Trends in the online furniture market – A sector in transition

The design of the personal living space is extremely important to German people. Many consumers have even evolved into outright “furnishing freaks”. Six out of ten consumers enjoy giving their homes a new look by regularly buying home accessories. And for as many as 43 percent, furnishing has now even become a hobby. Read in today’s article which trends will be developing in the “Home & Living” growth sector in the future, and what you, the online retailer, should really be aware of.

Home & Living: A growth sector in eCommerce

Online shopping for furniture and home accessories has now become a trend, as confirmed by a study from the auditing firm KPMG. The furniture market is booming and consumers are buying furnishings more and more frequently in eCommerce – and this is set to continue so in the future. Larger items of furniture, such as beds or sofas, for example, are bought by 36 percent of consumers from stationary retail – but the same applies to the purchase of such items from online shops (33 percent). Stationary shopping is currently even more popular for smaller items of furniture, like chests of drawers or side tables, but also for home accessories. This is very easy to explain, since consumers prefer to have bulky items of furniture delivered to their homes, instead of having to collect and transport them themselves. Small pieces of furniture and home accessories, however, can be transported home very easily and the consumer need not wait days or weeks for those goods to be delivered.

“Home & Living” is one of the growth sectors in eCommerce. The success of this segment is also reflected in the sales development of the German online furniture sector. More and more consumers are buying their furniture and home accessories online and a study by PwC predicts that eCommerce revenues in this sector will rise continuously over the coming years.

The online furniture market: What do consumers value?

KPMG has delved deeply into this sector and asked consumers, among other things, about their thoughts on concept design. It turned out that 8 out of 10 consumers prefer an online shop with a showroom. Additionally, almost 60 percent of consumers say that they are more likely to shop at a furniture retailer who also has an online shop.

Furniture retailers need to think across all channels and combine the advantages of both worlds – online and stationary – so as to create added value for the consumer”, says Arne Stock, the CEO at Einrichten & Wohnen AG.

Innovations & individualisation in the online furniture market: Adapting to the demanding consumers of tomorrow

In an industry that never sleeps, but instead actively follows trends, retailers and manufacturers should never lose touch. Digitisation and the Internet are also making increasing inroads into the furniture and home accessories sector. As a result, the demands of customers when buying furniture have also changed enormously. Product images and information alone are no longer enough for consumers. Instead, they are demanding a real shopping experience – even from the comfort of their own homes.

For retailers and manufacturers, this means thinking across channels and adapting to current trends and consumer expectations. Only those who can satisfy those basic requirements and also convince through exciting features will in future exist in the burgeoning sector of “Home and Living”.

#Trend 1: Virtual or augmented reality

We all know how we stand in a furniture store and wonder what that piece of furniture would look like within our own four walls – and does it even fit in that corner at all? And how does the colour match to the rest of the interior? These questions can now be answered very easily. To make the customer’s choice of furniture easier, some suppliers are already relying on virtual or augmented reality. Besides the Swedish furniture chain IKEA, Pair is also offering an app with which consumers can easily project pieces of furniture into their own homes. The customer points their smartphone or tablet around their home environment and then inserts virtual objects, such as chairs, tables or shelves.

Technologies like virtual and augmented reality are becoming increasingly more attractive. By offering virtual applications, consumers now have the opportunity to design their own living space in no time at all. Online retailers should be jumping on this bandwagon and securing their success in eCommerce by using new and innovative marketing opportunities.

#Trend 2: Furniture and decoration by 3D printing

3D printing is not a novelty. Quite the contrary, in fact. Being one of the most interesting technological developments, 3D printing is offered by many service providers on the Internet, but printers for home use have also long been available.

According to a study by the auditing firm PwC, consumers have a positive forward attitude towards 3D printing. Although only 18 percent have already produced a 3D impression themselves, 8 out of 10 people see an advantage of 3D printing primarily in the individuality of the objects created. Some 92 percent even assume that 3D printing will prevail in the industry through 2022.

Industry leader IKEA recently announced that it would be manufacturing an adjustable chair with components created by a 3D printer. Other furniture manufacturers are already using this technology to create lamps, vases and other decorative items.

The lengthy and time-consuming process of 3D printing has so far held the boom of this technology in check. But now a research team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in collaboration with the office equipment manufacturer Steelcase, has developed a new printing process capable of producing 3D-printed products up to ten times faster. Instead of taking hours, the so-called “Rapid Liquid Printing” only takes minutes to create its structures.

It will only become clear in the future whether the production of furniture and decorative items from 3D printers will prove to be more than just a trend. Retailers and manufacturers in the industry should not be afraid of 3D printing technology, but instead see it as an opportunity and now benefit from its current boom.

#Trend 3: Individualisation of home interiors

The demands of customers are becoming ever more individual. Not only satisfying them, but also to inspire, is becoming ever more the supreme discipline, which presents many retailers and manufacturers with a major challenge.

KPMG shows that individual design of the personal living space is becoming increasingly important, since 4 out of 10 consumers now want to buy products that nobody else has. Consumers pay particular attention to the first-class design and quality of products. This is why furniture that can be individually fashioned or modularly assembled is becoming increasingly popular.

Each piece becomes unique with its own individual touch. For furniture manufacturers, this sounds like an elaborate and expensive undertaking that many of them simply cannot afford. But this individualisation does not have to be costly at all. Technologies such as 3D printing allow furniture and home accessories to be produced individually at a lower cost.

#Trend 4: Sustainability and environmental friendliness

With an increasing environmental awareness of consumers, more emphasis is being placed on sustainable and fair products. This trend towards sustainability permeates many levels of everyday life and is also reflected in furniture purchases. The majority of consumers (73 percent) attach an importance to sustainability when buying furniture.

In terms of sustainability, as well as energy-efficient living, consumers pay particular attention to ecologically and socially acceptable production methods for furniture, and also to the use of natural and environmentally friendly materials. Many “green-minded” consumers are even relying on alternative production methods such as upcycling or recycling. The firm Bauholz Design, for example, uses timber from old scaffolding to produce individual pieces of furniture – with a portfolio ranging from shelves and tables to benches and sofas, all made of wood.

Successful positioning in eCommerce

For online retailers to be successfully positioned in eCommerce, they need to constantly keep an eye on market developments and trends. Give your external appearance a fresh look and adapt current trends into your business also, in order to win over customers for your online shop.

In this growing industry and ever expanding variety of suppliers, brands and makers, consumers are comparing prices and features more than ever before. It is therefore not enough to simply follow new trends for a long-term success in eCommerce. Instead, in parallel to the above adjustments, you should never lose sight of your competition in terms of prices and product line design. In the furniture segment, you can only remain competitive with well thought-out price and product range adjustments. Our innovative blackbee technology supports manufacturers and retailers in the “Home & Living” sector by collecting, analysing and structuring current market data from the Internet. On the basis of this highly valid data, you are able to react quickly to price and product range developments. With a perfect overview of your market, you will then remain always one step ahead of your competitors.

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