Office furniture supply for Small business and E-commerce in Europe
CSIL Market Research has recently published results of a survey on a sample of one hundred office furniture dealers for an in-depth analysis of supply activity for small accounts in Europe.
The perspective of this research is not restricted to understanding the furnishing of office spaces but it has been conceived for a wider panorama of activities, like furniture for small hotels, B&B, bar/restaurants, co-working, and individual offices.
The latest figures published by the European Commission in 2018 record 25 million SMEs in the EU-28, of which 93% micro-SMEs (less than 10 employees and below Eur 2 million revenues).
According to the sample of dealers interviewed, the small business customers served in Europe are composed of 58% medium/small offices (agencies, lawyers, studios, etc.), 17% private/home offices, and 13% co-working facilities. Other commercial customer segments (non-office segments) account for 13%.
The market of small accounts is heavily in the hand of distributors (both small and large) due to the high fragmentation and average dimensions of the supplies. Furthermore, customers are increasingly using e-commerce and m-commerce for the purchase of furniture as well.
As emerged in the survey, customers mainly approach the dealer through the web (website or social media), with the store visit still being important but less frequent for the ‘first’ approach. As a consequence, distributors are more and more using web tools like Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedin to promote their activity.
Around 32% of survey respondents declared that they are using some form of e-commerce (owned or third parties’ web platforms), and this share increased by over 10% over the last two years. The share of distributors using the web channel is expected to further expand, as a significant share of respondents declares an intention to invest in e-commerce within 2021. To be noted that dealers using e-commerce for web sales for total office furniture turnover is still below 5%.
E-commerce for the furniture sector is still a price-driven business. The main influencing factors when purchasing online are price, promotions/ discounts, and payment options, reflected by the highest rates in the survey. However, purchases are still largely conditioned by the level of service offered, especially: space planning/interior design, time of delivery and project references.
Product finishing and variety of portfolios are among the top three factors driving the customer when finalizing the commitment.