It’s two in the morning and the marketplace is abuzz with busy customers frantically browsing through the inventory. They feverously add home accents—mostly limited in numbers—before someone else grabs it. The drill gets repeated every day. We’re not talking about the Le Marché aux Puces Saint-Ouen de Clignancourt, the famous Parisian flea market, or London’s Camden Lock market. It’s the shops from our very own digital backyard. Swimming against the ‘mass-market’ tide, a new crop of online purveyors of furniture and home accessories are offering a customized, sometimes guided, retail experience to its customers that comprise yuppies (young upwardly-mobile professionals) and new-age homemakers. The result: a line-up of niche products that doesn’t burn a hole in the pocket. Their well-known counterparts aren’t burying their heads in the sand anymore. Address Home (www.addresshome.com) has gone digital even as home linen brand Sarita Handa has partnered with Thehouseofthings.com to test the waters. So, indulge in retail therapy as you sip a glass of wine in the comfort of your couch.
Astha Khetan, Founder & Creative Head
USP: Collectibles curated from across the globe
The founder calls it a trial, “a work in progress”. Since its soft launch in August last year, the portal has added rare merchandise curated from across the world including some “serendipitous finds”. So, you’ve fine porcelain by Dutch artist Maxim Ansiau, Raja Ravi Varma’s Portrait of an Artist, iconographer Paul Bhosle’s work, dinnerware by Nishita Thakurdas and Taherally’s antique collectibles. It also retails homegrown brands like Alex Davis and Sarita Handa. A team of seven takes care of the clockwork that include giving creative feedback to their sources. “Not all our vendors offer customisation, but we
curate one-of-a-kind pieces,” Khetan says. It takes them seven days to deliver pan-India.
Price Point: Rs 5,000-1 lakh
Deeksha Khera, Founder
USP: A specialised market for quirky cushions
The online portal draws its strength from its Gurgaon-based home décor brand Terracasa India. “The soul might be same but the body of work is distinct,” Khera says. The team did a prelim research, studying the industry landscape and competitor benchmark before launching the portal. “We realised that there’re numerous e-stores that list in abundance with little attention to relevance, often not aligned to the tastes of urban homes,” Khera says. The site, operational from December 2014, retails an exhaustive range of cushion covers—bold digitally printed, intricate sequined motifs, silks in elegant solids—with natural fabrics sourced from across India. It recently started retailing glassware from Ferozobad, brassware from Moradabad, and wooden décor from Rajasthan. It plans to go
international soon. Price Point: Rs 200-3,000
Sussanne Khan, Creative Director
USP: A range of high-end home décor products at affordable price; guided retail experience by Bollywood’s favourite interior designer, Sussanne Khan
Developed and manufactured in-house, the portal forecasts trends through its blog even as Khan gives out styling tips. In less than three years, the portal has created a happy customer following, especially the young and hip homemakers who love to throw house parties. Khan and her 30-member team design and curate products like porcelain tableware, silver dinnerware, quirky barware, serveware and drinkware, home linens and dainty décor pieces. Its limited edition collections are priced higher. The products aren’t over-the-top but it’s a unique lineup nevertheless. It delivers pan-India in three-four days and a worldwide in five-seven days.
Price Point: Rs 300-6,000
Shweta Mewara, Creative Director, & Saurabh Ailawadi, Managing Director
USP: Customised sofas and sectionals delivered at doorstep
The latest entrant in the niche online market (launched this February) has kept it simple. It crafts dream couches. But then turning dreams into reality is no mean feat that too a cutsomised one. Customers can choose size, fabric, even the fills, by looking at fabric swatches online. A visual of the sofa in desired shape and fabric appears on the cool interface before one takes the final decision. Synthetic fabrics are replaced with natural hydrophobic, oleo phobic (stain-repellant) and fire-retardant finish. Local sofa craftsmen from Rajasthan handcraft every piece. “It usually takes us four-six months—conceptualisation, crafting final prototypes—before it appears on our website,” Mewara says. The delivery time varies from 7-45 days. Price Point: Rs 3,900-70,000 (more for sectionals)