As people look to transform their homes to accommodate life in the pandemic era, consumers are increasingly turning to shopping for furniture online. In fact, online orders for all products, from the essentials to home repair and furnishings, have surged more than 80 percent in North America since January, according to joint research from Emarsys and GoodData. Binge-worthy shows like “The Home Edit” have only fueled demand as families seek to modify their living spaces.

That may be good news for furniture brands, retailers, and manufacturers trying to maintain sales revenue during uncertain times, but the shift in consumer behavior isn’t without its challenges. With the unprecedented demand, supply chains are facing mounting pressures as they attempt to manage scaled-back operations, inventory levels, materials sourcing, and new technologies to facilitate business communications, such as invoicing, outside of the office. And that’s just in-house.

With stay-at-home-orders across the country still in effect, and in-store traffic at a minimal, consumers are increasingly more comfortable taking their shopping experiences online — and they may never return to their pre-COVID buying habits. That means the seamless buying experiences offered by online retail giants such as Amazon will be forever cemented in consumers’ minds. Does your company match up?

Accelerating the Digital Transformation On-Site

With many companies still reliant upon outdated processes, they risk getting left behind in the post-pandemic world. The challenges from COVID are surmountable to be sure, but so too is the opportunity to reevaluate technology’s role in the supply chain process. Failing to embrace these technologies now can create critical bottlenecks companies may never recover from.

Understanding how different facets of the supply industry are managing disruptions to their operations can help all industries identify solutions to weather the storm.

Whether companies have limited the number of workers on-site to keep them safe, or have reduced the labor force to streamline costs, employers need to invest in technology that will allow them to communicate with their staff, customers and vendors.

For one, furniture companies need to have an easy-to-use online experience that will keep their customers satisfied and mimic an in-store experience. In fact, one-third of consumers are unsatisfied with the amount of product or visual content provided online, according to Salsify. Companies need to ensure their ecommerce pages include a clear product title, high-quality images, reviews, customer testimonials, and other content like video to entice customers to make a purchase.

But a pretty website won’t help the business if a company has lost sight of its operations. Communication software platforms like Slack and Enterprise Resource Planning systems can help furniture companies keep track of everything from the front office to the shop floor, with insights into in-house production, inventory management, and deliveries status. Using communications platforms is more important now than ever before because the workforce is dispersed.

Meeting the eCommerce Demand Surge with Mass Production

As customers struggle to quickly make room for offices and virtual learning, on-demand manufacturing is on the rise. Furniture companies need to have a supply chain that is able to handle the influx of orders. With the focus now shifting to ecommerce, it has placed pressure on furniture manufacturers to produce products at a pace they may not have previously been prepared for.

When dealing with mass production operations, efficiency is key, and fully-connected and integrated systems add value. But, relying on historical data to generate forecasts simply may not work. It’s important to look at real-time data, consumer trends, and other “demand signals” to determine future planning.

Running a business operation during the pandemic has shown companies they need to be agile and quickly react to changes in the market.

In addition to tapping into data, companies must consider investing in advanced furniture production technologies. For the furniture industry, optimizing a high-level of throughput with limited manpower can create some challenges. Selecting a production solution that is seamlessly integrated across the planning, design, and production phases is critical to thriving in this new environment.

Leveraging the latest technology in smart cutting systems that capture near real-time data about the health of the machine and production data can provide the user with information to make decisions regarding product and workflow optimization, which leads to meaningful cost-savings.

Simultaneously, an emphasis on high quality cuts and automated processes can ensure that the first cut is the right cut, and that the designer’s intent is met to the highest level of precision. Errors cost time / money and having a cutting system that is designed to minimize errors while optimizing throughput is now more important than ever.

In the home and leisure industry the material handling is extremely important, and often very expensive. The digital cutter being used needs to be flexible enough to handle a variety of tasks and materials. Technology advancements in knife sensors has allowed digital cutters to very accurately cut parts from large and expensive materials, produce high production volumes and the ability to cut through a wide range of fabrics which allows for greater customization and speed, all while requiring less skilled labor.

Regardless of the environment or the job, selecting the correct digital cutting solution is essential to being able to facilitate a flexible, cost-efficient end-to-end manufacturing process.

Why You Should Choose Gerber’s Atria Digital Cutter

The Atria digital cutter has applications across a number of industries, but some of its key features are the real reason why furniture industry professionals consider it a potential solution to production in the post-COVID world.

Combined with a seamless ecommerce experience for customers and an effective communications platform in-house, the Atria digital cutter can accelerate ROI. From reducing labor and material costs, to reputational gains and durability, the Atria digital cutter is designed to optimize the likelihood of the first cut being the right cut, every time. This alone can minimize the cost of supplies, while enforcing a high-quality standard that is in turn passed on to the customer.

When the customer can have high confidence in the buying experience and product delivery, the Atria digital cutter is a worthy cost-saving investment for most any business — especially in today’s challenging environment.

The post Furniture Industry Facing a New Normal: COVID Commerce Accelerates Digital Supply Chain appeared first on Furniture Today.

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