We all know, selling decorative veneer is not just price based selling, instead it is an art. It is a belief in nature and a package of class, satisfaction and status, you choose to create around you. This article is an honest effort of the Ply Reporter to update those plywood-laminate counters who believe that decorative veneer is not for them. In fact, the article allows you to narrow down your though process towards clarity and the eagerness to take the next step forward. The article is prepared based on the observations made by Reporter’s team on the ongoing practices in different markets.
We felt the need to highlight the core facts behind selling and presenting decorative veneers at retailers place today. The concept of decorative wood veneer is very strong in West and South India compared to Northern India. The Ply Reporter team worked on finding the purpose that “why and what shall be the real motive of a dealer to sell wood veneers” and highlight the fact behind why a customer may like to purchase and use natural veneers instead of decorative laminates.
If a dealer wish to rise high, and has passion to grow and make money. He cannot be away from selling decorative veneer.
To do interior and woodwork, designers plan the application area according to customer preference and design theme. It is proven that in our various surveys conducted on time to time that decorative veneer has no competition with any material. It is an inspirational item for customers and limitless beauty experimentation material for architects. Hence any brand or company who claim to be a surfacing expert company has to enter in decorative veneer and if they are not that means they are leaving the most precious and pride segment of customers and architects.
The same applies to a plywood dealer who may be selling a large volume or monthly sales of over 50 lakh but if he is not selling wood veneers then, he is missing to be in a league to retail businessmen who cater to the prestigious architects and top-class clientele in the country.
According to our group magazines (‘The Ply Reporter’ and ‘Surfaces’ that caters to architects and designers and FDT (Furniture Design & Technology) that caters to OEM and Furniture makers and sellers have a combined survey on “Need and Demand pattern of Surface Materials in India’ on each of the related customer segment”. We received inputs on possibility that offer a huge growth opportunity for retailing in the field of decorative veneers. The insight that lead us to publish this article here has forced to write this article as a suggestive story to insist the wood panel retailers for selling decorative wood veneer.
The Present Practice;
In present practice, furniture is a combination of design, Panels & plywood, fittings and at last wood veneers or laminate followed by Edge finishing. Decorative wood veneers are one of most trusted and admired surface decorative material across the globe. No matter how beautiful a concept is, the eternal and evergreen soft feel is attributed by decorative wood veneers and this fact is agreed upon by many architects or designers or the customers.
In areas like the reception, lobby, bungalows, boardrooms or hotels, the use of solid wood likely to get cracks due to fluctuation factor in Indian weather condition and the cost is too high. The choice does not leave many options other than decorative veneer. A wood decorative veneer is glued over ply or MDF and that is a solution which is beautiful, exotic and cost effective and that is why architects are always using decorative veneers because this makes the whole space in to a unique, exotic and natural habitation.
If a dealer has passion to grow and make money, he cannot be away from selling decorative veneer, says 80 percent of the showroom owners who sell decorative products.
The OEMs express that We use wood veneer because it gives tremendous flexibility and design options along with durability and value for money.
What Is so Special in Veneers?
Wood looks so beautiful because many of its species take hundreds of years to reach to the stage of forming grains. The color and density of wood grains change depending on the climate and soil of the place where it is growing. This is the reason why most of the decorative wood species marked ‘exotic’ become expensive.
Decorative Laminates cannot match the touch, feel and ambience factor of decorative veneer hence any tasteful person will always choose high quality decorative veneer to have a unmatched experience of interiors. Whether retailer sells decorative veneers or not, depends on the plywood retailer’s interest and knowledge. But selling decorative veneers with full passion establish the level of client you have. It reflects whether you have flare for catering top class customers or not. “If a dealer has passion to grow and make money, he cannot be away
Reason to Enter Retailing Wood Veneers.
1. Less competition
2. Connect you to upper segment of consumers
3. Gives you courage to sell costly materials
4 Better margins
5. Increases stock holding capacity
6. Support sales of other panel materials
7. Opens way for many other décor items
8. Gives you better image& respect
from selling decorative veneer” says 80 percent of the showroom owners who sell decorative products.
Wood veneers make the interiors strong and stable, resistant to warping and cracking and this is why they are becoming popular amongst designers. It is impossible to get the same effects that can be obtained in veneer form with solid construction. Another benefit of using decorative veneers is the extensive range of colors and styles available after turning a wood block in to veneer.
Who Buys Decorative Veneers ?
Any good counter, who intends to sell decorative veneer, needs to identify the buyers and target them. The most likely buyers for decorative veneers are upper middle class homes, business establishments, big apartments, farm houses or any stand alone house or bungalows. In West and South India consumers are more aware and alert so they involve architects for their interior and civil work needs whereas in the East & North India, this practice is still in its nascent stage.
