Category: Article

Making Studies Memorable with the Right Furniture

It would stun anyone to know that more than 25% of a child’s life is spent in the school’s furniture! Considering a 7-8 hour day at school and a 5-6 day week, the maths easily works itself. While we spend hours and days debating and discussing chairs, tables and beds for our children at home, we possibly do not consider the furniture even in the slightest when we enrol them into school! 

This is an important point for school principals, administrators, management and purchasing boards to consider while furnishing the classrooms and school premises. In fact, in this day and age of heightened awareness, many schools have utilised their furniture as a strong marketing point.

Read More-  The Perfect Furniture

 Basics Of Classroom Furniture

​​The furniture used in any classroom must not occupy more than 50% of the space to allow for free movement without accidents or injuries. It is very important that it encourages the perfect sitting posture – with the children’s backs against the chairs and the feet on the floor. The desk/table should be at a comfortable height to make the student focus well without distractions. When all this is done right, there is a much higher probability of the student delivering his/her best performance academically. Classroom furniture thus becomes the teacher’s best aide!

Best Wood For Best Furniture

 Here are three concepts from the Autumnwood designers to theme your classrooms depending on the students’ needs. 

  1. Flexi-Furniture – This concept is based on the fact that an active student scientifically has a greater probability of better grades than the less active ones. And to keep the student active, it would be great to have adjustable tables and chairs made of pliable wood or softer wood. One could make use of multi-tasking furniture like table-chair pairs that fit into each other to form cubes/boxes. Foldable tables that open up from the wall when necessary also offer flexibility and space.
  2. Collab-Furniture – Education is no longer about a teacher writing stuff on the blackboard and the students sincerely noting it in their books! Even from the primary school level, students are being encouraged to work collaboratively, in groups to build their EQ along with the IQ. Now, if the students have to spend time and energy rearranging the furniture for collaborative activities, the teacher/mentor might choose to skip such activities. Lightweight benches/desks, furniture with built-in power outlets, modular tables, and chairs with wheels or casters are some ideas to build on.
  3. Tech-Furniture – Another global trend in education is that it has become very visual and multimedia oriented. Today’s job market has a workforce that uses advanced technology. Thus, making students tech-savvy should be a priority for educational institutions. Multimedia tables, display units/holders and furniture with scope to accommodate smart-screens, power outlets and cables should be the favourites of any futuristic school.

Whatever be the concepts we choose while building the classroom, the furniture should inspire students while keeping them alert and attentive. It should motivate and stimulate on one hand and nurture and relax on the other. Do get in touch with our in-house experts to give the much-needed furniture-boost to your school classrooms.

The Perfect Furniture To Make Your Cafe Stand Out

Think of sipping a coffee in Starbucks or Cafe Coffee Day!!! Is it the best coffee in the world? The answer to that question will definitely vary because tastes differ. However, a vast majority will agree that sipping a coffee in Starbucks or Cafe Coffee Day is among the best coffee-drinking experiences in the world! It is not about the coffee alone but the experience of drinking it which builds the perception. That is where the ambiance and the furniture of your cafe gain importance in determining what customers think of you! In other words, you might be selling the best coffee but if the furniture is not right for your Cafe, then it will be pretty tough going.

 Make Your Brand Stand Out

Every café has its own unique menu which it builds on to increase its popularity. The same principle applies for its furniture as well. Fun and unique furniture is a definite way to establish a brand or enhance its popularity. Having been in the furniture business for decades at Autumnwood, we can authoritatively state that many cafés and restaurants have even started updating their interior every four to five years in order to be competitive and build excitement in their customers. It is evident that through differentiation, the interiors contribute to the success of the café more now than ever before. 

Rising Incomes And Rising Expectations

Unique furniture in cafés is not a novel concept in the developed world. It is almost a necessity. For instance, the Ampersand Café in Poland invested in bentwood stools and chairs to complement its indoor dining areas. The natural timber blended beautifully amidst the antique sofas, tables and fireplaces. The resulting ambiance from the renovation increased sales by 30%!

