United Stationers
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Overview
Furniture Strategy Development:

The Furniture Market is larger than most think. United Stationers Supply Co. has conducted end user market research as well as accumulated a wide array of existing research and analyst reports. We estimate the retail market size of commercial business furniture in excess of $30B, significantly larger that what BPIA and BIFMA estimate the market to be. Of the $30B we believe 75% to be mid-market grade product for both the business and home office.

Factors that will affect the market in the future and be driving influences:
  • Ergonomics and its effect on both safety and productivity.
  • Changing nature of work demanding increased flexibility and modularity.
  • Increasing use of commercial grade RTA product and desking systems.
  • Mid-Market furniture has increased in capability and quality and provides an increasingly attractive value proposition to the end user.

United Stationers Supply Co. has made furniture one of its major growth targets.

Distribution and Logistics:

As furniture becomes an increasingly important product and sales category for United Stationers Supply Co. there will be a major focus on quality improvement. Hon and United have conducted many RCI exercises in 1999 and will conduct more in 2000. This exercise is a weeklong joint process analysis on how both companies manage and handle furniture quality. We have produced a manual of findings that will continue to evolve and have made these findings part of our best practices strategy (MADDOG) that will be implemented over the coming months to continue to improve the quality of how we handle furniture.

Training is also a focus of best practices. The Field Support Center logistics group has worked with our manufacturers to develop a CD-ROM based furniture handling training program that we will be using with our warehouse staff that is involved with furniture. We will be additionally focusing on training company and contracted delivery drivers on the proper way to handle furniture.

Underway is the development of an enhanced Furniture Set Up and Delivery program as well as a data base approach to quickly answer what we do, where we do it and how much will it cost. This system should be available for testing in early Y2000.

Sales:

In order to serve both the office products and furniture resellers better we have started the development of a group of furniture account managers across the country. These furniture specialists will be involved with training our existing office products sales group to better understand the furniture industry and market as well as be available to call on those people that have made an investment to sell furniture or are in the business of only selling furniture. This group of sales specialists will be able to help the furniture community build a better mid-market furniture strategy while having an understanding of their core business.

Customer Service:

As our furniture business has grown and will continue to grow we will be building special furniture teams within our call centers. These teams will be trained to have appropriate product knowledge and to be more capable of helping with any and all issues related to the furniture business.

Quoting on large orders, helping with bids, etc. will be part of their capability. We have developed a new product quoting system to aid in this important area of the business. Other systems enhancements relate to a new Furniture Set Up and Delivery System are being developed as well as the ability to electronically track these orders. To date we have standardized on the processes within our call centers for handling this business as well as how the order is entered in our order entry system and handled by our logistics people. Look for news on more enhancements in the future.

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