Owns Amazon Wayfair

The expert for the online furniture trade Pierre Haarfeld speaks about the IPO of Home24 and the opportunities of Amazon in the e-commerce segment.

Pierre Haarfeld is the founder of the consulting company Digital Apartment. At the Etribes expert network, he is responsible for the Home & Living area. In the interview, the expert explains his view of the development of the pure players in the segment and talks about the potential Amazon and Otto have in the online furniture trade.

Home24 was received quite favorably on the stock exchange. Is this consideration justified?

Pierre Haarfeld: From my point of view, it is still the belief in the full-range furniture business model that justifies the consideration. In America, Wayfair sprints from stock high to stock high. Providers like Made.com are also growing very strongly at the moment. In addition, the timing was just right: Competitors like Wayfair are not yet strong enough from the outside world. Other international providers such as Overstock.com are not yet active on the European market. It will be exciting to see how the Home24 share price will develop when the holding periods of the previous investors have expired. The investors who invested before the IPO had to contractually commit themselves to a period of at least six months. Let's see if and how many Home24 sales will take place in six months ...

Will Home24's IPO now give the entire online furniture industry a boost?

Pierre Haarfeld: I see it the other way around: The online furniture market is growing very fast and that is why Home24 can even dare to go public despite the difficult situation. Even Ikea has recently seen stronger growth. The Home24 management team has also proven in the last two years that they were able to initiate the turnaround. You now have the means to keep up with the investments of the relevant furniture mail order companies such as Otto, Ikea and Wayfair. The providers mentioned are all currently investing massively in their logistics structure, product presentations and service portfolio. Home24's competitive advantage in online marketing is becoming less relevant as the other competitors have now caught up. Now it's about who wins the race in logistics and goods availability. So the question arises as to whether Home24 will manage to use the 150 million euros collected as efficiently as possible.

Otto is the sales champion in the German online furniture trade. Is there still a lot of the old catalog business or does Otto do a lot better online than the competition?

Pierre Haarfeld: The catalog business no longer plays a relevant role at Otto.de. The people of Hamburg are doing a lot right: They have very good and successful own brands such as "Guido Maria Kretschmar Home". With the group subsidiary Hermes-2-Mann-Handling, Otto also has a logistics specialist who is highly valued in the industry. In addition, many manufacturers who are afraid of working with other online users consciously rely on Otto.de. As a result, many brands are only available on Otto.de and not from other online furniture dealers.

How important is Amazon in the online furniture segment?

Pierre Haarfeld: With this question it is worth taking a look at America. Amazon has already set up five large logistics centers for furniture there. And even more exciting: Amazon now even delivers the furniture in America with its own two-man logistics. In Germany, Amazon is currently estimated at EUR 500 million in furniture sales. Should Amazon soon also offer its own furniture logistics in Germany, this could become a game changer, since the logistics resources in this country are completely exhausted.

And what perspectives can the stationary ones be expected to have in the online segment?

Pierre Haarfeld: As long as Höffner, Lutz and Co. invest their resources primarily in the stationary predatory competition, very little can be expected from these players. For comparison: The investments for the new Segmüller house in Pulheim were 150 million euros - for one house! It is currently expected that another 700,000 square meters of exhibition space will be added in Germany in the next few years. The financial resources flow into these measures and the renovation of the old areas. Only in the discount area are the stationary providers with Poco, Scooter and Möbel-Boss also strongly represented in the online segment.