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Singapore Furniture Outlook 2014: The Way Forward

Singapore Furniture Industries Council’s Annual Furniture Industry Survey 2013-14 offers a proposal for future growth.

Singapore Furniture Outlook 2014: The Way Forward

The furniture industry in Singapore has shown remarkable resilience and adaptability throughout the years. As a small country, it is an impressive feat to continue to find such significant levels of furniture-related economic activities present.

Amidst strong headwinds to further development, most industry players have adapted and sought solutions through internationalisation or mechanisation. However, the future poses stronger challenges and calls for greater innovation and adaptation to happen as we progress towards a new frontier.

The advent of Ecommerce, the rise of the informed customer, big data analytics and 3D printing are the forces that furniture businesses will have to contend with as we march further into the new millennium. Moreover, although the furniture business has traditionally been a conservative one, the free capital markets are looking for a radical shift in the business’s paradigm. To ensure the continued growth and dynamism of the Singapore furniture industry, it is integral that the industry stays true to the three important pillars to sustainable growth:

Industry businesses are urged to think deeper upon these key pillars.

1. Improve – Productivity measures have revealed that the industry still trails international champions in these measures. Singapore firms do still have room to further strengthen and enhance their existing capabilities. Particularly among the smaller furniture businesses, wider and greater accessibility to grants that allows further automation in their operations would be greatly beneficial. That said, companies must not become dependent upon grants, and should independently and aggressively seek ways to improve their current capabilities.

2. Integrate – Complexity is a silent killer of growth. It is notable that Singapore furniture businesses are increasingly diverse and complex, cutting across segments from design to manufacturing instead of confining themselves to a single segment. There is therefore a continuous need for businesses to review all aspects of their operations internally to discover where improvements could be made and where simplicity may in fact enhance efficiency.

3. Innovate – The industry is becoming ever more cost competitive. Forecasted potential of the industry domestically is increasingly limited. There is a pressing need for industry players to evaluate more innovative strategies in their approach to the markets. We are already witnessing some encouraging sparks of creativity amongst the local players, and other businesses in the sector will have to look to do the same. For example, KODA and Commune Lifestyle have leapt across industry boundaries by merging furniture retailing with Singapore’s prominent cafe culture. As long as industry players can hold steadfast to these three pillars, we foresee a better furniture industry in the next few years. Companies engaging further into business design thinking, branding and marketing and business process improvement and holding strong to the principles of the ‘3i Strategic Framework’ will be able to navigate the headwinds of change and challenge.

Excerpt from Singapore Furniture Outlook 2014, spearheaded by Singapore Furniture Industries Council and SPRING Singapore.

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