Published on : Monday, December 18, 2017
The furniture industry has recognised the enormous changes taking place in conjunction with internationalisation and digitalisation, and many market participants feel the need to take on the new challenges. The imm cologne Congress, which is taking place for the fifth time in the context of imm cologne 2018, represents the best-suited platform for this purpose, and will once again be intensively utilised to exchange ideas about the current spectrum of themes revolving around e-commerce.
Matthias Pollmann, Vice President Trade Fair Management of Koelnmesse, says, “The changes are of course already visible today, but the furniture industry should not only react to the new developments, but instead also participate in shaping them. In the process it isn’t necessary to reinvent the wheel for everyone.”
Numerous best practice examples and discussion panels at the Congress will focus on the factors for the success of furniture e-commerce. Ultimately, the question should be answered as to whether e-commerce in the furniture industry is “nice to have” or is necessary in the struggle for survival.
Growth in furniture e-commerce – criteria of customers and investors
The furniture online trade Congress for imm cologne 2017 with a focus on “digitalisation” was a complete success with 150 participants. The makers of the imm cologne Congress 2018 want to follow up on this success and the findings won. The one-day congress starts with a stocktaking: Dr Kai Hudetz from the institute for research in commerce (IFH) presents current facts and figures in furniture e-commerce and points out how the trade will position itself in future. In the process he focuses on customer centricity in his lecture, or how one can optimally address customers across channels.
But who will make the investments in future, and thus dominate the market? Michael H. Bork (Equistone Partners Europe) and Florian Pauthner (SevenVentures) will take part in the investors panel for this session. The two experts have identified a shift of priorities from the generalist to the niche provider, and take a look behind the curtains of investors. The best practice example of home24 presents the exciting path from the startup to the important market player. Marc Appelhoff (CEO of home 24 AG) points out the factors for success in his lecture and describes the important search for the market niche required to enjoy success in a saturated market.
Omnichannel – how to effectively use multiple channels to reach your customers
Three best practice examples in e-commerce are representative of successful models for the use of several sales channels: founder Michael Petersen describes the successful change in strategy of smow.de from online pure player to stationary space. Thomas Voigt (F+V Schuhe/gaborshop24.de) will describe an entirely different path, namely that of the purely stationary shoe specialist trade company to an online presence, and Alexander Mendler (Mendler Vertriebs-GmbH / heute-wohnen.de) describes how one operates a parallel sales system via platforms, trading partners and one’s own online shop. The complementary panel discussion on the focus theme of “Omnichannel everywhere” of this congress session with Dr Michael Heller (Otto), Arne Stock (moebel.de Einrichten & Wohnen AG), Michael Petersen (smow.de) and Alexander Mendler (heute-wohnen.de) promises to provide the foundations for deciding for or against a variety of model variants.
Expansion model from and to Germany
The makers of the congress take a look at international business models in another session. Björn Seynsche (Wayfair Europe) thus describes how international players are adapting to the German market. And Tonino Mulas (mutoni möbel) from Switzerland addresses the challenges involved in online trade with non-EU Member States, and thus provides a preview of the changes to future trade relations with United Kingdom.
Artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality
The congress is also dedicated to new technologies. Roel Pollen (3Dimerce) from the Netherlands is certain of the breakthrough of augmented reality and provides and overview of the market for augmented and virtual reality and the available solutions. What are the actual chances, and how can augmented reality change the furniture market? The theme of digital furniture is discussed by Albert Ortig (roomle) and Andrea Fischer (G+J Living Digital) using the example of cooperation between Schöner Wohnen and roomle, and they even refer to a democratisation of interior design in this connection. Inspirations and product experiences should soon be available to everyone and at all times.
Customer service, returns and social media marketing
Another thematic block deals exclusively with the end customer. At round tables, congress participants can discuss one of the four trend themes with experts: “The importance of influencers”, “Inspirational online access paths for living”, “Efficient reduction of returns with behavioural economics” or “The sensible deployment of regional marketing”. There is also enough time for networking during the breaks and while having lunch together.
The target groups of the imm cologne Congress day are retailers and wholesalers, industry representatives and associations from the furniture, kitchen and interior design industries. The focus is on board members, managing directors, decision makers and senior managers from marketing and sales, purchasing and logistics, as well as retail marketing. Employees from the the areas of product and brand management, e-commerce online marketing and strategic planning can also acquire a valuable information advantage for their daily work.
“Just as we provide our exhibitors with a result-oriented business platform with imm cologne, we also want to provide our partners with an additional discussion forum with the imm cologne Congress; one which offers them real added value”, concludes Matthias Pollmann.
The 5th imm cologne Congress takes place on 18.01.2018 parallel with imm cologne 2018 in the Congress Centre North of Koelnmesse.