In the future, the furniture industry will be: different. OTTO, Germany’s leading online furniture dealer, announced expanding its Next Day Delivery Service – that is, delivery on the next business day – to furniture as of 2020. For this purpose, a tremendous warehouse will soon be built in the metropolitan area of Nuremberg. Click on “order” today and watch football on your new couch as early as tomorrow - and no more six to eight week waiting period anymore.
Why does purchasing furniture normally always take so long?
“In order to understand why many customers still have to wait so long for their furniture, we need to take a look behind the scenes”, says Marieke Hartung, who is in charge of logistics projects at OTTO. “After all, delivering a sofa is a completely different story than delivering a pair of shoes or jeans.” After clicking “buy now”, the time of eager awaiting begins for the customer; for the logistics systems and shipping providers a race against time.
“The cut-off is the afternoon”, says Marieke. All orders received by 3:00 pm for example are processed by the employees in the warehouses; the merchandise is picked up from the corridors and shelves in the (high-rise) racks and transported across vast storage areas to the transfer points using forklifts. There, the shipping providers take it over. At OTTO, its the Hermes Einrichtungs Service, HES. The dream couch has a bar code, which, among other things, symbolizes in which direction this beautiful piece is to be transported out of the warehouse: In the night, the truck rolls out with the couch heading towards the interim storage facility, also referred to as depot. From there, the employees load it onto the delivery truck the next day and transport it to the customer.
Sounds quick, logical and straightforward. “But it isn’t. And that is why, this overnight delivery will never be feasible for all furniture, which is purchased online”, Marieke explains.
Individuality requires time
This is also confirmed by André Müller, Director of Home & Living at OTTO. Because: The more individual your own taste is, the longer it takes until your desired piece of furniture – from a couch to dining room chairs or a wall unit – is actually set up in your own home.
André explains: “This is because this piece of furniture usually doesn’t even exist yet at the time of order placement”. Industry jargon refers to this as “built-to-order” and today, it applies to most furniture. For instance, this means that the standard black two-seater, which you convert into a blue upholstered three-seater using the configurator, first has to be made if the customer orders it. Only then is it loaded, transported and set up. That takes time. “Most of the furniture purchased online today is not lying around in any warehouse”, says André. “Furniture needs space. And space costs money.”
Then why is OTTO building its own warehouse on a Franconian meadow? To send furniture on its way throughout Germany? “The tricky part is knowing what the customer wants” the Director of furniture explains. That means: Data forecasts can be used to foresee how many customer will purchase what when. Accordingly, a dealer can be prepared and store more mainstream merchandise. “This is furniture, which caters to a wide range of tastes and which we know, will quickly find its customers.”
In a nutshell: Those who share their taste in furniture with many others, have a good chance of getting their desired piece of furniture quicker than all of those with special wishes.
“Online furniture trade will be even more fun in the future”
Even if the foreseeable future does not include the sofa you configured yourself being in your living room the next day, purchasing furniture online will “be even more fun” in the future!”- André is sure of that. Among other things, the new technologies, which make it easier and easier to find out what best suits your home from home make sure of it: whether using CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) or thanks to Augmented Reality. Shopping for furniture using visual searches is brand new. If you see your dream couch at a party, simply take a picture of it and request the search engine to find purchase options for it online.
And the inspiration? It already works great for fashion and styling; now, its becoming more and more important for purchasing furniture as well: influencers. André knows: “In many cases it’s the fashion influencers, who, if anything incidentally, share their furnishing and decorating styles and in doing so, spark the buying interest of their followers”, But there are also many influencers, who concern themselves with the topics of furniture and interior design. André: “Currently, two bloggers in Hamburg are taking us into their flats with them and showing us their homes with the help of our 360° tool. They will then reveal more in their blogs an social media channels. Some of the furniture and accessories shown can then be purchased directly from us.”