“Our relentless innovation has helped us stay ahead of the curve”

Breaking the stereotype of traditional furniture marketplace and keeping up with the current times, Pepperfry was the first-ever homegrown omnichannel furniture e-commerce brand. Although a pioneer in its space, the brand was soon challenged by new entrants in the market. But, Pepperfry has been able to stay ahead of its competition, thanks to its innovative and on-its-toes supply chain. In this exclusive interaction, we take you on a behind-the-scenes visit with Piyush Agarwal, Head of Supply Chain, Pepperfry, and get to know about it all: Pepperfry’s seamless reverse logistics, its latest 24-hour furniture delivery service, the benefits of maintaining equilibrium between online and bricks-and-mortar, dealing with the festive rush, and curbing the challenge of product damage. Edited excerpts:

Q] A furniture supply chain such as Pepperfry’s with several touch points often has a tendency of product damage. This can lead to added costs. How has Pepperfry curbed this challenge? 

To ensure smooth supply chain functioning, Pepperfry has built its own Big Box logistics arm, Pepcart that provides first and last-mile logistics services to customers. Over the past decade, the company has fulfilled more than 10 million orders with a dedicated fleet of trucks. We have recorded less than 1% damage rates in delivery because of the use of efficient installation services.

Our bespoke delivery vehicles are padded from the inside to prevent scratching. Moreover, there are compartments, and belts within the vehicle to prevent damage in transit. Pepperfry has a well-trained team that ensures the products are packaged in a manner so as to avoid any damage during transit. Every order is tracked and monitored for undelivered, damaged, or misplaced items. Pepperfry also provides free assembly and installation support to customers through a team of more than 250 trained carpenters across major towns and cities.

Q] Selling and returns go hand in hand in today’s day and age. Give us a peak into how Pepperfry manages its reverse logistics seamlessly.

At Pepperfry, we understand that there is still value in the product even after the consumer has used it for a brief time. Since we manage and control our supply chain, we have enough leverage to seamlessly handle our reverse logistics. The first part is to reduce the quantum of reverse logistics that are driven by a well-defined mechanism of quality checks at every step and reduce damages in transit. Our Post ship returns are less than 5% which is best-in-class in the industry. Secondly, it is important to ensure that returns are done with proper packaging and tracking to ensure that they reach their source location in proper condition and do not result in the loss of product value.

Depending on product return disposition and condition with help of a proper inventory tracking mechanism, return QC process, and dedicated returns department; we are able to salvage most of the product cost.

In July this year, Pepperfry introduced 24 hours delivery in 3 major cities viz. Mumbai, Delhi NCR, and Bangalore. How did you optimise the supply chain network to ensure quick delivery of your products?

The launch of Pepperfry’s ‘world-first’ 24- hour furniture delivery service in Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, and Bangalore aims to bring cheer and delight to customers as they place orders by 9 pm and receive products by the next day. The entire planning and execution were a nine-month-long project.  We identified major markets where we intended to launch the 24-hour delivery at an optimal cost. Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), Bangalore & Delhi NCR came as the top 3 clusters, and we enabled storage at these locations as part of our plan. In May’22 we launched a 1.5 lakh sq. ft furniture storage facility in Gurgaon.

The next step was to design a dynamic process that identifies fast-selling SKUs and convert them to build a stock model that is stored in our warehouses and delivered to customers within 24 hours of order placement. We ran operational planning parallelly, and for the execution process, we made various shop-floor changes like changes in shift timings, realigning workforce, and practices, etc. to achieve our set goal.

This interview is the abridged version of the original which was published in the September edition of the Logistics Insider magazine. To read the complete interview, click here.

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