The Covid-19 emergency and the subsequent lockdown have profoundly changed the habits of all of us, from individuals to businesses, from institutions to commerce. Many people are aware that it will be difficult to return to “normality“, to that pre-Covid situation, which for years has reassured us in its consolidated ways, but we will have to think of a New Normal, a new reality that will lead to significant changes in the world of work, business and individual behaviour that will in turn change our lifestyles.
Digital: a new opportunity for companies
An interesting study by Nielsen, published by Il Sole 24 Ore, reveals the impact of the pandemic and lockdown on digital phenomena and highlights how the transformation underway makes it necessary for companies to be present in an advanced and authoritative way on the Internet and social media.
It also highlights the fact that these digital phenomena “already existed under the radar, but for various reasons in our country were still lagging behind in development or in the full expression of their full potential“.
The backwardness of our country with regard to digitisation is confirmed by the latest data from DESI (Index of digitisation of the economy and society) recently published by the EU Commission, which places Italy in third place among the 28 EU Member States with a score of 43.6 (compared to the EU figure of 52.6) with a growing gap compared to France, Germany and Spain.
In Italy, however, the pandemic has led to a strong acceleration towards digital, and people's very approach to digital has changed. For this very reason, companies must seize this important change as a challenge, an opportunity to innovate their business and production system.
Using new digital channels
It must be acknowledged that, during the Covid-19 emergency, many companies embraced with great enthusiasm and professionalism the opportunities provided by digital to continue working, to have contact with customers and to present their products.
First of all, most companies, responding to the measures adopted by the Government for the containment and management of the epidemiological emergency provided for by the decree of 23 February 2020, were forced to adopt Smart Working or Agile Work for their workers, discovering that it was not such a negative solution; confirming that often the big changes are driven by necessity.
According to data from the Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano, Smart Working, before Coronavirus, was only marginally used by our companies, namely by 58% of large companies, 12% of SMEs and 16% of PA. With the arrival of the Covid-19 and the consequent lockdown in a few weeks the number of “smart“ workers increased from 570,000 in 2019 to 8 million.
The lack of the Salone del Mobile in Milan and other international trade fairs has certainly pushed companies to find digital answers as a valid alternative for their activities.
In fact, in recent months there have been numerous digital initiatives on the part of companies, particularly those in the furniture sector:
Molteni &C, the leading industrial group in the high-end furniture sector, has digitalised processes through various digital touch points and in support of the sales network;
Lago, one of the leading Made in Italy furniture companies, has activated a digital community for shops and customers;
Quagliotti, an Italian weaving mill that exports the quality of its packaging all over the world, opens its digital sartorial boutique in September;
Listone Giordano, a worldwide reference brand in the high-end wood flooring sector, has completely renewed its website making it a real digital channel able to improve the user experience;
Laminam, a leading company in the global market of large size ceramic slabs, has chosen to present its new surfaces in live streaming;
igus, a company specialising in motion plastics, illustrated over 100 new products at a virtual trade fair.
Furnishing Idea: an effective springboard for the web business
Also our Furnishing Idea portal has thought of proposing to the “orphan“ companies of Sicam, the unmissable appointment in October for the sector of components, semi-finished products and accessories for the furniture industry, new opportunities to meet, benefiting from the new digital communication tools, services designed to reach a targeted clientele. In fact, this year the video interviews, which took place every year during the event in Pordenone, will be conducted in an innovative way, through the use of specific software for video interviews. These will allow companies to show not only the new products, but also the different production phases, the company's internal showrooms and transmit to their customers and potential customers the strong points that have always determined the success of Made in Italy. The Furnishing Idea portal has always offered excellent services for companies in the sector that operate in the production and marketing of components, semi-finished products and accessories for the furniture industry, guaranteeing, through innovative tools, to effectively reach their target.
The increase in e-commerce in recent months deserves a separate mention. Last year only 10% of Italian companies sold their products online and only 44% of Italians bought on the web compared to 68% of Europeans. During the lockdown, this picture changed dramatically: according to ISTAT data, e-commerce grew by 20% in March compared to March last year, by 28.2% in April and accelerated further in Phase 2, recording a 41.7% jump in May. And e-commerce forecasts for 2020 predict an overall balance of between 35% and 40% compared to 2019.
At the recent Design Summit Pambianco Interni, Gianluca Mollura, CEO and founder of Mohd, the leading Italian e-commerce platform in the world of luxury furniture and design, analysed from his privileged observatory how the health crisis has led to an acceleration of e-commerce also in the furniture world, especially for companies that offer customers a wide range of cross-cutting elements and products. Nevertheless, the perfect balance is always given by multi-channel and the ability to offer relevant services and shopping experiences. In the long term, Mollura forecasts further growth in e-commerce: “the consumer will make more and more purchases online, even in the high-end segment. Already today, the choice of product is often made online, even if the purchase is sometimes made directly in the shop. However, the design consumer has less and less time and desire to go to the shop and is therefore becoming more familiar with online shopping. This service must be guaranteed or else you will lose customers.
These are the challenges that companies have to face: in this way the crisis caused by the Covid-19 can become an opportunity, an important opportunity to start a strategic innovation not to be wasted.