 India is surging on its way to become the 4th largest economy in the world and nobody dare call it a ‘developing country’ any more. Within rising incomes come increased standards of living and with that comes increased expectations. It is little wonder then that quaint coffee shops and unique coffee-houses have become the favourite haunt of the new generation.

Furniture ‘Tailormade’ For Cafe Themes

The kind of furniture that you will finally settle on for your cafe depends on your vision of the kind of customer you want to frequent it. If it is meant for the office-goers and the working populace looking for a quick morning or evening fix, functional tables and chairs with neat lines would be the choice. However, if it is meant to serve as a hangout space, then the furniture needs to cater to practicality and comfort. If your café is an outdoor one, you may pick bistro furniture made from rattan or wicker materials but if it is an upscale café in the elegant indoors, bentwood furniture is a good pick.

 Do get in touch with us and our expert craftspeople will craft the furniture that best suits your café. And we assure you ofthe most attractive prices across India.

International Day of the Girl Child- Autumnwood

International Day of the Girl Child

Did you know that if you were a woman travelling in a car, there is a 47% greater chance of severe injury in case of a crash because the safety features of the car are designed for men? Did you know that everyday 33000 girls become child-brides? Did you know that only 6 countries in the world give women equal legal rights as men? We could go on with more such shocking gender-disparity statistics. But we will stop because we know we have got your attention.

The Need For International Day Of The Girl Child

“All men are created equal” is a popular and famous statement that emphasises universal equality among all human beings. The irony however, lies in the very wording of the statement because it uses the term ‘man’ to denote humans! What about women and girls? For centuries now, women have been restricted to varying degrees in exercising their human rights and enjoying fundamental freedoms. This silent and accepted discrimination based on gender begins from the womb and extends till the tomb. So deeply ingrained is this inequity and apathy towards the girl child that we need an International Day to recognize the rights of girls and the unique challenges that they face around the world!

Breaking The Glass Ceiling

Times are changing though. It started with one-off cases of girls breaking barriers and boundaries created by stereotypes and exclusion. As awareness and efforts grew, the number of girls and women breaking the glass ceiling across fields also grew. Today, when girls  with disabilities and those who are living in marginalised communities shine forth, it represents a definite paradigm shift. Girls are today creating a new world that is relevant in the present and for the future. They are rising as professionals, stepping forward as innovators, entrepreneurs and initiators of movements globally.

It has become increasingly clear that empowering girls and ensuring gender equality is critical to accelerate the sustainable and all-round development of society. Ending all kinds of discrimination against women and girls is not only about upholding human rights, but it is also about correcting historical human wrongs!

Yet So Far…

Despite all the progress so far, girls across the globe continue to face multiple challenges in securing education, physical health, mental wellness and protections for a life without violence. It is worse for girls with disabilities and the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened things even more for girls. Important gains they had made over the last decade have been eroded in just 2 years.  The World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report of 2018 clearly stated that it would take at least 108 more years to achieve gender parity at the current progress rate!

The UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) has proclaimed the 2022 theme for the International Day of the Girl Child as “Our time is now – our rights, our future”. Well, whatever be your gender, the time to act is definitely now and there is no time to waste. We are running quite late already!

Challenges Facing Retailers Today

For a retailer, these are the best of times; these are the worst of times! These are times of plenty as far as the pool of customers is concerned; these are times of scarcity as far as the customers’ loyalty is concerned! The same technology and channels that empower the retailers have also empowered the customers. And when you think about it, most customers are also retailers of some product or service. Thus they are aware of standards expected. Thus, any retailer today faces at least 8 challenges:

 The customer is pampered for choices. Gone are the times when he had to choose between a handful of brands. Today, there are dozens and even hundreds of brands even in the luxury sector which was supposed to be exclusive in every way.

