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With today’s challenging political and economic circumstances, it’s difficult for businesses to plan for the future. Finding ways to simplify processes will ultimately help with the bottom line, allowing manufacturers to balance production in smarter ways.

All this will be led by customer demand and trends, as these are going to always be factors that affect what is made. Renters are less likely to buy high-end furniture; living space is now a premium and many people live in smaller places, while lifestyles are generally more transient. All these will impact the type of furniture they buy, with larger and more expensive purchases more exclusive.

Despite the challenges facing buyers right now, the European furniture market is set to grow at 4% in 2019 so UK businesses need to be agile to ensure they can navigate these challenges and supply according to demand. Luckily, there are innovative solutions that can help.

With these uncertain circumstances set to continue for the foreseeable future, being responsive to incoming orders and anticipating as much as possible will help your company be as robust as possible. Furniture is a big purchase for most people, and demand fluctuates according to trends.

Challenges facing furniture manufacturers

There are several internal challenges facing businesses in the furniture industry:

  • Scheduling
  • Adaption
  • Outdated production processes
  • Lack of a robust ordering system
  • Inventory mismanagement

As well as the above issues, there are external issues to consider, and these may have more of an impact on manufacturers:

  • Sourcing raw material and rising costs
  • Supply chain issues
  • Unstable economy
  • Skillset shortages
  • Shop/seller discounts

The most pressing issue for furniture manufacturers is the fluctuating costs of raw materials and making the decision whether to absorb them or pass them onto customers. This will affect most businesses and impact your ability to strive in this competitive environment. It’s going to be a difficult decision to make for most, but a necessary one, so finding new ways to cut costs such as simplifying production and auditing your supply chain to see where new efficiencies can made, will be critical to helping save money where possible.

Savings can be made in several ways, one of which is by having better visibility across your supply chain to identify where there is room for improvement. An audit will help you potentially create efficiencies around ordering, inventory management and other key processes. Gaining valuable insight into your production management and critical processes will further allow you plan for upcoming changes such as staff turnover, maintenance of machines and resource availability.

Robust solutions

There are innovative solutions to managing the manufacturing process more effectively. A specialised enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution can simplify production and cut out unnecessary processes.

Look for a system that can help with:

  • Managing inventory and ordering of fabrics efficiently
  • Material and fabric restriction such as dye batch and pattern matching
  • Manufacturing by location
  • Customisation and customer preferences
  • Production and delivery schedules
  • Bulk picking
  • Provide traceability for fire certifications

An IT solution should fit both your industry’s as well as your own unique business requirements, whether cover your end-to-end process from tracking orders through to delivery. But you should ensure you have insight into your processes, enabling you to make crucial decisions as necessary.  

Intelligent technology now allows you to see trends within your business. For example, being able to see an overview of what is being ordered and what is popular – colour, fabric, shape, materials – will enable you to focus production on key areas. Managing your inventory efficiently will also help reduce waste. With a deeper understanding of production and processes, it will be easier to set prices and costs for your furniture range, along with how to provide additional options such as bespoke furniture.