You’ve navigated the endless challenges of the pandemic, from rising prices to self-guided tours of models, and signed on the dotted line to ensure that perfect next home is yours. Problem is, now you have to furnish the place. It turns out the normally-hassle-free process of finding sofas, tables, chairs and beds is equally problem-plagued by issues associated with Covid and the aftermath of the health crisis.

Companies working to ensure homes are nicely furnished know these hurdles all too well. Here’s how they’re steering through the perilous winds of a supply chain tsunami.

“The constraint on furniture supply chains isn’t just inconveniencing consumers, it’s asking them to put their lives on hold,” says Alex Ryden, founder and CEO of Guest House, a company that touts its ability to simplify staging homeowners’ current homes and furnishing their next ones. “We’re working to solve this at the point of sale. When someone purchases a home that we’ve staged, all the furnishings can come with it too. Rather than wait on months of lead times for items to arrive, new homeowners can move in, work from home, host dinner parties and start living in their space[s] from day one. As a result, we’ve seen 500% growth in furniture sales from day one.”

Evolving collaboration

From the management suite at a company called Fernish, supply chain obstacles initially appeared highly problematic, as well as unprecedented. So says Kristin Smith, president of the DTC furniture and décor rental service helping spaces morph into homes. Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, manufacturers have closed plants and trimmed capacity, and trucking firms have been hammered with ever-greater labor shortages. These and other issues led to headaches from delays, reduced supply, component shortages and manufacturing and capacity shortages, Smith says.

All of these woes meant the company had to further polish its already well-honed communication channels to, and partnerships with, its critical vendors. “As supply chain disruptions persisted, we not only increased the frequency, but [also] evolved the ways we collaborated with our partners,” Smith recalls.

“We added alternative products, provided partners with longer-range forecasts, shifted our sourcing plans up and down the value chain [by] adding new partners and built new ways for customers to interact with us, [for instance, by] offering back-ordered products, communicating lead times . . . We also started designing our own upholstered furniture lines with supply chain and strategic partners, giving us more control and transparency in our supply chain. And we did so domestically so that we could simplify the logistics and eliminate several sources of uncertainty and delay.”

Not surprising

Reham Fagiri, co-founder and CEO of AptDeco, reports the trends of the past two years within the furniture industry as a whole should come as no great shock to observers. Demand for home furniture has soared since March 2020. Alongside have arrived hikes in cost of materials used in making furniture. These headwinds, along with inventory shortages and months-long shipping delays, make for a great many unhappy customers, says Fagin, whose company offers a safe and efficient way for its customers to sell and buy furniture and home décor items online.

How has the company been able to triumph? Its inventory consists of items already available and in market, with new items being introduced each day.

“We have the unique ability to always have pieces available and ready to be delivered as soon as they’re sold,” Fagiri says. “We’re able to offer a significantly shorter delivery time frame, which is a game changer for customers whose only other options are big retailers offering timelines of six to eight weeks or more – at the earliest.”

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