We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that is fundamentally shifting the way we live, work, and relate to one another. With it comes the shared notion that traditional retail may be burning out, making way for the likes of e-commerce.
Retailers in all industries are facing multiple problems in driving footfall and sales in brick-and-mortar setups. This is especially evident in the furniture industry, where competition seems to be coming from all directions. Lack of manpower, demand and looming threats of online retailers are closing in on traditional furniture retail.
The Upside To The Local Furniture Industry
Karen Goi, the general manager of Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF), thinks the trade war between the U.S and China is good news for Malaysia.
This point of view comes from the fact that U.S furniture buyers and traders are outsourcing timber from other countries.
Although U.S – China trade tensions generally have a negative effect on trade in Asia, the prospects look good for Malaysia’s furniture industry, as they have the right infrastructure in place to offer their services.
Furthermore, Teresa Kok, the Primary Industries Minister, believes that the local furniture industry will be able to achieve their target of RM12bil in export earnings by this year.
So the question remains – in the midst of the retail apocalypse where brick-and-mortar stores are closing left, right and center, how are furniture retailers fairing?
Surprisingly, retail aspects of Malaysia’s furniture industry seem to be thriving in these uncertain times. Just last month, Ashley Furniture HomeStore opened up their largest flagship store in Kuala Lumpur’s Quill City Mall – affirming the demand for furniture within the consumer space.
Challenges That Smaller Retailers Are Facing
As it is, the Malaysian furniture industry is the country’s fastest growing sub-sector within the wood-based industry. Although the government has made significant strides in providing a broad policy framework to support value-adding and innovative activities, challenges are still aplenty for smaller players on the front-line.Here are some of the challenges faced by Malaysian furniture retailers:
1. Digital Competition Prevails
Perhaps the most prevalent threat to any retailer is the emergence of e-commerce. Although the furniture industry is thriving in a global space, smaller retailers are facing the “adapt or die” circumstance.
Those without the budget to move into digital retail may find themselves unable to compete with others who can.
Why scout physical stores, or even take the effort to go to IKEA when your furniture needs can be met from your smartphone? Major stores like Courts are adapting to the trend and making sure they stay relevant by starting their own e-commerce platforms. 2.