Every day, people embrace new ways to shop for furniture. The showroom plays an evolving role in the customer journey — intersecting with digital experiences like e-commerce, social media, mobile apps, and augmented reality.
All this change leads many furniture companies to ask: How do I ensure my business is ready for what comes next?
This article explores four major trends disrupting the furniture industry. We’ll also share examples of how Amplifi’s leading furniture clients—like Bassett Furniture, Nebraska Furniture Mart, and MillerKnoll—use data management to stay ahead of the curve.
Trend 1: The Rise of Online Furniture
The furniture e-commerce market is thriving. Consumers are more comfortable buying furniture online, relying on detailed product descriptions, images, videos, and tools like augmented reality (AR) to understand a product’s look and feel. B2B customers are also more likely to prefer online catalogs and e-commerce.
Just how big is the furniture e-commerce market?
From 2021 to 2023, furniture e-commerce sales increased by $1 billion each year, an average rate of 3.5% per year. Online shopping presents an exciting opportunity — but many furniture brands are slow to adapt.
Poor data practices are often to blame
For many brands, launching an e-commerce site or selling across marketplaces feels impossible when their data is scattered and siloed.
One of our clients, a leading global ergonomic furniture manufacturer, experienced this exact dilemma during the pandemic. Remote work and e-commerce surged, which put pressure on the company to quickly adapt. Ultimately, they partnered with Amplifi to develop the right data strategy, supported by a scalable digital shelf PIM solution.
But not every manufacturer has taken this crucial step, as significant data issues stand in the way.
For one thing, furniture items have a wide range of characteristics like color, size, patterns, materials, and configurations. This complexity makes it difficult to manage the volume and variety of data required for a successful e-commerce site.
Publishing data is another challenge. It’s one thing to have data stored in systems or spreadsheets — it’s another to continually publish that data to downstream channels. Manual processes can’t keep up with the rapid pace of digital commerce.
Real-world success: Bassett Furniture powers e-commerce with PIM
Leading furniture brands recognize the need for change. For example, Bassett Furniture—an Amplifi client—recently implemented PIM as the first step to digital transformation.
Rhonda Scott, Director of Enterprise Application at Bassett, explained:
“We wanted to grow our online business and extend the customer experience from web to store in a consistent way. Yet we knew we could not enrich our data in 10 different databases and connect the dots on our own. We needed a system that would enable us to automate and scale.”
Bassett saw an opportunity to redefine its business model and include scalability and speed to market. So, they worked with Amplifi to implement Precisely EnterWorks PIM and transform their data practices — from the back end of internal processes to the front end of e-commerce.
“The ability to move our product data into a central platform—which allows us to curate and navigate the product lifecycle in a way that other systems can easily ingest—was an essential first step in our digital transformation,” said Scott.
Trend 2: The Gen Z and Millennial Takeover
Gen Z and millennials are shaking up the furniture world. According to a study by Consumer Insights Now, millennials and Generation Z are driving furnishing sales, accounting for nearly 70% of all purchases in recent months.
They’ve stepped out of their college dorms and starter homes into the next stages of careers and raising families. This transition marks a shift, and brands must create experiences that meet their habits and needs.
- Represent the largest generation, wielding $600 billion in purchasing power.
- Are obsessed with online product research, but like to go in-store for big-ticket items.
- Strongly desire product customization, and like to use AR technology to get a more personalized experience.
- Prefer buying a roomful of furniture as a package, according to 40% of millennial shoppers.
The report also notes that Gen Z is:
- More likely to base buying decisions on emotions experienced during the e-commerce process.
- Influenced by social media and frequently make purchases via social and influencer ads.
- Apt to wait until they have a list of wants and needs before visiting stores, usually with friends.
- Overwhelmed by the furniture shopping process, as noted by over 50% of respondents.
These findings present a unique challenge for furniture brands. How can you offer rich product content and extensive customization options, without the decision fatigue that comes with an overwhelming shopping experience?
Example: NFM relies on PIM to sell customized products online
A great example of offering customizable products—while still making the experience easy and enjoyable—is Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM).
NFM turned to Amplifi for a PIM implementation that supports feature-driven product information, helping them effectively sell customized products online.
When an NFM customer places a customized furniture order online, they will experience easy-to-use drop-down menus with correct option preferences for features like size, color, fabric, arm choices, pillow, wood options, and more. Likewise, pricing will be automatically updated as customers select various customization options.
