Transition of the Furniture Industry towards the Digital Era

It is profoundly evident that the furniture industry is undergoing a major transition due to the adaption of digitization and other technological advancements. In the race of digitization, the furniture industry has also been vigilant enough to integrate digital means and methods to sophisticate and improvise the customer experience.


The furniture industry has embraced new technologies to keep up with the customer expectations and ever changing trends and behaviours. With the inclusion of these new technologies into the industry, experts are predicting a heightened growth of revenue for the furniture industry in the next few years with a rate of over 5.4% until the year 2026.


According to a report by ISSUU, around 81% of customers research online before buying a product, 75% of customers rely on social media to make buying decisions and around 80% of the customer journey happens through online means without any direct relation between the seller and the buyer.  With these figures rising on a high magnitude, it is almost a question of survival for the furniture industry to keep up with these online trends.


At present, around 7% of the furniture industry’s total trend is accounted from online sales with a strong and potential upward trend. Experts are further expecting a much shorter time before the industry is completely taken over by the online and digital presence.


Furniture Manufacturers adopt Digital means


A recent IDC survey predicts that more than half of the small and medium sized businesses are aligned towards thinking that digital transformation will be the key to their survival in the next 3-5 years. Digitization has given rise to the prospective chance of a new industrial revolution called Industry 4.0, which ensures more flexibility as well as agility in the businesses through the advancements in technology.


For major industrial players, like Kimball, digitalization is not just a matter of preference but it is the only chance of survival. Kimball International has adopted a plethora of futuristic tools to enable digital retailing. These include data management and simulation, 3D rendering and many more. The company has also relied on simulation methods to portray appearance, performance, durability and the option to make changes as required.


Digital and Online Avenues Explored-


Mobile Phones


One of the major technological forefronts of this century is mobile phones. Every customer, especially Gen Z, rely mostly on mobile phones for shopping. The furniture industry has leveraged this by making use of various mobile applications to enable prospects view the furniture designs and models in the convenience of their homes. With IOT making it possible to sell products online, digital retailers are also investing heavily on various social media platforms and search engines to increase their chances of recommendations.


Augmented Reality


According to a survey by KMPG, around 85% of the retailers surveyed believed that AR has the potential to significantly improve organizational efficiencies. They further expect major advancements in several aspects including customer intelligence at 55%, chatbots at 45% and self checkout at 54%. With these predictions in AR, the furniture industry hasn’t left any stone unturned.


One of the first explorers of AR in the furniture industry is IKEA. It has launched an application called “IKEA Place” which not only lets the user augment the furniture in their real life surroundings, but also lets the user share pictures across social media platforms and purchase the product with just one click. Moreover, IKEA ensures an accuracy of 98% in the precision levels of the furniture.


Virtual Showrooms


To allow maximum similarity to the real life shopping experience, various digital retailers and furniture sellers are also exploring real life sized virtual showrooms. Virtual appliances have witnessed a spellbound increase in their sales since the last few years. According to a report by Grand View Research, the CAGR of virtual market is expected to be around 21%.


Amazon has also taken a step towards this direction, launching a new showroom feature, enabling the customers to match their choices for home décor and furniture online with a multitude of virtual rooms also providing the possibility of customization of colours, walls, etc. It also provides users the opportunity of complete customization of the room, right form the scratch by letting them choose all the aspects and then adding the furniture like sofa, chair, etc.


Along with Amazon, several other furniture retailers also launched virtual showrooms and have seen a multifold rise in their reach to the masses.


In-store VR Shopping

While most retailers are exploring digital means, few furniture traders are also improvising on the physical stores by incorporating virtual methods of interaction. Statistically, around 51% of the customers prefer visiting a store equipped with the latest and virtual technologies compared to a basic conventional store.


According to a research report by the store Macy’s, VR influenced furniture sales have risen by around 59% when compared to the conventional furniture sales. This research was done after Macy’s has incorporated the pilot VR technology into three of its stores. Further, one of the Indian furniture giants Featherlite, has provided a 360 degree walkthrough of its store, displaying 3D models of sofas, chairs etc. that displayed along with the features of the products. Through this method of interaction, the stores can also reap the opportunity to display alternate or relatable products and recommendations thereby increasing the chances of a sale.


Click & Collect gains Importance


In the year 2018, there was around 55% rise (37 billion) in the number of buyers who practiced BOPIS according to a research by eMarketer. Experts however predicted that the numbers will rise to 130 million in the year 2021 which suggests an approximate 7% rise. As a result, many major sellers like IKEA, Momax, Butlers etc. are also providing the supplementary option of click & buy to enhance their sale opportunities to the fast track customers.


With advanced technologies available from the manufacture to the point of sale, furniture retailers are gradually integrating these benefits to engulf a prospective chunk of the market to ensure fruitful gains and a means of survival in a world paced by technology. 

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