  1. Every customer is more knowledgeable and she compares each little feature, advantage and disadvantage of the product/service to assess the value for money it offers before making a purchase.
  2. Armed with greater knowledge and greater choices, the customer takes much longer to become loyal to a brand. Every retailer has to invest much more resources to get a conversion and even more resources to ensure that the customer returns for repeat purchases.
  3. The traditional hierarchy of a manufacturer selling to wholesalers who in turn sell to retailers is fast breaking down. Realising the potential of brand-building and retail sales, many companies are also launching their own individual retail channels. Thus, the competition is hotting up and it is only bound to get more intense.
  4. The digital disruption has hit hard at the retail industry. Today, it is no longer good enough to have a strong physical presence providing a wonderful customer experience. The lines between the real and virtual worlds have almost smudged and the customer seeks a multi-channel experience while purchasing. And there too, the customer demands the same experience and treatment with no difference between the virtual store and the brick and mortar store.
  5. For a retailer, it is no longer sufficient to be able to provide the highest quality of goods or services. The demanding customer seeks experiences today. Thus, the retailer faces the challenge to gather, integrate, analyse and intelligently use customer data to constantly innovate personalised and customised experiences. This is what makes the purchase process memorable.
  6. With the explosion of social and digital media and technologies, retailers face the dilemma of having to choose and pick the optimal channels for communication and the best technologies for results.
  7. Leveraging customer data brings immense benefits for retailers. But it is a double-edged sword opening up a pandora’s box of security concerns. The slightest error could potentially lead to great damages to the customer and so, badle affect the retailer too.

 If failures are stepping stones, challenges are escalators towards greater success! When the retailer puts in efforts to achieve seamless multi-channel experience, customised offerings and genuine customer service, there is bound to be success that builds customer loyalty which lasts for years.

Customer Retention – How Critical It Is Nowadays

In this data-driven age where everything is broken down to and measured by numbers, it is a startling statistic that acquiring a new customer costs 7 times more than retaining an existing one! That fact alone should be sufficient to emphasise the criticality of customer retention. Yet, more than 50% of companies and brands have greater focus and emphasis on customer acquisition compared to the mere 16% that focus and emphasis on customer retention!

 Why Customer Retention Becomes Even More Important…

 Since existing customers contribute 65% on an average of a company’s business and are also 50% more likely to try out new products, evidence is clear that retaining customers should be the dominant strategy for any brand or business. However, nowadays, customer retention becomes even more important primarily because of the following 4 reasons. 

  1. Gen Z, the latest generation which is becoming adults, is the potential customer group for almost all businesses. This generation is very experimental in its mindset and are immune to the traditional marketing strategies for customer-retention. They have the least brand loyalty among all the generations so far. They are also the most diverse generation racially and ethnically. Naturally, they have forced businesses to completely rethink strategies on how to retain them. 
  2. The Covid-19 pandemic has made the world more virtual and digital with multiple competitors lurking just a click away from customers. In this aggressive and predatory scenario online, customer loyalty is possibly the brand’s/business’ only defence. 
  3. Sensing the shoppers preference for brands and businesses that run loyalty programs, more and more businesses and brands are coming out with such programs. Therefore, loyalty programs are slowly becoming more of an expectation rather than something that delights the customer. This will force brands to think deeper and innovatively to retain customers. 
  4. From 0% a few months ago, the chances of a global recession exacerbated by inflation is close to 40% in 2022-23. Everyone cuts back on spending (especially on discretionary items) and the least affected brands will be those with the highest customer loyalties.

The Key To Customer Retention

A whopping 89% of companies agree that the most important factor driving both customer loyalty and customer retention is the customer experience. Customers have been so pampered these days that they expect delightful experiences throughout the purchase and service journeys.

Creating an experience that is more immersive and engaging, rewarding the brand pioneers and first users, inspiring and motivating consumers beyond the product/service, making shopping fun by taking it social and finding newer ways and means to save the consumers’ time will all make for a delightful customer experience. That in turn will enhance their loyalty and boost your business’ fortunes.

Changing Consumer Preferences Towards Organised Retailing From Unorganised Retailing

Relentless March of Evolution

Evolution is unstoppable. The entire Universe itself seems to support evolution with all its focus and force. That is why the earth today is ruled by Homo sapiens though the micro-organisms had a distinct first mover advantage. Evolution enhances the sophistication of life, no doubt, but it also makes living easier through excellent organisation and intelligent design. 