Trend 3: Sustainability
Sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations are increasingly important in the furniture industry.
Research from the Sustainable Furnishings Council gives insight into consumer attitudes toward eco-friendly home furnishings:
- Nearly 60% of participants are open to paying a premium of 5 to 10% for home furnishings that are certified as eco-friendly.
- 92% showed interest in purchasing wooden furniture certified as legal and sourced from responsibly managed forests.
- 95% were interested in buying textiles marked with a third-party certification as “safe.”
- 90% noted that chemicals and materials involved in the production of furniture play a significant role in their purchasing decisions.
To meet these customer demands, comply with regulations, and support e-commerce and packaging efforts, businesses must effectively track and manage sustainability-related data and assets.
ESG requirements and reporting mandates play a significant role in shaping the furniture industry. Meeting your sustainability and ESG-related goals requires diligent tracking of relevant data, demonstrating a commitment to responsible business practices, and ensuring that your organization’s values align with customer expectations.
Integrate sustainability data into e-commerce, design, and packaging
To showcase your commitment to sustainability, it’s crucial to track data related to materials, certifications, manufacturing practices, and sourcing — along with digital assets like logos and icons.
This information helps demonstrate the eco-friendliness of your products and supports your efforts to meet the growing demand for sustainable options.
A great example of this commitment is MillerKnoll, a leading brand designing the future of furniture sustainability. The company recently selected Amplifi for PIM strategy and platform implementation.
MillerKnoll’s focus on customer experience, design, and sustainability made digital commerce and product configurability ideal areas to target with PIM.
Guided by Amplifi, their PIM implementation helps deliver a seamless experience for B2B and retail customers, providing consistent product information, including sustainability-related data, across platforms such as Design Within Reach. PIM will also support initiatives like bundling and customizing products based on configuration rules.
Trend 4: A New Era for the Housing Market
Economic factors and “housing paralysis” have caused a ripple effect across various industries, including furniture and home furnishing sales.
While you may not have control over an unstable housing market, you can control your ability to adapt to fluctuations in supply and demand.
For instance, supply chain disruptions during the pandemic led to low inventory and out-of-stock items, followed by excess inventory for specific products. A slumping and unstable housing market may present similar concerns.
Gain visibility into your product lifecycle
Greater visibility into the product lifecycle can help you overcome supply chain challenges. This involves assessing which products should be sunsetted or replaced, identifying back-ordered or out-of-stock items, addressing inventory issues, and considering alternative materials or suppliers.
By leveraging data-driven insights, you can quickly adapt to market fluctuations and ensure your business remains competitive and profitable.
For example, Bassett Furniture leverages a central data source for visibility and decision-making. Insights into sales patterns help determine which configurations are bestsellers, which impacts inventory and pricing decisions. When discontinuing a product, they also rely on product data to inform product replacement, photography needs, final order dates, and more. PIM provides a level of insight and productivity that they’ve never had before.
Bonus trend: Furniture Rental / Rent to Own
Considering the unstable housing market, there’s an interesting trend gaining traction: the “furniture for rent” or “rent to own” market.
Furniture purchases often occur with a new home purchase. But with so much uncertainty in the housing market, consumers may hold off on purchases due to the unknown. The silver lining may be an opportunity to adopt a rental model.
Again, furniture rentals rely on a complex product lifecycle, with unique data challenges only PIM or MDM can solve.
The important point is this: Once you have a solid data foundation, you can seize whatever opportunity or requirements come next — whether e-commerce, augmented reality, AI, or rent to own. No matter what, you’re ready.
Your Data Approach Makes the Difference
To navigate these trends, many furniture businesses turn to data management as an effective and scalable solution. By skillfully managing master data, you can uncover new revenue opportunities and savings, paving the way for success in the competitive furniture market.
Amplifi has helped numerous furniture leaders like Bassett Furniture, NFM, and MillerKnoll accomplish their data and digital transformation goals. And we’d love to help you, too.
One last thing…
There’s another big furniture trend to explore: Configurable products.
The ability to offer customization is a huge competitive advantage for furniture brands. It’s also highly complex and nearly impossible without PIM or MDM.
Our team at Amplifi has mastered this type of data implementation — and we have tons of helpful and specific insights to share. We’ll cover this topic in depth in the next post of our series, so stay tuned!