Furniture & Interior Design

Furniture trade? It’s changing and evolving!

5 min.

With more and more furniture being sold via the internet in future, the demands on the materials used will also change. How versatile plastics contribute to overcoming the last hurdles facing the online furniture trade.

© Röhm GmbH – Acrylic Products

Those wanting to be successful in the furniture sector over the long term must take online trade into consideration – a point on which trade experts agree. After all, growth in the online furniture trade means a considerable redistribution away from stationary trade. This is especially important since the coronavirus crisis further accelerated the shift of furniture trade toward an online business, as the Association of the German Furniture Industry (VDM) found out in a joint study with the Association for Modern Kitchens (AMK).



This is the predicted average annual growth in online sales in the German furniture trade between 2017 and 2023. Over the same period, sales from the stationary trade are set to drop by an annual average of 9.7% by 2023.

In November 2020, the sector association put the online share for the furniture trade at around 18 percent. This figure could grow to 25 percent over the next four years, estimates VDM CEO Jan Kurth and explains: “The corona-dictated retreat to one’s home results in a lively demand for furniture.”

This currently benefits the well-known online furniture retailers such as Westwing and home 24, who are enjoying the boom. “This will be a sustainable trend,” predicts Marc Appelhoff, head of home 24 in a statement to the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland. Even the industry giant IKEA, previously predominantly active in stationary trade, recorded a share of online business of 16.2 percent, compared to 9.4 percent the previous year.

Still, the development of online sales in the furniture sector is lagging behind the growth rates experienced by other consumer goods sectors. There are numerous reasons for this, such as the frequent lack of consumer-friendly delivery and return options or a convincing product visualization.

Thus, manufacturers and retailers must work on overcoming these hurdles if they want to secure a slice of the cake over the long term.

Meeting the requirements of parcel services

Quick, frequently free and easy returns – online customers also expect the same trouble-free delivery of their furniture as they have become accustomed to from other products. That is why many online furniture retailers are already relying heavily on parcel services instead of freight forwarders. To better meet the requirements of parcel services, furniture manufacturers could make increasing use of lightweight and robust materials, such as PLEXIGLAS®, in the future.

Up to now, kitchen furniture, wardrobes and bathroom furniture have often had surfaces made of glass or glass laminate, which is made of a combination of wood and glass. Such components are often heavy and can break easily – a challenge for the commonly high return rates experienced by the online trade.

PLEXIGLAS® for furniture and interior fittings

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PLEXIGLAS® solves these problems and is a high-quality alternative to glass for a variety of reasons: The brand acrylic glass can be used to create smooth, high-gloss surfaces, which meet the trend towards high-gloss furniture fronts. At the same time, it is lighter than glass and is far more robust – thus it is ideally suited for (multiple) transports. This is an advantage when it comes to shipping and assembling the furniture and makes relocations easier.

Plastics such as PLEXIGLAS® can simplify returns of online purchases of home and interior products. Uncomplicated and consumer-friendly exchange options have the potential to overcome an important hurdle to online trade, according to experts.

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Enable products to be experienced digitally

Furthermore, plastics offer the furniture industry a wide range of design options. PLEXIGLAS®, for example, possesses a wide range pf colors and surfaces, it can easily be combined with lighting and can be printed. This diversity could play a stronger role in future purchasing decisions – through an improved digital product experience using augmented reality and virtual reality.

According to the market overview “The German furniture industry” by PricewaterhouseCoopers, this technology could someday become the standard, as it allows customers to view furniture and other furnishings virtually from home. After all, it is of course not possible to feel materials online – still one of the biggest challenges to the online furniture trade.

But augmented reality and virtual reality not only make it possible to visualize pieces of furniture in the customer’s own living room – it is also possible to try out a wide range of materials and configure the piece of furniture exactly to one’s own taste. This is a convenient alternative to the hustle and bustle of a furniture store – not only during the coronavirus pandemic.

Furniture fronts made from PLEXIGLAS®

Furniture fronts need to look good and withstand a lot. Laminates are a robust and individual alternative to a range of materials including real wood. PLEXIGLAS® is well suited for the lamination of typical substrate materials. Moreover, because PLEXIGLAS® is great for printing, there is a world of possibilities for creating individual designs and color variants. The original acrylic glass from Röhm is also easy to maintain.

© istock/lookslike

Wall cladding made from PLEXIGLAS®

Large vertical surfaces can make even small rooms appear larger than they really are. With PLEXIGLAS®, you can find the right seamless solution for every room – whether in an elegant single-color design with an extraordinary depth effect, or with limitless possibilities for individualization. When the material needs to be breakproof and durable while also being lighter than glass or tiles, PLEXIGLAS® is the perfect choice.

© istock/LEK_3DPHOTO

Kitchen back walls made from PLEXIGLAS®

When used as a kitchen back wall, PLEXIGLAS® protects walls from moisture and dirt – while also being easy to fit and maintain. When designing a kitchen back wall, the sheer versatility of PLEXIGLAS® gives your creativity free rein.

© Acryl-Licht-Design GmbH

Room dividers made from PLEXIGLAS®

Room dividers made from PLEXIGLAS® fit in with your completely individual design. The diversity of PLEXIGLAS® enables a structured, transparent or translucent appearance, as well as colored or lit partitions. The large sheets allow for room dividers that reach all the way to the ceiling, for example.

© iStock/krooogle

Doors made from PLEXIGLAS®

Whether on cupboards, in the kitchen or in the bathroom, doors are everyday objects. The materials used must therefore be robust and easy to clean. PLEXIGLAS® does not show traces of wear and offers a long-lasting high-quality appearance. High-gloss surfaces appear particularly elegant. Moreover, PLEXIGLAS® enables an impressive depth effect thanks to its transparency.


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