Let's make the point on furniture distribution

Posted in Italy on Monday, 05 September 2016. Print

From a meeting in the editorial room between Giorgio Coppola, Flou agent for Milan and its province, and Flavio Maestrini a stimulant discussion has originated. Some ideas have emerged, giving raise to a debate around the world of distribution in Italy.

Let's make the point on furniture distribution

Distribution in Italy, in the furniture industry is undergoing a selection, exacerbated by the economic crisis that hit the Western countries in the recent years, withthe aggravating circumstance of a historic fragmentation of national distribution. Given that in 1980 we had in Italy 27,000 licenses for furniture stores and 14,000 in 2013, in 33 years there has been a considerable decrease; but if we compare that data with the German market, which has 5,000 sales points for 80milion of inhabitants, compared to 60 million of Italian population, we should lose in the next few years at least 9,000 resellers. It is likely that such a long time for the selection (in Italy) has been determined by multiple factors such as the historical fragmentation of the distribution, the diversification of profits made by retailers in the past (real estate, financial income etc.), which allow to finance the activities or accept profits not commensurate to the investments. All these factors and other more led to a decrease in the economic stimulus, the main component for real drivers of change, also causing the decline of the creativity that had characterized this segment. Simultaneously with the above is the loss of market sectors such as lighting, the decline of the upholstery and the rooting of organized distribution (Chateau d'Ax - Divani&Divani- Poltrone e Sofè etc.) and large distribution (Ikea- Gran Casa - Mondo Convenienza etc.). In other activities the change has been dramatic: bakeries that from selling only bread (with fixed prices) have become pastry shop- bar-restaurant etc; coffee bars that exploit their space for breakfastin the morning,for lunch at midday andoffering happy hour  in the evening; greengrocers who offer smoothies and other products taking advantages of the bio-food quality trend. In the furniture sector, instead, we have less and less popular large exhibitions, cold in winter and hot in summer, which are moving towards a slow decline. Currently the layout is sometimes better in the large distribution compared with qualified retails. When there are exhibitions with low turnovers, not sufficient to manage them, it should be taken into consideration to resize spaces and optimize the remaining with the income from an "extraordinary sale", to be managed as an event involving the historical customers andpotential ones. Another underestimated component is the use of internet and social networks, increasingly important tools but to be used sinergicallywith a global marketing management. The exhibition quality is crucial not only because the showroom deals with qualified brands, but also because the spaces are made innovative by creating reception and waiting areas with sofas and shelving for consulting books and furniture magazines, with a chance to see videos of projects, materials and special processing. This allows making pleasant the staying of the client in the showroom. Also, if you do not carry out the first part, the use of the web and social networks would become negative because it would be made a useless effort and in some cases even counterproductive, since the actual exhibition space (obsolete) would not correspond with the image advertised onthe website, which as often happens display the photographs of the company catalogues. Instead, starting from the hypothesis of having realized an optimal exhibition space and having communicated via social media and internet with all the places of exposition at their best, two other aspects are important: a good IT expert and the constant control over the use of these tools from the property (or marketing manager) so that they could become synergistic with the state of the exposition and all the initiatives that you are constantly realizing: thematic events, meetings with architects, debates on opportunities of design information, extraordinary sales periods in the canonical months (January and July).


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