Everything evolves. Retail is no exception!

Indian Retail Sector

The word ‘retail’ is derived from the French verb ‘tailler’, meaning ‘to cut off’ in terms of tailoring. It is the sale of products in small quantities to the final consumers.  The retail sector in India is a coexistence of the modern organised retailers and the traditional unorganised retailers or kirana stores. While the kirana is often conveniently located, has a low-cost structure and customer intimacy, modern retailers offer product width and depth with an enhanced shopping experience.

As of 2020, India’s retail market was 12% organised. But the pandemic changed that and accelerated the growth of organised retail. By 2025, approximately 30-35% of the Indian retail market will be organised.

You may ask – How are we so confident?

Changes Driving the Revolution and Evolution

To start with, organised retail in India has been growing at an average compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26% with furniture & furnishings growing at about 12% and pharmacy growing at a whopping 41%. Being leaders in custom designing, manufacturing and installing high-quality fixtures & furniture in consumer environments, we have seen this growth first-hand over the past decade.

Income levels have been rising with more people choosing to build a career, more women entering the workforce and thus, dual incomes in families. The per capita GDP (gross domestic product) in India has grown at an inflation-adjusted 60% in the last decade.

The mindsets of consumers too have undergone paradigm shifts where they increasingly prefer convenience and comfort in their shopping experience. The consumer today is well-informed, looks out for bargains and additional perks and is not hesitant to use credit cards. There is also an increased brand-consciousness and brand-awareness.

Organised Retail – Ticking All Boxes

Organised retail is tailor-made to fulfil all consumer aspirations. With all products across brands well classified and available in a single space, it offers the choice, convenience and comfort that a kirana shop or mom-and-pop store can never have.

It is entirely self-service which allows the shoppers to indulge in an experience or quickly pick and leave as per their preference. The store ambience created with masterful merchandising and lights adds to the experience.

These large super-stores offer the best deals thanks to their bargaining power. They also offer other perks like quick, computerised billing and facilities like parking space and acceptance of credit cards.

Finally, the consumer receives value added services like memberships, customisation and home delivery which are almost absent in unorganised retail.

Organised Retail – Here To Grow

Having catered to the furniture & fixture requirements of many renowned brands including FABIndia, Flying Machine, Soch, BIBA, BBQ Nation, Indian Terrain and the list is endless, we can confidently say that the retail revolution and evolution is ON in India.

75 Years Of Independence

It has been a chequered yet exhilarating journey of 75 years from 1947 to 2022; from when India achieved political independence to the time it is on the verge of achieving complete social, cultural, economic and international dominance! It definitely makes our jaws drop in awe when we realise that the country’s GDP has grown over 500,000 times from a mere 0.00001 Trillion USD in 1947 to nearly 5 Trillion USD expected in 2025. But the most heartening aspect of this growth has been its stability as the Indian economy stands firm despite 3 black swan events – demonetisation, Covid-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine conflict – in a span of 6 years!

Early years of growth

The independence at the stroke of midnight on 15th August 1947 itself was a big turning point for a country that had been steadily deindustrialized by (not so) Great Britain. The entrepreneurial spirit began in 1946 with the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers Union Ltd. (the earlier avatar of AMUL) and got a balanced push with the adoption of a mixed economy in 1948. Initiating the 5-years plans under the Planning Commission, brought about rapid industrialization with intense focus on the capital goods and heavy industries in the 1950s.

 Revolutions galore

As war times loomed and India faced threats of shortages and sanctions, the resilient people came up with the Green Revolution in the 1960s that made the country self-sufficient with respect to food and then, the White Revolution in the 1970s that ensured an abundance of nutritious milk. This has been the largest program for dairy development ever in the world! Each crisis propelled India to greater heights. The collapse of the Soviet Union, spike in oil prices and the huge balance-of-payments crisis for India in the 1990s led to the liberalisation revolution with economic reforms so powerful that there was no looking back.

