#Designgoeson: Designdiffusion.com talks with Filippo Berto, CEO BertO, about online communication in the furniture industry
BertO is a company based in Meda, Northern Italy, which has invested heavily in digitization for some years now. With them we have tried to understand how helpful new technologies can be to overcome a difficult moment like this.
While the Covid-19 health emergency continues, how is it possible to keep working? Is a good digital infrastructure helpful?
Filippo Berto: “We already have some experience in e-commerce and online communication, which is working in our favor now. For several years, in fact, we have been working to offer consulting and design services online, and today we are ready to keep working, at least as far as the functions that can be carried out in smart or remote working are concerned.
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As early as March 10, even before the government decree, we closed our six stores, scattered throughout Italy; on March 23, companies that do not produce primary goods shut down throughout Italy. Between the end of February and the beginning of March, we took measures to separate the various production areas to safeguard our employees, as required by the health emergency. We know that it is going to be a very difficult period from an economic point of view, but the health and safety of employees must take first place.
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Can the digital infrastructure replace, at least in part, the physical presence?
BertO has six directly operated stores in Italy, and their closure will doubtlessly translate into a turnover loss, which cannot be estimated yet. However, the work we have done in recent years to offer a digital support to our customers is giving good results now. In this period, the staff of our showrooms is working remotely, from home, and can offer advice and assistance related to any design service, in 7 languages, including Chinese. In recent years, thanks to new technologies, we have reached different areas of the world, including several European countries, the United States and China. Although we really believe in Italy, we need to extend our range of action.
In a year without Salone del Mobile, how effective can online communication be? Can it replace in-person communication?
The most important consequence of the health emergency is that Salone del Mobile di Milano has been definitively postponed until 2021. Without such an important showcase, online communication will become much more important, though the Salone del Mobile is irreplaceable. I hope that this difficult moment becomes an opportunity to reconsider some mechanisms. I also think that many companies will take advantage of it to review not only their communication strategies, but also daily management. Such a complicated period could become a real opportunity to start redesigning a different future, in which new technologies will play a new role.
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