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Austrian Prefab House Market Shows Slight Improvements in Online Enquiries

The annual online mystery shopping test conducted by Interconnection Consulting in the Austrian prefabricated house market shows that the potential for lead generation is far from being fully exploited by companies. However, this year’s test shows that the manufacturers were able to achieve improvements in service in some areas. The study analysed the response of 70 prefabricated house manufacturers.

One Third of Manufacturers Do Not React at First

The prefabricated house manufacturers were contacted by e-mail regarding a specific concern about a building project. In addition, four construction-specific questions were formulated. Compared to the mystery shopping test last year, an improvement of the online customer service can be seen in some areas. About three quarters of the traders (78.2%) responded to the enquiry during the first online contact, which is an improvement on the 65.3% last year. After a reminder email and  telephone contact, the proportion of manufacturer response increased to 97.1% and was thus significantly higher than in the previous year. However, the test also revealed some negative developments. For example, the willingness to respond to the questions asked fell from around 80% to 64.3% compared to the previous year.

Closing Weakness on the Rise

Manufacturers are choosing different strategies to close the deal. Despite the pandemic, almost two-thirds still prefer a face-to-face meeting. Slightly less than a quarter would like to have a telephone conversation. Compared to neighbouring Germany, Austria still has some difficulty using video calls as a means of closing deals.  Only 12.3% suggest this option. Furthermore, the mystery shopping test shows that the potential in online customer service is far from being fully exhausted. “Especially when it comes to closing a deal, only few manufacturers really make an effort”, explains Panorea Kaskani, the author of the study. To make matters worse, manufacturers are following up less than last year.

Speed Not Yet Everywhere

The average response time to email enquiries did improve compared to last year, and reached 2.4 days. 61.8% of manufacturers comply with the golden internet rule: “Reply in 24h”. Furthermore, one in five manufacturers did not respond to the four questions asked. Kaskani explains the importance of quality in answering questions as follows: “Especially risk-averse prospects, who form a large customer segment, are lost due to unsatisfactory answers to the questions”. The potential for lead generation is thus far from fully exhausted by companies.

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Following Corona Blues, Office Furniture Market to Grow by Double-Digits in 2021 and Focus on Innovation

The office furniture market in Western Europe will make up for some of the pandemic setback in 2021 with an expected growth of 16.5%. However, it will take at least another two years to reach pre-crisis levels, according to a study by Interconnection Consulting.

The office furniture market has been hit harder by the crisis than many other sectors. Lockdown, the governments’ home office offensive and the accompanying reduction of permanent office workplaces has led to uncertainty in the market. Explaining the declines that have taken place on both the demand and supply side, Julia Tarasenko states: „In addition, the issues in the supply chains starting with the delay in the delivery of raw material to the limited number of factory workers in the production process, have led to a sharp decline in productivity in the industry,”. For example, the office furniture market in Western Europe will lose almost a quarter (-23.7%) of last year’s turnover this year. Of all the markets surveyed, the United Kingdom will be hardest hit in 2020, with a drop of 26.2%.

Health Aspects En Vogue

Nevertheless, the crisis also offers opportunities, as the study shows. For example, the market shares of partition walls or sub-systems for open-plan offices have increased. In general, the trend is back to more privacy in the office, explains Tarasenko, with corresponding innovations on the market. The trend towards ergonomic furniture will also continue to grow in order to help reduce stress, prevent muscle injuries and increase physical well-being. For example, a backless saddle-shaped office stool designed to prevent the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle was presented at the Stockholm Office Furniture Fair. The dominance of the seating segment is also reflected in the market shares, where seating solutions make up almost half of the entire office sector, at almost 44 percent.

Furthermore, the increase of smart office solutions on the market can be observed, such as height-adjustable standing desks via Bluetooth. In addition, market consolidation can be seen as an opportunity, such as with increased M&A activity in the market. Interconnection’s study on the office furniture market examines the markets of Germany, Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Finland.

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Leading Companies trust in Interconnection Consulting

Admonter

At the IC Impulsworkhop "Sales Optimization" we appreciate not only the practical relevance, but also the eloquent language and the perfect rhetoric. The most important benefit for our company was the sales pipeline. Adrian Capellarie (Head of Sales Admonter Holzindustrie)

Deutscher Holzfertigbau Verband

Interconnection provides us with the prefabricated house study a plausible and veritable data basis for the analysis of the actual situation in the prefabricated house market and beyond for the assessment of the future market development. We are happy to use this interpreted data for our lobbying and everyday work.

Thomas Schäfer (Managing Director, Deutscher Holzfertigbau-Verband)

ELK

The prefabricated housing study by Interconnection Consulting shows a real picture of the actual market situation and forms a valuable basis for our strategic decisions.

Gerhard Schuller (CFO ELK)

Epson

EPSON is satisfied with the Interconnection's way of communication with the market and with clients. EPSON is also appriciate the Interconnection's continuous work trying to aim the report to be at the higher level. As a result, EPSON rely on Interconnection data, for the market of POS Printers and Systems.

T.Murakami (Brand Management, Seiko Epson Corporation)

Gaulhofer

I appreciate on the forum "Impulsworkshop Vertriebsoptimierung" the practical relevance of Peter Berger linked with his practical examples. I also liked the sovereign presentation style. The most important benefit was for me, on the one hand refresh of methods and also the sales management tools that were shown. Ing. Dietmar Hammer (Head of Product Management Gaulhofer)

Kontron

The most important benefit of the Impulsworkshop "sales optimization" was in my view the procedure of the definition of strengths and the entire sales process. Mr. Berger is very competent and professional. Fabian Freund (Sales Manager, Kontron Austria)

Österreichs Personaldienstleister

The sales management tool ZAIS has become indispensable for many Austrian temporary staffing providers for fast and correct sales management decisions. A tailor-made online cockpit provides comprehensive monthly figures and data on temporary work and the labor market in Austria, while at the same time impressing with its overview and intuitive user guidance. Interconnection Consulting has consider individually to all user needs during development process and also convinces with fast response times during operation.

Dr. Gertraud Höltl (Generalsekretärin Österreichs Personal Dienstleister)

Saint Gobain

Long experience and deep understanding of the construciton industry markets make up the quality of the IC studies. Interconnection Consulting is a constant companion concerning the assessment of markets and helpful for decision-making.

Bernd Blümmers (Directeur General, Saint-Gobain Solar Systems, Central Europe, Aachen)

Salamander

Interconnection Consulting reports deliver a worthfull external perspective and are so a good contrast with regards to our internal market point of views.

Pedro Posada (CEO Salamander Industrial Products Spain)

Scandinavian Business Seating

The IC Report gives a very good overview of the Western European office furniture market, in a well-structured way. The data is helpful to better understand the market developments and drivers.

Beatrice Sotelo (Director Business Development , Scandinavian Business Seating)

Schneider Electric

Under a short time constraint, Interconnection was able to deliver an outstanding study that exceeded my expectation in terms of quality and market breadth. I highly recommend Interconnection to anyone in need of market research.

Jeff Canterberry (Director of Strategy and M&A, Schneider Electric)

Sodexo

When developing new market strategies, Interconnection is a trusted source we always come back to. Christian Frey (Marketing Manager CS DACH)

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