 A World Superpower

 The first evidence that India was on its way to becoming a superpower was the harnessing of the super nuclear power! Then came the phenomenal achievements in outer space with the latest being the travel to Mars in the first attempt itself at a tenth of the cost that any nation has been able to achieve. Taking giant strides in health and life expectancy (which has more than doubled from 32 in 1947 to 70 in 2022), India is today the world’s largest producer of vaccines and generic medicines.

 The entrepreneurial spirit that launched India in 1947 appears to be reaching its zenith in 75 years with more than 105 Indian unicorns (companies with a billion dollar valuation) with a combined valuation of USD 338.5! At the helm of the giant FAANG (Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon, Netflix & Google) companies are all Indians. It only goes to show that when Indians unite and decide to move forward, the country surges and the world benefits too!

Impact of Retail Store Design & Layout on The Customer Mind

With the advent of globalisation, interconnected economies and highly reduced barriers for trade, competition has shifted from the national arenas to international levels. Every mall, supermarket or departmental store seems to stock similar (if not same) brands. And yet, some stores command whopping sales while some languish to even break even! There could be many factors at play here, but one overwhelmingly important factor is the store design and layout.

 Retailers should use the store design and layout to influence their customers’ behaviours. The ways in which a store layout could be used are as follows: 

  1. Determining Shopping Patterns: Positioning the most essential products at the back end of the store and welcoming the customer with the most visually appealing ones are classic ways to ensure that the customer enters the store, spends more time (and money) there and indulges in impulse purchases. Grouping and displaying complementary products together (like shower gel with loofah), increases the customer’s meaningful purchases. 
  2. Influencing Impulse Purchases: While grid layouts emphasise on speed and convenience, freeform layouts allow greater exploration by customers. The Gruen Effect is something that all successful stores employ. It is about creating a layout meticulously to deeply engage the customer so that he/she forgets the original intentions of coming to the store and engages more in impulse purchases. The display should arouse the customer because research at the successful IKEA stores shows that 80% of purchase decisions made there aren’t based on needs but emotions. 
  3. Optimising The Retail Space: The right design and layout will ensure that each brand/product is allotted space according to its sales potential. Also, luxury items need to be given more space to emphasise the premium aspect compared to lesser ticket items. You will be surprised at the boost in sales that can be achieved by a simple rearrangement of the merchandise. 
  4. Enhancing Buying Atmosphere: Lights, displays and store design can be used to subconsciously steer customers towards certain areas which look ‘scenic’. You can extend window shopping into the store and convert it to actual shopping too!

 Creating a perfect store set up is best left to experts who have been in the field for years. One such quality-driven Indian company designing and manufacturing retail fixtures and  furniture is Autumnwood. With architects, designers and contractors who are all connoisseurs in their own right, you can rest assured that apart from being economical, your retail store design and layout will be of the finest quality.

Different Types of Wood That is Best for Furniture

What is the best wood for my furniture? The answer to this question depends on what you are looking for in your furniture. Do you want it ornate or simple? Do you want it to last for a lifetime or do you want to change it at regular intervals? How much are you ready to invest for it? Understanding the wood behind your furniture along with its pros and cons will make your decision-making easy.

Types of Wood

Wood broadly arrives in two varieties – hardwood and softwood. The names are misleading because hardwood is not necessarily harder than softwood! The difference lies in biology.

Hardwood comes from angiosperms or flowering trees that grow very slowly. These trees possess the xylem vessels to transport water. Hence, the wood is dense. It is also costly because it takes a lot of time to form.

Softwood comes from gymnosperms or non-flowering trees (pines and cones) which grow relatively fast. These trees don’t possess the xylem vessels to transport water. Hence, the wood is not as dense as hardwood. It is also cheaper because it takes less time to form.

There is a third kind which we can call hard grasses. They are the fastest growing and also the cheapest.

Hardwood – That Lasts a Lifetime

Hardwoods are best suited for furniture that needs to last a lifetime. Hardwood furniture can easily bear the rigours of daily use and requires minimal maintenance. They continue looking great year after year. They are the most fire-resistant among woods and most of them have very good waterproof and termite-resistant properties. These qualities make them the first choice to create ornate and carved furniture that also double up as art pieces. But they are also among the most expensive of all the woods out there. Hardwood trees include teak, mahogany, sal, rosewood, mango, satin and rubber.

