What’s the first name that pops into your mind when asked to name a furniture company? I know I thought about Ikea. And I’m guessing so did you.
The Swedish megagiant is the first place where middle class folk head to when charged with the task of furnishing their homes. It’s pretty obvious why they are so popular, seeing that they offer something you can call design without too much shame, all while respecting the vulnerability of your wallet.
Smaller design companies have difficulties reaching a more global market due to their products high logistical prices. Ordering a table from one part of the world to another can prove to be very expensive, mostly because the table requires a lot of package space. Delivery fees make it so that design shops do their best to set a strong local foothold and expansion plans abroad are left behind. To compete on an international level, furniture companies need to become huge and this usually happens with the cost of design value.
One Finnish company has taken up this challenge though. One Nordic Furniture Company has already made a name out itself, greatly thanks to its new business reformations, such as logistical solutions, online sales innovation and dedication to good quality design. Remember the comfy looking chairs at the main stage of Slush? That was them.
Based in Finland, the company is led by CEO Joel Roos. While getting his hands dirty with business management in his family business, he kept a diary of some sort. The little booklet, where he would note ideas on things that needed improvement, would make him realize that the furniture industry was old fashioned, and had been so for a long time.
He decided to start constructing a new business strategy based on his notebook. After mustering up the right team and meeting young, visionary designers, the newly baptized One Nordic Furniture Company launched their first prototype, the Bento chair, in the Stockholm Furniture fair in 2012.
So what makes today’s furniture business so old fashioned then?
Usually there are two kinds of stores where you can buy furniture: The small designer shops in city centers and the vast mega store facilities in city outskirts. The smaller shops contain more design devoted furniture, which comes with an according price. These small furniture stores have high rents to pay due to their location, so going for cheap stuff just isn’t worth it. For the wealthy, buying furniture is just a quick stop downtown, but for the common mass, there’s a very specific place to go to: the outskirt furniture giants.
Everyone knows a trip to your local Ikea won’t be over in less than an hour. Once you’re in, you’re lucky to get out before the sun sets and the kids scream for more meatballs and a new bed because they just realized the old one sucks. For the consumer, these gigantic stores are a burden on energy and time.
One Nordic approaches furniture sales from a different angle. Instead of mainly relying on retailers, they believe the future of the furniture business lies in e-commerce. Of course, retailers are a very important source of income; with retailers in 27 countries, they can hardly deny this, but e-commerce still remains their main focus of sales. Online shopping saves time and effort as customers can browse for products in the comfort of their house, while keeping easy access to extra information. This, according to Roos, is a major factor on purchase decisions. This and another one.
In order to buy furniture most people need to touch and preferably try the product themselves, and if possible, see it in a natural environment. As you guessed, even with modern technology, this is impossible to do online, which makes online furniture sales a real challenge.
Traditional companies simply have retailers where customers can go and try the chairs, tables and sofas as much as they like. Instead of doing it the traditional way, One Nordic came up with the concept of point of presence, which will work as a bridge between offline and online.
What it basically means, is that customers can browse the One Nordic catalogues online, and once they find something to their liking, the site will indicate the closest location of the product in a map. These map locations lead to public spaces, such as hotels, shopping malls and coffee shops, which have purchased One Nordic furniture and placed it in use. By the way, while browsing, remember to be on the lookout for any promotional codes, because they might come in handy later on. Anyway, after finding the closest spot to you where the desired, say, chair is located at, just armor up against whichever natural climate you need to protect yourself against, and head on to your destination.
Once arrived, you will be able try the chair and touch it as much as you like. Oh, and remember the code? Now would be the time to use it. If for example in a coffee house, you could get something like two coffees at the price of one. Pretty neat!
The point of presence will be integrated into the One Nordic webpage next February when the entire site will have a complete makeover.
Roos believes it’s critical to have the potential customer return to decision making, which can be made possible by re-invigorating the customer’s interest towards the product. For example, One Nordic plans on auctioning some of their products online. Spaces where One Nordic furniture is in use, can promote these products and advertise the company. If a customer researches more information through their mobile device and makes the purchase decision on the spot, the space owner gets a small cut of the deal as in to keep them motivated.
Eventually, in order for all of this to make sense, it all comes down to the product itself.
One thing One Nordic is very serious about, is maintaining their name associated with quality design. They work closely with the most prominent young designers in the northern hemisphere in order to keep their look fresh and stylish.
Design aside, practicality is another important factor that makes their furniture very interesting. Logistical fees are the reason why traditional furniture is too expensive to ship, this mainly because they are fully assembled when sent.
All of the One Nordic furniture is self-assembled at home. Engineers have made it so that assembly is completely intuitive and no complicated manuals are necessary. The simplified parts can be put together in a matter of seconds. This has drastic effects of lowering shipping price and it greatly facilitates moving the furniture if you’re moving to a new place.
What about the price then? Well, it is true that One Nordic furniture isn’t the cheapest option, but considering the quality and design, it truly isn’t too overpriced either. Basic products going from 200-400 euros to the bigger furniture priced between 1000-1500 euros, one might have to carefully choose which one to buy, but there won’t be any imminent threat of economical annihilation.
Called the luxury Ikea by the press, One Nordic has a very potential market to conquer out there. Nordic furniture minimalism is all over the place, and consumers are craving for simple design with affordable prices.
They have an ongoing investment round of €750K, with a nice part already collected. These funds are likely to develop the point of presence and take One Nordic further into international waters.
We’ll be hearing more about One Nordic on the 4th of February next year when the Stockholm Furniture fairs take place.
They’re also on the lookout for talented people to work on their sales department, so don’t hesitate to apply if you feel like you’re the man or woman for the job!
Middle Image Courtesy of Shutterstock // Ikea