The Covid-19 pandemic transformed how industries across the board operate, and some of those changes are here to stay. Most notably, e-commerce has become the primary channel for B2B transactions in sectors of the home & garden industry, among others. As the pandemic shut down traditional sales channels for B2B brands in 2020, the value of digital transactions grew 9.6% to reach $9.92 trillion, according to Digital Commerce 360. The home industry saw major demand during the pandemic, in large part because of the increased amount of time consumers spent at home, with many redecorating to build more comfortable living spaces or creating home offices.
Three standout trends emerged during the pandemic:
- Home offices. As more consumers have transitioned to working from home, home office furniture sales have increased significantly.
- Redecorating. Home decor has been a booming industry, according to Alibaba.com insights.
- Home improvement. Dollar sales in the home improvement industry grew 22% in 2020, according to NPD Research. And home hardware sales have been up as consumers at home worked on home improvement projects. This includes “smart” home devices.
Despite the increase in demand, the home industry also experienced pain points introduced by the pandemic, with increased prices of raw materials and significant supply chain disruptions and delays. What happens next for businesses that suddenly found themselves surging and for those that are in recovery will depend on how fully and rapidly they embrace e-commerce and digital channels.
How the B2B E-commerce Boom has Changed the Game
Once nice to have, e-commerce is now a must-have, offering businesses access to more markets and global supply, greater operational flexibility, and the resilience to survive and thrive during challenging times.
Of course, it hasn’t always been this way. B2B companies have traditionally relied on building supplier relationships face-to-face at trade shows, factories and offices. When the pandemic restricted travel, buyers and sellers were forced to tap into the value of digital tools. Now, 93 percent of U.S. companies are doing some portion of their B2B business online, and 43 percent are using e-commerce, according to an Alibaba.com study.
Digital capabilities made all the difference for many businesses last year, serving as a lifeline as they were tasked with rapidly adapting to new and unprecedented social distancing norms. Going digital helped businesses across the country reimagine their operating models overnight, reach new customers and mitigate interruptions by diversifying their supply chains and reaching a global supplier base. Not only that, but shifting to digital has also given businesses key data and insights into consumer habits and needs.
The furniture industry is no exception with e-commerce driving the market forward as millions of consumers shift from shopping in-store to online. Going forward, one thing is clear: e-commerce is here to stay.
Why Home and Furniture Companies Put Their Trust in Alibaba.com
As one of the world’s largest B2B and wholesale online marketplaces, Alibaba.com serves millions of business buyers and suppliers of all sizes across more than 200 countries and regions, offering a suite of powerful tools built specifically for B2B trade. Business buyers can discover new products and place orders on the Alibaba.com platform fast, securely, and efficiently and sellers can reach a global audience for their products. With Alibaba.com, companies can:
- Expand its international footprint. The inherently global nature of Alibaba.com’s supply allows buyers—retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, and service businesses– to grow their reach digitally without the need to travel. Time zones become unimportant, allowing business discovery and communication 24/7. According to Alibaba.com’s survey, the top benefits of online sourcing cited by buyers include finding suppliers more quickly (53%), reducing the need for travel (44%), greater purchasing power (38%), and higher profit margins (38%).
- Optimize shipping efficiencies. Buyers can place large orders with international sellers to take advantage of transparent, reliable, and cost-effective shipping and logistics services, simplifying the entire process. Intelligent algorithms recommend the best routes, and multiple freight forwarders and carriers are available to ensure end-to-end transparency and real-time tracking.
- Source securely from around the world. com supports over ten major global payment methods and 50+ currencies worldwide. To reduce the risk of global trade, buyers who purchase on the Alibaba.com platform can use the free proprietary order protection escrow service, Trade Assurance. Through Alibaba.com Trade Assurance, if anything goes wrong such as issues with quality or shipping delays, Alibaba.com will assist in reaching a satisfactory outcome, including getting your money back.
- Access to trusted suppliers. To help buyers source efficiently and screen for quality, the “verified” logo will appear alongside professional suppliers that have been verified by independent third parties for industry-specific qualifications and services. When searching for product details or through company profiles, buyers can see these suppliers’ strengths like corporate qualification, product qualification, and corporate capabilities.
