Here at Direct Blinds, we are always looking around the world for trends in our industry. Fortunately, there are like-minded folks who are just as passionate about blinds as we are worldwide. Recently we met and talked with Simon Meyer from Australia, who is Managing Director of Blinds On The Net. Like ourselves the company supplies quality made to measure blinds online. Simon gave us insight into the vibrant Australian Blinds market and talked about some interesting upcoming trends. Here are his thoughts.
What are the most popular products sold in Australia at the moment?
With a history in the Window furnishing industry that dates to the early 80’s, we have seen the market change dramatically over this time with the popularity of product doing the same. From the early days that saw a lot of natural woven products on windows to the massive popularity of cedar timber Venetians and then more recently a shift to make contemporary blinds like Roller blinds. Certainly, Roller blinds are by far the most popular product sold these days with a market share somewhere between 70-80%. We still see large volumes in Slimline Aluminium Venetians and the vertical blind is still sold in good quantities. We have certainly seen Plantation Shutters popularity being quite dominant but with the nature of this product being quite technical to measure, we had not seen its popularity online replicate the local bricks and mortar business models. This is now slowly changing with clear instructions on measuring and the DIY handyman market growing in confidence!
What are the current colour trends right now?
I think we would not be any different from most countries around when the world where we are selling variations on the colour white covering at least 80% of the market. We have also seen a lot more grey tones start to hit our market over the last 9-12 months. Most people are still quite reserved when it comes to using bold colours on windows.
Where do you see the market in 5 years?
The market is certainly becoming savvier and shopping online is definitely the way of the future. We are certainly seeing a lot of competition coming in directly from China and Indonesia with Australia being so close. We still have a huge quality benefit as Australian made is certainly far superior quality than the imported versions, we just need to do our job and educate the end consumer that they need to buy something that will last, not the lowest possible price!
What percentage of the Australian market are buying window coverings online vs. traditional retail shops?
The Australian market is still quite slow when it comes to internet shopping, we have HUGE distances to cover when shipping goods which works in favour of the online businesses as it opens up a huge range of products to people in remote areas who can easily find what they want online. We certainly see the market grow but with this growth also comes a lot more competition and people willing to offer lower price points!
Are you seeing motorisation become more popular with the DIY online market?
Motorised electric blinds are certainly on the up and up! We have quite large windows over in Australia with blinds regularly being made up to 3000mm wide and linking them together is also popular which makes for very heavy blinds. Somfy are certainly the market leaders over her in Australia but we are also getting quite a lot of traction with our Automate motors which are sourced from the best motor suppliers out of China. They have exceptional battery options like the 1.1, 2.0 quiet motor and 3Nm motors which can lift various blinds up to 3000mm wide and include linked blinds. Somfy also have battery motors which are also very popular but online we certainly sell more of the imported Chinese motors due to their cost benefit. The other thing which is becoming hugely popular is the Pulse or My-link HUB connections which allow you to operate your blinds from anywhere in the world from an APP on your iPhone or Android phone.
How and why did Blinds on the Net start their online business?
Blinds on the Net was established in 2006 when I returned from a 6-year stint the UK within the blinds industry. I have a family business manufacturing premium quality blinds so always grew up around window coverings! I furthered my education in the industry working for 6 years with the largest manufacturers of window coverings throughout Europe and the UK. During this time I got to work with some of the key fabric and components suppliers throughout Europe and the far east which gave me a great understanding of window covering. At the time my father set up a small website selling readymade blinds, it was very small and very humble and in the first year I think we managed a turnover of $1500! Upon returning from the UK, without any real plans of what I was going to do I started to develop Blinds on The Net and increase the product lines, improve the look flow of the website. We quickly grew off the back of this effort and increased product lines and now we are one of Australia’s largest online retailers. We are just about to go through a full revamp of the site to give it a facelift and a new identity moving forward! We are very excited about what is to come.
To summarise, it is interesting how trends are developing in Australia. Clearly, electric blinds are becoming increasingly popular both in Australia and the UK. More and more people choose to buy made to measure blinds online. We are constantly improving your experience to make the process easy and enjoyable.