In November last year, tapio was part of a panel discussion within the Congress of furniture manufacturing (More on this in my blog). There we also met LECTRA. Subsequently, tapio was invited by LECTRA as a speaker for their own event "Upholster the future" on 04th of April.
We have outgrown the production step and are currently focusing primarily on kitchens and furniture production in large and small. LECTRA itself is at home in the world of upholstered furniture. So there were enough starting points for an exciting discussion, but also enough new things to learn. Personally, I found it particularly fascinating how little automation is possible nowadays in the production step of the actual upholstery. Although the cutting is already very optimized, the entire industry is still very much characterized by manual work, as Dr. Mark Reuber from IWT Institut very clearly demonstrated.
The insights into the market development over the last 10+ years and the changing requirements of customers by Ralf Jackels from IFH Cologne have given a nice start to the day. Even in the long-term view, no real changes in the form of sales channels are visible in furniture sales. It is still the case that just under 80% are sold through specialist retailers. Which is certainly a peculiarity in the German-speaking area, but for me, it was a surprise, as we have seen several larger new companies in recent years that are just starting out in sales. In comparison to 2005 and 2018, however, they were able to increase their share "only" from 0.1% to 3.6%. I also found it exciting that the most important criterion for customers in online furniture retail seems to be "online build-up tutorials." This fits very well into the YoutTube culture and the DIY trend. I'm sure that a lot will change in the next few years. IKEA as one of the big players has made interesting approaches with its activities over the last two years.
The unique thing about the LECTRA event was that we were able to talk about various topics in small groups afterward, which led to an intensive exchange and made the event interactive. These discussions showed me that our idea of an open ecosystem for an industry is the right approach. All customers have confirmed that they share this approach and also see the danger that they will need various solutions afterward, but that there are no synergies.