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Wallco quality modular solid wood furniture

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Wallco (Wallco quality modular solid wood furniture)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2016-03-31

Wallco is a product line of Proform d.o.o. which consists of modular, solid wood furniture, designed to meet the changing needs of our target customers. The Wallco product line has been developed and will continue to be developed with customer involvement, feedback, and user-led innovation.
As part of Proform, Wallco already has all of the necessary tools, experience, networks, and customer relationships to succeed in making quality furniture. In fact, Wallco has already won several awards for innovative design and product. Wallco has also invested in RDI with the University of Primorska supporting strong evidence based decision making.
Furniture producers in Slovenia must compete with large volume furniture manufacturers and distributors when trying to expand into other markets around Europe.
Our strategy for competing in the domestic and international furniture market is to create innovative, high quality products and services that meet identified needs. By initially focusing on the domestic market, Proform will be able to establish the technical proficiency and infrastructure scale-up necessary to expand into high-value foreign markets with the Wallco product line.
We are excited to start as soon as possible with sales, marketing, and expansion of Wallco products in cooperation with our customers. Expected revenues of Wallco products reach € 2,262,000 by the end of the first five-year period based on projected item sales. Revenues will generate sufficient income to grow the business beyond the first five years into a profitable small business.
Focus Groups / Surveys

Customer analysis was completed to identify the target customers for Wallco products and determine the customer needs. These tasks addressed Tasks 2, 3, and 5 of the Wallco work plan.
To determine the target customers, we prepared a questionnaire and conducted personal interviews with potential customers. The questionnaire was published on Facebook on the 21st of October, 2015 and disseminated locally with a 90 respondent sample size. Nine personal interviews were completed at three different locations in Ljubljana including the furniture fair “Ambient” 2015, an infant store Baby Center d.o.o. and a furniture store Lesnina d.d. These efforts aimed to understand the purchasing behaviour of consumers who are in the process of buying children’s furniture.
We asked questions to determine:

- The profile of our key customers
- The most valued qualities of furniture they were interested in
- How respondents link price with quality
- Information sources respondents use to collect information on furniture
- The level of trust in online shopping
- Who is the primary decision maker when purchasing furniture

The target customers were identified as being between the ages of 25 and 40 years old, who are planning to have children or those that already do. These customers are well educated with a Bachelor’s degree or higher and are environmentally conscious.
To determine the customer needs, two focus groups conducted with the University of Primorska were held.
An exploratory focus group was held to determine what features of Wallco products were the most desired and popular with targeted customers. Based on these results, a second focus group was held to introduce a Wallco prototype to users and assess their interest, opinions, and recommendations for future products. In the report of the exploratory focus group, the University of Primorska emphasized that the results indicate that the users want products that:

- Follow sustainable design principles
- Have an attractive design
- Have a high level of utility, are functional, and usable
- Are affordable
- Are made from renewable materials and can be recycled
- Are designed for durability

Based on the user input of the exploratory focus group, a fully-functioning Wallco prototype was created and six participants of the targeted consumer groups received instructions and the building elements of the Wallco product. Groups of two participants assembled the Wallco prototype products and afterwards had a discussion about their experience.

The main takeaways from the discussion were:
- Wallco products and construction provides a positive social event
- Creates a teaching and learning environment
- Promotes creativity in children and in parents through user-led design
- Construction is safe for all family members with no heavy or motorized tools needed
- Furniture has high functionality and can be adapted and changed to suit changing needs


The University of Primorska conducted a life-cycle-assessment of a selected Wallco product was conducted. The assessment was “Cradle-to-Gate”, accounting for the product’s impacts through its production, its service life, the end of life, and its reuse. This type of analysis will be used for all Wallco products to help guide our production methods and operations towards lower environmental impacts.
The completion of this assessment addressed Task 3 of the Wallco work plan by adding information to optimize prototype development and design.

Wallco Website

The Wallco website and online store is currently under construction and will be ready with the launch of the Wallco product line, addressing Task 4 and 7, by further developing the Wallco brand and creating a dissemination platform for news and user-feedback.

Market Analysis

As defined by the work plan in the first stage Wallco proposal, we have completed a market analysis of the furniture market as a whole in the EU, the Slovenian furniture industry, as well as the relevant market sizes for Wallco in domestic and targeted foreign markets. This analysis successfully completes Task 5 of the work plan.

Business Plan

A five-year Wallco business plan was created identifying the following key areas: Industry Analysis, Customer Analysis, Competitive Analysis, Market Plan, Operations Plan, Management Team, and Financial Plan.
It was identified that innovative, high-quality products and services will make Wallco and other SMEs successful when competing in domestic and foreign markets. Careful identification of target customer and their needs strengthened Wallco’s competitive advantage, particularly with implementing a user-led design feedback loop. With the scale-up and expansion of Wallco into targeted foreign markets, Wallco’s expected revenue is € 2,262,000 by the end of the first five-year period.
This completed Task 6 of the Wallco work plan.
"One of the greatest strengths of Wallco products are their adaptability. Based on our research, we have found that for our target customers who are buying furniture and more specifically buying children’s furniture are challenged with a significant financial investment. Along with this high investment is the knowledge that their children will soon outgrow the furniture, and their needs will change requiring more purchases every few years. At the moment, current offers for children’s furniture have a very short lifespan and our aim is to offer furniture that can adapt to the customer needs and not require multiple purchases. In addition to long-term savings, Wallco products offer a unique and fun experience for families to experience together, all while enjoying high-quality wooden furniture.
Low cost, and high volume furniture manufactures typically don’t take into account what happens to their furniture after its foreseen service life. This allows these companies to use less quality materials, but results in high environmental impacts when the furniture is thrown away. By using high quality starting materials and solid wood components, Wallco furniture that has completed its service life will not need to be thrown away. By re-using these high quality components, the furniture can either be sold again or the components can be re-processed for use in another product. This re-use plan reduces the amount of material ending up in our landfills and adds even more value to the initial investment in high quality raw materials. Also offered on the online store, is an even less expensive option to have Wallco products. A ""second-hand"" option which offer previously used furniture or reclaimed and refurbished furniture component elements. In the ""second-hand"" section we will also offer products with minor defects or damage from previous uses. These products are functionally equivalent to a completely new one and defects will not compromise the use of the product.
The Wallco product line utilises a user-led innovation paradigm. Focus groups conducted with the University of Primorska already helped further design Wallco products as well as identify more information about Wallco’s target customers. These focus groups are planned for the future with releases of new and revised product designs. By developing and creating products with features and designs identified by users, products are not only more likely to sell, but the company and the users develop a relationship that is not present in other furniture companies. This relationship will help create customer loyalty and a positive purchasing and owning experience for the customers.
In addition to user-led design and innovation, RDI is an integral part of Wallco’s continued success. We will invest 5 % of net annual income into RDI activities. RDI investments will be into material development, fastener development, market research, supporting open innovation activities with consumers, production optimisation, environmental optimisation, and other activities. These activities will be contracted out to regional RDI organisations such as the University of Primorska, with whom we have an established RDI relationship.