised large item delivery fleet of more than 350 vehicles operating from 19 hubs across the country serves customers in 500+ cities.
Pepperfry’s customers are always wellinformed about their order; this is done at various stages of the customer interaction cycle. The process starts from cataloguing and continues into sharing expected delivery timelines, post-purchase tracking of product location through unique tracking URL and regular Email and SMS communication from the delivery team for assembly. In case of a cancelled order or a delayed delivery, information is promptly shared through Email or SMS. If an unresolved complaint is raised (through various channels), the customer service team contacts the customer within the defined timelines and ensures closure within servicelevel agreement (SLA).
Pepperfry’s focus is on non-repeatability, which is accomplished by undertaking thorough follow-ups with the concerned customer until any pertaining issue has been resolved. Additionally, Pepperfry has a ‘track your order feature’ where every customer can track the product in the delivery cycle and is well-informed about the expected date of delivery. It also incorporates real-time calculation of delivery timelines that has a 98 per cent hit-rate of the promised timeline.
Success rate formula
The big-box logistics model has benefitted the company significantly across verticals. The key factors that have resulted in a seamless customer service are significant reduction in timelines, minimum cancellations due to damages in transit, reduction in shipping costs and lower attrition of logistics staff. Other key differentiators such as 100 per cent open delivery, blanket deliveries, auto scheduling of deliveries among others have been highly appreciated by customers.
Pepperfry has successfully implemented ‘WE CARE’ program across blue-collar employees where each letter has a meaning associated with customer ethos in mind and stands for World-Class Service- Consistent, Accurate, Responsive and Empathetic.
Pepperfry tracks NPS as a key indicator to customer satisfaction. The NPS for the organisation stands at 65+ for over last three years. Social media is another yardstick where Pepperfry is in the top percentile in E-commerce with highest social media applauds and cleans Facebook and Twitter walls. Pepperfry takes pride in having the highest repeat order customers of 50 per cent in the industry.
Certifications and Standards
Pepperfry recently received the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) certification for its 285,000 sq ft Mumbai fulfilment centre. This makes Pepperfry’s warehouse the first in India to be ISO certified with three critical certifications and the only one in the furniture and home segment in the country to attain this accreditation.
The company’s warehouse in Padgha of Bhiwandi spanning across 285,000 sq ft and one of India’s largest furniture warehouses built with stateof-the-art automation and material handling capabilities including G+7 racking systems, battery operated trucks and multi-storey fetching reach trucks, received certification for ISO 9001:2015 (QMS- Quality Management System), ISO 14001:2015 (EMS- Environment Management System) and ISO 45001:2015 (OHSAS- Occupation Health Safety and Assessment Series). The ISO 9001:2015 certifies the high emphasis on quality and operating efficiency of Pepperfry fulfilment centres.