Despite gripping economic hardships Zimbabweans still need to invest in their homes. Interior décor, arts & crafts, furniture and appliances are businesses that still have a strong market in Zimbabwe provided you update your business model to not only the Zimbabwean situation but the trends in modern business. Here are some great ideas for the furniture business in Zimbabwe.
With plenty of manufacturers out there as well as the box suppliers available from places like China and South Africa you will have plenty of options for suppliers. This is where supply chain management becomes important. Ultimately your customers will associate the end product with you and you cannot afford to bear the weight of poor manufacturing. A local manufacturer is preferable in this regard because you can get involved in the manufacturing process.
You have many choices in terms of the offer. With locally manufactured products you can offer customization and this will win you a lot of customers. If you are going for imported ready-made furniture you must also strive to offer unique and perhaps provocative furniture options. What is uniquely desirable is determined by your market and researching them.
Showroom and/or website
Goods such as furniture are very important because they ultimately turn a home into a house. So the approach to selling your products must offer prospects an idea of what the product will look like in a house. Having a true to life showroom will assist in showing your prospects the products in use. Show the object with all the trimmings and accessories. A good web portal such as a website or content capable social media like a Facebook page will allow you to display your products online. Use the same principle as the showroom though, give prospects a feel of the product in use.
As an important purchase, it is vital to realize the sales process required for the furniture business must be customized. It is very rare for a customer to buy a furniture item upon the first sight of it. In Europe, the average customer makes 3 store visits before buying. In the East, that number goes up to 5 times. Understand that you will rarely make a sale the first time you see a customer. This does not mean you should not entertain first-time prospects but know to assist them in the process in the early stages and understand their information needs. Take their numbers, phone calls may be a little expensive but ask if they have WhatsApp and are willing to receive updates on new stock or deals on the item they were looking at. Keep good records. Small tweaks like this can be the difference between success and failure at selling. An adept salesperson can also do very well at selling the accessories for the furniture as well.
There are 3 popular payment methods; cash, lay buy and hire purchase. Cash is pretty straightforward, lay buy is prepayment for the item with ownership exchanging hands once payment is complete and hire-purchase is a credit agreement with ownership changing hands at the commencement of the agreement. The payment methods are governed by laws that must be adhered to so seek legal advice on understanding your rights and responsibilities in payment methods such as lay buy and hire purchase.
Furniture tends to either be bulky or may require assembly. If you’ve ever assembled any boxed furniture you will attest that it is not a job for ordinary people. So in addition to offering delivery (at a fee of course) consider offering assembly as well.
The management of inventory will also play a big part in this business. Not so much from a complexity perspective but from a working capital perspective. At any given time you will have money tied up in inventory and this could be quite a lot depending on your supply chain, proximity and payment arrangements with the suppliers. So it is essential to always be on top of your inventory positions and have an analytical eye as to what moves and what doesn’t. This is only compounded by the Zimbabwean situation and perhaps selling in foreign currency is the best way to avoid trouble going forward in the case of payment arrangements such as lay buy and hire purchase.
General principles such as business registration should also be applied as well as ideas around branding and marketing. Incorporating new trends and understanding into existing ideas will give you the edge. The critical keys mentioned in these articles are the areas where you have the room to manoeuvre as carve out a competitive edge.