It is very clear that business driven or developed places or metro cities and hospitality oriented cities are most likely to be the lead consumers of Natural or premium wood veneers compared to developing cities, isolated districts or remote areas. The comparatively smaller or backward areas most often consume more of decorative laminates or cheaper versions of reconstituted veneers, teak or buy more of local made readymade furniture.
A retailer has to be aware of the fact that using veneers is a costly affair. There is an approximate cost of Rs 200 to 250 per sq feet for using natural decorative veneer till the final stage for veneer application on any furniture. This price is does not include the base furniture material or making cost. This price is certainly not going to feasible or affordable for most of the users or middle class.
The surveys show that middle class second home buyers use wood veneers in some areas where as upper middle class prefer to use natural veneers in most of the wood working applications. It is observed that 70 percent of the decorative veneer demand comes from 10 to 15 percent of the ply buyers. A majority of buyers from lower middle class category opt for decorative laminates, where as readymade furniture producers are bulk users of economical grade of teak, or reconstituted teak, walnut, oak, sapeli etc.
Start Veneer Retailing
1. Learn the types/design sense and wood species
2. Approach different companies to help you start with basics
3. Create a separate area of display
4. Maintain minimum inventory
5. Look for the upper middle segment consumers/designers/furniture makers
6. Approach them & invite them to your display area
7. Show your offerings with passion/knowledge/understanding
8. Keep adding new verities to your display with changing trends
The fact is that Kothis/stand alone houses or high end furniture producers or 3/4/5 star hotels or niche commercial establishments or premium public places are most likely to use wood veneers. For this they choose their supplier according to the approach of a company, vendor or availability and liking of the material.
Why Should a Retailer Sell Decorative Wood Veneers?
Today, there is competition everywhere. On an average, any city with a population of 10 lakh has more than 70 active shops of which about 7 shops keep or sell decorative veneers. In metro cities also, the sellers for decorative veneers are less. In the overall scheme of things, there is far less competition in decorative veneer compared to plywood or veneer. Retailing wood veneers offers fairly decent margin to a retailer along with a boost to the goodwill for the shop in that area. Selling veneer has also become a sensible choice for a retailer with growing purchasing power of the Indian consumer and his willingness to spend for exclusivity.
There cannot be anything more exclusive in a plywood shop than exotic species of wood veneer. In this age of high competition, exclusivity holds the key to margin and growth. Decent margin, goodwill & good clientele are the key advantages behind shop owners opting to promote retailing of natural wood veneers. Although there are equally bigger challenges when it comes to sell wood veneers, right from veneer selection, stocking, pricing, display and shop positioning in the clients of the city. But that is what provides a far bigger advantage to a shop and ultimately lead to profit.
The Difference Between Laminates and Natural Veneers –What the Retailers Should Know?
Comparing Decorative veneer and laminate is not really accepted by architects and designers and even producers. It is same like comparing a Natural marble with Ceramic tiles. Veneers are made from the trunk of a tree by slicing large rectangular blocks whereas decorative laminate is basically an image printed on paper. In Laminates the design choice is limitless, and that is why custom orders are also possible. But certainly laminates lack the visual warmth of wood. You may gauge the basic difference as a laminate is set by the manufacturer, as opposed to wood that can be sanded and re-stained in any color of the stain available.
When sunlight falls on laminate, they look dull while decorative veneers changes its look with natural light. Veneers are alive, they behave and live with you. They welcome you at any time. Laminates are completely different products and give an entirely different feel, warmth, richness, aroma and ambience. You cannot compare a photo with an original person says Veneer producers that is a very good quote for a Veneer Retailer.
How Should a Retailer Enter the Decorative Veneers Retailing?
First of all, decorative veneer selling is very different from other decorative item sold from a plywood counter. Primarily the retail person has to have some basic sense of selecting veneers from the stock of factory or warehousing facility. Group match, non group match, natural veneers, recons veneers, designer veneers and special effect bearing veneers etc are the segments on the basis of which a retailer can plan to choose his lot. The next most important learning or the skill is in showing the wood veneers to a customer or an interior designer.
The display of wood veneers in raw/non polished/polished or lacquered form is equally important depending on the area/region and class of clientele of the retail counter. Presently, veneers are showcased as 8x4 sheets and are shown one by one in the showrooms. It is almost impossible to select a designer veneer by seeing a printed photo or small sample. Most of the times a veneer contains variations in the same lot and hence seeing adequate number of veneers is required while selecting wood veneer A good retailer/stockiest can make use of decent camera through which a particular veneer image asked from the available lot can be shared online/ transferred to designers.