To make it even easier, Alibaba.com recently launched an always on Elite Partner Event where buyers can find high-quality products and suppliers in one place. This vetted group of global suppliers features innovative, new technologies and products in a variety of categories to help enhance your competitive edge.
One Elite Partner is LINSY Home Furniture, founded in 2007, a modern home furniture company specializing in luxury designs and quality production. The company has served over 13 million households through their more than 13,000 SKUs and custom capabilities. But what sets LINSY apart as a supplier is not just their in-demand designs, it is their commitment to digital transformation. Accurate data analysis of market demand, efficient independent R&D as well as fast, accurate production are LINSY’s key competitive features. On average, more than 200 new products are developed every month. Beyond analysis, design, production and management, LINSY also helps create marketing solutions for their buyers. For example, LINSY recently worked with a large British buyer to supply high-quality modern designed couches but also create promotional materials for them. Due to these technology-enabled promotional materials, the product sold very quickly. Now, LINSY and the British buyer have jointly designed new couches and expanded the buyer’s warehouse to keep up with fulfillment. One of the main reasons LINSY was selected to be an Elite Partner is due to their use of promotional technology like 3D, panoramic videos, and live broadcasts to upgrade the furniture consumption experience – this allows buyers to visualize product performance and spatial layout without leaving their homes.
Other Elite Partners are chosen for their pledge to eco-friendly or natural products like Rena Pet. Rena Pet, founded in 2008, specializes in creating all-natural, non-toxic pet accessories to add to your home like dog beds, cat scratchers, toys, and feeders. Their high-quality products are treated to decrease toxins and made with natural materials like hemp and recycled wood to better serve the environment. By producing healthy, natural, and eco-friendly products, Rena Pet creates products that are safe for your home. For example, with their use of photocatalytic materials, users can disassemble organic substances like odor, bacteria and viruses under sunlight making them safer for your pets and family members.
Alibaba.com Summer Online Trade Show: Premium Suppliers. Efficient Sourcing.
Trade shows have been an incredibly valuable channel for B2B businesses to discover new suppliers and products and drive their bottom line. While in-person global shows are still on hold, Alibaba.com has been hosting a series of online trade shows that have resulted in tens of thousands of new connections. Alibaba.com Online Trade Show | Summer will be starting June 14 and lasting through June 27, and will feature more than 10,000 premium suppliers across a spectrum of 30-plus categories.
“The Alibaba.com Summer Online Trade Show is a two-week event on the Alibaba.com website, where business buyers and sellers from around the globe can meet and do business with one another from the safety and convenience of their homes and offices,” said John Caplan, President of North America and Europe, Alibaba.com. “Our new Online Trade Show experience that makes it even easier for professional business buyers to connect and collaborate with premium suppliers, so that they can source more efficiently, effectively, and with ease.”
Benefits of the experience will include:
- Premium connections. Buyers can easily reach out to selected suppliers with outstanding products and services, from R&D and tailor-made design to customer service and order fulfillment.
- Pro Buyer Discounts. Businesses who have upgraded to Pro Buyers on or before June 27 can receive a $100 coupon to use on Alibaba.com.
- Exclusive VIP pavilion access. For the most efficient experience possible, there will be a dedicated “VIP Pavilion” where the top one percent of Alibaba.com buyers can meet and negotiate directly with managers rated four stars and above from more than 1,000 suppliers.
- Cutting-edge industry insights. Businesses will be able to hear from Alibaba.com leaders like John Caplan, President, North America & Europe, and Flora Yan, Head of Integrated Marketing as well as Dirk Kowslowski, Director of IFA, Kai Hattendorf, CEO of Ufi and learn from successful buyers and sellers on Alibaba.com during the trade show opening ceremony. In-depth industrial reports filled with data and trends from Alibaba.com will also be available.
Attend the Show
Businesses in the Home and Furniture industry can attend Alibaba.com’s Online Trade Show, June 14 through 27, here. High-quality suppliers are just a click away.