There is still a lot of catching up to do in e-commerce – eCommerce Magazin


As a current survey by bevh shows, the “furniture and furnishings” segment was one of the fastest growing product groups in 2020 with total sales of over 5.4 billion euros. This upward trend is expected to continue in the furniture trade in the coming years with an annual increase in sales of 15 percent. Nevertheless, Germany’s furniture retailers and manufacturers prefer to remain stuck in the past and continue to invest in space instead of digital skills.

In the run-up to the MOW furniture fair, which opens its doors on September 19, the e-commerce agency Shopmacher examined the status of digitization in the furniture trade. In May and June 2021, around 30 managers from companies in the German furniture industry were questioned in expert interviews on the status quo of digitization in their companies.

Furniture trade: Suppliers give themselves the grade “satisfactory” in the digital strategy

The result still shows room for improvement: If German furniture retailers and manufacturers had to evaluate their own digitization strategy, they would give themselves a grade of 3.1. Above all, the participants who are not yet very active on the web and who do not operate their own online shop push the average grade down. Anyone who has a webshop gives it an average grade of 2.3.

Almost 40 percent of those surveyed stated that their greatest achievement in the field of digitization was the use of digital solutions in the field of virtual reality and 360-degree visualization. On the other hand, omnichannel services, which according to bevh will particularly stimulate growth in the online furniture industry in the coming years, can still be expanded. Only nine percent of the retailers surveyed offer their customers the opportunity to reserve or buy goods online. Customers can only call up online availability at 13 percent of retailers, and only 17 percent of shops offer a furniture configurator.

Almost half of the respondents named the “quality of the product data” as the greatest challenge in the field of digitization. For 22 percent, the challenge lies in the “general backwardness of the furniture industry”. The lack of availability of IT resources, the development of online marketing know-how and the digitization of the range were also named as hurdles.

Furniture trade shopmaker
Challenges in the furniture industry in terms of digitization. (Image: Shopmacher)

More than half of the furniture makers without those responsible for e-commerce

The responsibilities for the online shop lie in different departments depending on the company. For 17 percent of those surveyed, it is marketing and for four percent it is IT. 13 percent are responsible for e-commerce with IT & Marketing. When asked who is specifically responsible for e-commerce in the company, 57 percent of the companies cannot give any names at all.

The online furniture trade has great potential when it comes to KPI analysis. It is true that 70 percent of the shops use a tracking solution. But 57 percent of the survey participants do not look at a single indicator to assess the success or failure of their online shops. Those who consult key figures primarily pay attention to the traffic (22 percent), the conversion (17 percent) or the cost-revenue ratio KUR (22 percent).

Furniture trade shopmaker
The status quo in furniture e-commerce does not convince the furniture makers themselves either. (Image: Shopmacher)

As before, a stationary strategy in the furniture trade

The question of their main competitors underlines once again the predominantly stationary strategy of companies in the furniture trade. 61 percent of the retailers and manufacturers surveyed named companies that tend to be more analogue and nationally positioned. Only 17 percent of companies sense danger from digitally operating competitors who are internationally active. As a role model in the digital sector, Otto (48 percent) leads by a long way ahead of Amazon (26 percent), Home24 and Wayfair (22 percent each), Westwing (17 percent) and Bolia (13 percent).