Like all others, the furniture industry is dealing with challenging political and economic circumstances.
Whilst the Covid pandemic and resulting lockdowns saw the furniture market size decrease in 2020, in 2021 UK households purchased approximately £24.5billion worth of furniture and furnishings - a slight increase on pre-pandemic levels. The costs of materials and fuel for furniture manufacturers are increasing, driving up the retail price of furniture.
In addition, customer demand and trends, are always going to be factors that affect what furniture 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.
Whilst it can be difficult to plan for the future, UK businesses need to be agile to ensure they can navigate these challenges and supply according to demand. Finding ways to simplify processes will ultimately help with the bottom line, allowing furniture manufacturers to balance production in smarter ways. 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.
Challenges Facing Furniture Manufacturers
There are several internal challenges facing businesses in the furniture industry:
- Outdated production processes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 materials and rising costs
- Supply chain issues
- Unstable economy
- Skillset shortages
- Shop/seller discounts
The most pressing issue for furniture manufacturers is the rising costs of raw materials and making the decision of how much to absorb and how much to pass on to 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 be 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 Furniture ERP Software Solutions
There are innovative software solutions to manage the furniture manufacturing process more effectively. A specialised furniture ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) 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
- Providing traceability for fire certifications
A software solution should fit both your industry and your own unique business requirements, and cover your end-to-end process from tracking orders through to delivery. It 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.