The furniture industry – which digital approach is the right one?


Google & Co as a first step into digitalization?

At the 7th Digital Congress of imm 2020 in Cologne, we at GANDT took the opportunity to get to know market participants, Also to deepen the digital challenges of the furniture industry with interlocutors. It was interesting to learn how both B2C and B2B companies interpret their digital strategies or where challenges lie.

I was positive about the feedback I received on my plenary presentation. In this, I questioned how established offline players in new customer acquisition should rush directly to Google and costly logistics solutions. Does it no longer make sense for an established offline company with existing customers that have existed for decades to build data-driven processes that offer customers more transparency and flexibility? Or does it make sense to enter the fight for new customers against digital-first companies with a lot of effort and risk?

For me, as someone who grew up in a family business in the furniture industry, it’s a special event. For almost 30 years, I have been hearing about the challenges of furniture stores on Sundays during a family meeting. With my presentation, I had the chance to question digital strategies, visions and to open the eyes to the industry. An event I will remember and build on.


The market is becoming more digital

While the big ones take over the small players, associations fight for survival. More and more manufacturers and brands are trying to go new B2C ways and, basically, everyone is struggling with digitalization. But what does digitalization stand for in the furniture industry? How are customers being animated to buy using digital tools such as WhatsApp or iMessage? And what is the easiest and most sensible thing for the customer? What approach does the highest transparency in the sales process guarantee?

A walk through the exhibition halls reveals; in contrast to previous years, the user is increasingly in focus. Not as in earlier times, a few eye catchers are presented today. You don’t want to overwhelm the customer, but you want to convince.

What is growing is the number of new digital platforms and service providers. It is not surprising that companies such as or convince with a prominent stand at the fair and be rewarded with many conversations and high interest. Their smart software solutions and affiliate platforms offer value that the industry has so far lacked.


The imm Digital Congress – Learning from digitally driven companies

And then there are digital pioneers like eBay and Otto, who see themselves stronger and stronger as a full-service platform and offer dynamic services along the customer journey (want).

Platforms like ours will always exist, they will become even more established. Let’s look at Asia. There, the etailment market was partly skipped and platforms dominated. Oliver Klinck, Chief Commercial Office, eBay

According to Klinck, eBay offers the great advantage of range. The company is planned to develop in such a way that the platform offers buyers and vendors an even greater reach and makes the sales and purchase process more dynamic. The offer of even more customer-friendly payment service provider services, logistics service providers and the establishment of accommodation is expected to deliver further added value in the future.

At, on the other hand, the focus is on counteracting the complexity of the digital purchase process, according to André Müller, Director Home & Living, OTTO. The aim is to provide simpler solutions to alleviate decision-making problems in terms of product diversity and handling of (bulky) products. Müller is certain that solutions for small products will be used, and complex products such as kitchens will follow.

From my point of view, the absolutely right thinking. Transaction-based webshops are usually still responsive and dynamic ally to the general customer behavior. The customer journey to improve the next few years via multi-channel approaches is exactly the right way. It will be about making selling complex products easier, merging online and offline, and picking up customers even more specifically.

Dr. Kai Hudetz, moderator of the 7th Digital Congress, summarizes the learnings for the event


The imm Digital Congress – Learning from digitally driven companies

Müller and Klinck discussed these aspects at the digital congress of imm. In addition to you, I have mainly learned from young digitally driven companies. With, Vintage-Möbel24, Emma-The Sleep Company and Möbelfirst, digital players were represented, which showed how quickly young suppliers can establish themselves in the world market.

The magic behind it? Companies use your data wisely and scale your ventures according to them. While established players have mostly been in personal contact locally and with the same stock of existing customers for decades, the young wilden roll out their companies via agile teams and conquer markets and industry shares in a fast-track process.

Accordingly, I felt great about the marketing approach of the trade fair exhibitors to provide attraction with a centered product range. The customer is in focus with what convinces him. If corporate marketing teams were to take a look at this and we customers were to be satisated with fewer 16-page letterbox brochures, that would be the next step forward. Without questioning the pricing policy of companies as the next point…

Simply book a free appointment to continue the conversation, and ask us questions about your business.