A plywood counter can enter retailing of Veneers by creating a proper display area for full size sheets where the required ceiling height is of 11 to 12 feet. The required display/stocking/selling area should be a minimum of 200 to 250 sq feet. The stockiest should maintain a limited number of species depending on the purchase/preference capacity of the area and promote it for six month to one year to gain the insight of clients’ preferences before expanding the inventory. Starting with a complete range of 50 to 100 designs can also be opted if the retailer has knowledge/confidence and passion to promote/sell such product. In fact selling decorative veneer is an art or a kind of concept.
Indian woodworking expertise is still being led by highly unskilled people. The lack of good knowledge/skill set in polishing is a big hurdle but at the same time offers a unique opportunity to a retailer because such knowledge holds enormous opportunities. A retailer should have or develop the knowledge about various finishes that a particular veneer can display when polished and should be able to show the same to the client.
Mr Ashok Chheda,
Space One Veneer,
Decorative veneer is the only option to earn good margin and money. The veneer buyers are primarily a different class of customers who does not really bargain or crib for small price difference rather they ask for the best quality and stock of what you have in offer for them. Selling 500 veneers to an architect or a customer gives you so much of accomplishment feeling that you do not by selling 5 trucks of plywood. It is way to live surrounding with a natural way.
Mr. Varun Raheja,
There is no match to the feeling of selling decorative veneers. It is a different segment and everyone cannot do it. If one think that he has a showroom space and the staff will be able to sell then he is wrong. Decorative Veneer is a pride selling and those who are not into it, will understand it only when they have passion for learning and desire to cater to high class.
Mr. Anand Heda,
HEDA PLYWOOD, BELAGAUM
In current cut throat competition scenario, selling plywood (branded or unbranded) is the most challenging task for any retailer. Margins are so low that at times we are unable to cover the overheads and end up making loses. With just selling plywood and other common allied products we are just part of a rat race. For a retailer to survive in such fierce competition, it is important that he should be constantly add value added products. I Believe selling decorative Veneer is a great value addition for any retailer. Selling natural wood veneers is an art which cannot be mastered by all, it requires in-depth study and knowledge of species and properties of wood.
ANAND HEDA’s KEY POINTS on Why a retailer should sell veneer
1. EXCLUSIVITY; Being a natural product it is difficult to get the exact same veneer at your competitors store, hence one gets exclusivity for all his stock purchased. Exclusive veneers can counter fierce competition easily.
2. IDENTITY; Decorative veneer is the most valued and treasured product for both end users and architects. With exclusive veneers at stock, one can create a niche for himself and entice architects to frequently visit his store creating a premier identity for oneself as “Best Veneer Outlet”.
3. BETTER YIELD; Decorative Veneer (DV) certainly has better profit margins compared to any other commodity at a plywood store. Not only healthy margins but it also gives a sense of satisfaction when customer praises the veneers selected by him.
4. INNOVATION; In this highly competitive market, a retailer must constantly innovate and improve efficiency to stay competitive. DV is one product which allows retailers to stay innovative and creative by frequently updating stocks with new arrivals.
5. ECO-FRIENDLY and ECONOMICAL; DV is most eco friendly and more cost effective compared to Solid Wood. It adds the same beauty of Natural wood to your interiors with much lesser cost.
6. LONG LASTING BEAUTY-compared to any other surface decor products the design and beauty of Natural & Decorative veneers is long lasting and never obsolescent.
Finally, there is no better luxury than pride in your own product and decorative veneer is that one product which makes you feel more contended and proud.
Mr. Jeetu Ajbani,
Deluxe Veneer, Mumbai
Warmth to any interior comes from wood and so there is no alternate to wood. The only substitute to wood is veneers. That is why veneer is so important to any interior project and no project is complete without it. A decade back when we took our first step into the decorative veneer industry only a handful of designers were consistently using veneers for their projects and they were also rated amongst the topmost designers of India ,but in the last 3 to 4 years with a lot of our designers visiting international trade and furniture fairs and international designers executing projects in India ,the usage of veneers has increased multifold. We see this growing at a rapid pace in years to come.
To run a successful Decorative veneer business one needs to be passionate about the product and also has to give a lot of personal time to it .The ROI is also very high and attractive. It also gives you recognition and reputation of being an elite store within the wood industry. Recognition to us has always been very important as we dedicate our peak life years to the trade. But let me put in a word of caution here, In veneers Quality is the most important and one needs to have proper balancing of stock to minimize dead stocks, which is the key to being a successful veneer Company. After a decade of being in the veneer industry one thing I agree with .
“Opportunities don’t happen. You create them - start chasing the passion as there are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning”.