Commercial agents and sales partners for furniture, soft furnishings, home textiles, household goods, and table products

When it comes to the sale and distribution of furniture, soft furnishings, home textiles, household goods, and table products (tabletop) in Germany, most commercial intermediaries in Germany are commercial agents. In the CDH, the Federal Association of German Associations for Commercial Agencies and Distribution, these commercial agents are grouped together in the CDH trade association “Living” (Wohnambiente) because they sell and distribute all products that serve to furnish residences or commercially used properties. These include offices, hotels, and homes, but also passenger ships. The sale of products to the operators of such structures is therefore called contract business or commercial business. Some call their commercial agency an agency or commercial agency; if necessary, with a reference to the products sold; that is, furniture agency or agency for interior decoration.

The commercial agents and sales partners organised in the CDH in the “Living” trade association have categorised the services that they provide their represented companies and their customers (buyers) in Germany according to functional criteria.

The contact function

The contact function of commercial agencies in Germany for furniture, soft furnishings, home textiles, household goods, and table products is fulfilled by representing the company represented and by providing a functioning sales office in the vicinity of the customer with staff and organisational and communication tools.

The sales function

The function of selling as the most important function in the daily sales routine is fulfilled by commercial agents and sales partners in Germany by supporting existing customers, headquarters, regional headquarters, and regional distribution centres or the property, by creating and tracking bids and proposals, by negotiating listing agreements, and also by obtaining orders, including the delivery date agreement. Searching for and acquiring new customers in Germany and newly introducing products are also included as part of the sales function of commercial agents and sales partners in Germany. In addition, there are maintaining and expanding facings, agreeing on and achieving secondary and multiple stock placements (displays), checking stores at the customer or at the retail trade affiliated with the customer, and exhibiting at order fairs and shows. The noticeable sales functions of the agencies are rounded off by employee training at the customer’s premises, goods inspection (condition, breakage, damage), vignette maintenance (furniture store) or shelf maintenance, and preparing price lists.

The marketing function

The marketing function of commercial agencies in Germany is closely linked to their sales activity. This includes determining the purchasing potential of existing and prospective customers and the represented territory. In the marketing function, commercial agencies in Germany also plan the distribution of products, plan and monitor promotions, and plan the use of displays. They also support creating marketing concepts, including suggestions for placement and presentation. In this function, they provide scheduling recommendations and advice on how to design products. Brokering and supporting test markets and working at trade fair stands of the represented companies are also part of the marketing function of commercial agencies in Germany, as are designing advertisements for promotions, organising joint advertisements, and participating in house fairs of the customers by assembling stands, staffing, monitoring results, and giving presentations and talks.

The information function

Commercial agencies in Germany continuously provide information to the represented company about customers, competitors, and the situation in the German market. To do this, they also conduct special polls or surveys and make store checks at the customer site or at the retail trade affiliated with the customer and at competitors.

Commercial agents and sales partners in Germany for furniture, soft furnishings, home textiles, household goods, and table products also provide their customers with information from both their own sources and from and on behalf of suppliers.

The order processing function

Commercial agencies in Germany for furniture, soft furnishings, home textiles, household goods, and table products are involved in the order processing function with accepting and forwarding orders, monitoring delivery dates, and informing customers in the event of delays in delivery. At the request of the companies represented, the fulfilment of the order processing function may also include processing complaints, exchanging goods, returning goods, controlling credit, invoicing, and collecting by the commercial agencies.

The sales promotion function

Sales promotion functions are performed by German commercial agents and sales partners for furniture, soft furnishings, home textiles, household goods, and table products with the following activities: procuring, deploying, managing, monitoring, and training own and third-party advertising personnel; invoicing sales promotions to customers and suppliers; planning the deployment and disposition of advertising materials; procuring, delivering, and returning sales promotion materials; and assembling and disassembling display materials, sales stands, and shelves. Monitoring the success of sales promotions and reporting on them, and in the furniture trade, also planning, coordinating, and conducting the installation of displayed goods, are also part of the job of field sales in this trade sector.

The logistics function

For commercial agents and sales partners of the furniture trade and the home textiles trade in Germany, logistics functions are also relevant and performed by many commercial agents in Germany. These logistics functions include transporting goods, warehousing with scheduling and dispatching, control, and management, and supervising freight forwarders.

The management functions and planning services

The management functions and planning services are performed by some German commercial agencies for furniture. These include, in particular, consulting services of the furniture commercial agents and sales partners on sales organisation issues, logistics issues, price and communication policy, and product policy, including participation in commissions to decide models. In this case, there are overlaps with marketing functions. Commercial agencies in Germany for furniture are occasionally entrusted with setting up a sales organisation and with sales controlling either on behalf of an agency or as a general agency.

Planning services can likewise be a topic for furniture commercial agencies that are active in the contract business.

For furniture commercial agents with customers in the furniture trade in Germany, owing to circumstances, visits to end consumers to judge complaints may be necessary.

Conclusion

Commercial agencies and sales partners in Germany for furniture, soft furnishings, home textiles, household goods, and table products provide a variety of services both for the companies they represent; that is, suppliers, and for their customers (buyers). Of course, not every commercial agency will be able to and wish to provide all the services mentioned above, nor must they all. Which services are requested by suppliers and customers respectively depends on the product and distribution channel or sales channel. The list above is therefore to be understood as a compilation of all services that can be found when looking at all commercial agents and sales partners in the various living, home, and furnishings sectors in Germany.

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