Softwood – The Cost Saving Option

Softwoods are cheaper than hardwoods and are generally easier to work with which adds to the cost-savings. Since these trees grow very fast and are replenished faster, softwood is more sustainable than hardwood. Many softwoods are also waterproof and termite-resistant though they tend to catch fire a bit more easily. They are perfect to make furniture that you intend to use for a few years and discard or recycle. Softwood trees include sal, white cedar, red cedar, pine and deodar.

Grasswood – Durable, Strong & Economical

Grasswoods like bamboo and cane are surprisingly durable and strong. In fact, bamboo is stronger than many hardwood trees. Being the fastest growing among all the woods, bamboo and cane are the most economical and eco-friendly options, as well. Bamboo is also the most fire-resistant and insect-resistant also. However, bamboo and cane furniture arrive with limited options in design and style. It is also not possible to carve or emboss on them.

Engineered Wood

Also called composite wood or manufactured board, this is a derivative wood product created by binding strands, particles and scraps of wood with adhesives. Apart from being highly cost-effective, engineered wood is available in abundance and is very versatile. It is easy to cut, drill, route, join, glue and fasten compared to solid wood. A variety of looks also can be achieved by using appropriate laminates or veneers. Engineered wood tends to soak up water and therefore is best for indoor use. Make sure to recycle it because the adhesives used in it are sometimes toxic for the environment. Engineered wood includes plywood, particle boards, block boards, strand boards, laminated veneers and MDF (medium density fiberboard).

 Whatever be your furniture preference, Autumnwood craftspeople are skilled and experienced in creating the best for you at the greatest value. Visit our store to see more.

Making Ergonomics And Economics Meet At Colleges

Education is evolving today – from a mass teaching program to a personalised and customised learning experience based on the students’ aptitudes. This is especially true of university education where the number of courses and specialisations are increasing exponentially each passing year. Extracurricular activities, cultural activities and sports are being given equal importance as academics. To cater to the students’ varying needs, even new colleges are mushrooming. However, there has hardly been any progress on one life-defining aspect of university and college education – ergonomics!

College Furniture – Outdated Or Never Updated 

Go online and run an internet search for important points to keep in mind while choosing a college. Multiple results will show up which emphasise on budget, career goals, faculty, campus culture, reputation etc. But you will find almost no results focusing on the quality of the furniture at college! There may be a smile on your face reading that statement but it is no laughing matter. While college students spend almost 9 hours at the desk every day, research shows that almost 83% of them sit on furniture that is not suitable for their body structure! While the college regularly updates its courses, teachers and, not to forget – fees, it rarely upgrades its furniture.

Two Opposing Perspectives?

The students may belong to the same age group but, just as their aptitudes need customised courses, their body structures require customised furniture. Bad posture can cause severe and chronic pains, especially in the back and neck. It also affects the students’ ability to concentrate in class. This, in turn, makes the teachers’ job harder and ultimately affects the college’s results! So, it is time that colleges give up the conventional plug-and-play furniture and invest in customised solutions.

However, there is also the college administration’s perspective to consider. It is a practical impossibility to have personalised furniture for each student who will be replaced with another student in a span of a year. Customisation also costs a lot. Colleges mostly look only for durability in the furniture because it is a big investment and the students are not always careful with them. The second-most important criteria is looks. Ergonomics probably does not even make it to the criteria list!

A Turnkey Solution

This is where experienced designers and fabricators of commercial furniture can come into picture to provide assistance in design-development, value-engineering and professional installation. The furniture should not only be resilient for everyday rough use, it should also be flexible to meet the differing needs of the students as well as the curricula. That is why, equipping the colleges and universities with furniture should be considered as a turnkey project rather than a piecemeal one.

This requires a thorough recce of the campus followed by the development of an appropriate design concept. Needless to say, innovation and versatility in design are absolutely essential to ensure that there is at least some level of customisation in the furniture without burgeoning costs.

Education is evolving today – so must ergonomics!