Furniture News #378

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HI, TECH With ecommerce demand going through the roof against a backdrop of enforced store closures, the need to embrace technology has never been clearer. In this special feature, Paul Farley asks the furniture sector’s tech vendors to explain what they offer, and how it can help retailers rise to the challenge …

The pandemic has worked wonders for online shopping, with the furniture sector one of the major beneficiaries. In 2020, online sales of home products in the UK grew by +74.4% (reports IMRG Capgemini) – indeed, online furniture sales were up +63% in December alone. Interestingly, the real winners of this accelerated channel switch were not the big pureplay online businesses but multichannel retailers, which saw online sales growth of +57% (versus just +9.1% for the pureplays) – proving that bricks and clicks (and a pinch of ‘shop local’) is a recipe for success. Increasingly, technology is playing a vital role in enabling businesses to meet demand. A retailer wishing to upscale or optimise their operation must turn to modern management platforms, which can provide them with a detailed and immediate picture of stock levels,

marketing activity ROI, buying trends and more, while cutting-edge services guarantee robust and engaging ecommerce websites at the front end. Greater technological agility means businesses can pivot to meet changing demand, cut costs and reduce waste, at speed – while freeing up time spent on mundane tasks. The area is complex, yet understanding its potential is necessary for keeping up with the pace of progress. To help demystify the jargon and explain how technology can help a retail business, we’ve assembled a panel of expert spokespeople from across the sector, comprising: Wayne Robbins, director, Iconography; David Thompson, MD, Swan Retail; David Hewitt, distributor (Central Europe), RetailSystem Group; and Branwell Moffat, UK director of CX consulting, KPS Digital.

Clockwise from top left: David Thompson, Branwell Moffat, David Hewitt and Wayne Robbins


WHAT SERVICES DO YOU OFFER? Wayne Robbins: We’ve a great track record in providing ecommerce websites within the furniture sector, but we’ve evolved. Over the last two years we’ve been working on OMNIS – our unified commerce platform – with ecommerce, EPoS, CRM and retail management all in a single platform, run by one database. At Iconography, we believe in removing the limitations, constraints and operational inefficiencies caused by integrations and legacy retail management systems. David Thompson: Swan offers a complete, end-to-end, in-house service, from the development of advanced retail solutions software to website design and marketing – with every function in between. We prioritise

seamless integration, the ability to influence customer behaviour and making day-to-day retailing more efficient. Put simply, we make retail easier.

overselling discontinued products, for example). If the retailer is a user of RetailSystem, then their system is automatically updated with all the relevant changes, added images, etc.

David Hewitt: RetailSystem’s TradeAxis is a digital solution that enables manufacturers, wholesalers, agents and retailers to keep up to date with their price lists, brochures and stock, removing the need to mail out hundreds of paper communications and the inevitable delay that causes on implementation (and avoiding

Branwell Moffat: KPS helps businesses design and build omnichannel digital commerce platforms that provide their customers with best-practice customer experiences. In layman’s terms, this means that we help join the in-store and online experiences to help our customers grow their ecommerce business.


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