“These days, it is almost impossible to remain competitive without offering a high degree of individualisation. We realised that at an early stage and have, as a result, achieved strong growth over the last few years,” explains Dr Georg Emprechtinger, Owner and Managing Director of TEAM 7. Despite that, he is still amazed by the scale of the trend: “What we’re currently seeing is a real emancipation of users. They decide what’s good for them, and they are increasingly liberating themselves from standard specifications.”
The customer’s wishes also take centre stage at BoConcept. “Beautiful design should never come at the expense of the customer’s individuality or joy of expression. That’s a firm principle for us,” explains Tim Kauffmann, Contract Manager DACH at BoConcept.
Customised furniture is part of TEAM 7’s formula for success: “We offer modular furniture made of natural wood that can be individually configured. By now, we’ve perfected that to the point where we can realise more or less any wish a customer can have.” The company does not have an online shop, but works with a network of retailers and its own stores. “We put great emphasis on expert consultations in which we work with the customer to develop perfect home solutions,” explains Dr Emprechtinger. “We visualise these using clear planning programmes, giving our customers a very realistic impression of the furniture and their spatial effect.”
BoConcept also offers customers personal on-site consultations that illustrate customised furnishing options. “With the aid of sophisticated functionality, we offer our customers individual solutions that make it possible to live, work and relax in the one and same place,” explains Tim Kauffmann.
Catering to customers’ individual wishes is a profitable strategy for companies. The Managing Director of TEAM 7 claims that this approach has resulted in his company being less affected by the prevailing price pressure than other manufacturers in the industry: “Customers are definitely prepared to pay more for furniture that gives them exactly what they want.”
Individualisation as a challenge
In order to offer individualisation to companies and business customers too, BoConcept set up its own Contract department to concentrate on individual projects. TEAM 7 carried out a restructuring programme: “Individualisation was a big challenge in terms of logistics above all,” says Dr Emprechtinger. “Since we only manufacture to order, we don’t need warehousing. All processes are harmonised so that everything is always in the right place at the right time. To achieve that we completely restructured the company logistics over the last few years. We are responding to future growth in individualisation demands with extensive investment – a total of €20 million in the last two years, most of which went into logistics. This has included the expansion of the logistics site, and the construction of a cutting-edge logistics centre in which bookings are carried out using electronic gloves featuring the latest scanner technology.”
A matter of technology
It would be almost impossible to supply customised products without the appropriate software. Configurators juxtapose the furniture, the space and customer wishes, and show what’s possible. When it comes to kitchen sales, TEAM 7 uses the “Carat”, “KPS-Designstudio” and “Winner” programmes. “Almost all our kitchen retailers use one of those programmes. In the areas of eating, living, sleeping and children, we use the ‘furnplan’ software. By now, the programme is more important than the price list because the planning files created from it are sent straight to us and are automatically recorded as a job. They contain all the information relevant for production. As a result, all the orders sent to us via the planning software involve no further queries – Sales and the Back Office both appreciate that very much, and it makes the manufacturing process significantly easier.”