T&S Group is a leading trader and importer of indoor (dining furniture, small furniture), outdoor (garden furniture, balcony furniture) and smart furniture (side furniture). The company was founded in 2018 by two experienced furniture manufacturing industry experts.
The vision was to create a unique, fully digital manufacturing and import/export company. Inspiration came from, among other places, Silicon Valley and the agile business models deployed by many technology start-ups.
Since its foundation, T&S Group has grown rapidly. Germany is the prime market, while production happens in Vietnam, but T&S Group is active in many other markets. It also oversees manufacturing-related processes for collaborators, including QA and QC.
Fixing furniture manufacturing’s paper problem
Furniture manufacturing has a paper problem, the founders of T&S agreed when starting their company in 2018.
Both had extensive, successful records in furniture trading, working with industry leaders in their home market, Germany, and in production areas like Vietnam. Both had felt the impact of inefficient, multi-step processes negatively impacting operations and results.
“One company had big warehouses all over Germany and overseas manufacturing facilities. Employees would produce and print out massive QC reports that were impossible to get through in a timely manner. As a result, everything took days and weeks longer than was necessary. This is not the image of the industry 40 years ago, but something that still happens today”
- Thomas Berg, COO & Managing Partner at T&S Home & Living GmbH
T&S Group sought inspiration elsewhere to avoid such pitfalls, specifically the mindset, entrepreneurship, and digital-first approach encountered during tours of Silicon Valley and the area’s start-ups.
To optimize results and success, T&S Group needed to find the right digital tools, which, in alignment with the Silicon Valley mindset, should be easy and intuitive to use, integrate and scale smoothly, create synergies, and require minimal one-time investments.
Mindset and tools take QA and QC to the next level
T&S quickly established that a powerful QA and QC solution would be vital to their setup. Surveying the market led to Qarma, which stood out for its intuitive setup and use coupled with robust, powerful data gathering and reporting features.
At the same time, Qarma and its staff match a core aspect of the T&S Group approach: a digital-first mindset. This mindset, and its choice of tools, are core components of the company’s rapid expansion and ongoing success.
Developing a digital-first mindset may sound advanced. However, once the mindset part becomes embedded, going digital becomes less complicated than many probably imagine.
From a solutions standpoint, digital-first often relates to how a company considers digital solutions and how they can be integrated and used to create synergies across business operations. For example, the right QA and QC tools provide opportunities to import data to and from ERP systems without establishing an API integration. This shortens implementation times and creates new opportunities for generating and using real-time insights.
Using Qarma and its unique templates for QA and QC enables the team to perform inspections at rapid speeds, upgrade its data analysis, and speed up the onboarding process.
“It takes a day to train the inspector, and then they are up and running. This and the solution's flexibility match our needs today and in the future are part of what draws us to it”
- Stephan Sander, CEO at T&S Home & Living GmbH
How integrating a digital-first mindset can be easier than you think
A digital-first mindset may sound like massive investments in new, complicated technology. But happily, the truth is instead the opposite.
T&S Group uses a digital-first mindset to simplify processes, create synergies, and deliver better results while simultaneously being more cost-effective.
The company's digital-first mindset builds on qualities and approaches that can be implemented in almost any company or industry:
- Simplicity for success: Solutions should be simple and intuitive and improve the lives of the end-users. With buy-in from end-users, upgrades can reach their full potential.
- Scalable is key: Invest in solutions that can scale to match your needs today, tomorrow - and years into the future.
- Easy integration rules: T&S Group uses solutions that complement each other, and data is easily transmitted from one to the other.
- Stay with what works: Microsoft 365 is central to T&S Group's operations, and its ERP system has been in place since the company was founded. It has added complementary solutions where needed to generate the most significant positive impact.
- Become comfortable with discomfort: Doing things in new ways, such as using cloud systems instead of on-premises IT, will almost always feel strange and uncomfortable early on – but once you see the results, the discomfort will go away.
- Be open to innovation and experimentation: Open-minded experimentation and being ready to innovate across the solution stack require time but are central to upgrading business operations.
- See it as a journey: T&S Group works with continual improvement as a clear goal. In relation to QA and QC, this includes further developing its integration of Qarma and data gathered through Qarma with other parts of its digital setup.
- Find the right people: During hiring processes, it is important to look for people open to a digital-first approach
Building the QC and QA setup of the future
A digitally native approach and flexible, agile tools enable T&S Group to move and adapt to a changing business environment rapidly.
For example, during the COVID-19 lockdowns, its staff were already fully digital and capable of working from home, thereby minimizing disruptions to operations.
Thanks to a flexible approach and scaling as a core parameter, the company has also been able to smoothly navigate supply chain disruptions that have seriously impacted many others in the industry. One way this has been achieved is through renting instead of owning warehouse space.
Its approach and success have led to further expansion in its manufacturing locations, including handling certain aspects, such as QA and QC, for other manufacturing and distribution companies.
“Our approach enables us to deliver what I think is a typical German mindset, focusing on quality and management, in Vietnam. But, as importantly, our real-time insights into QA and QC and ability to use and communicate them to our collaborators to improve results are far beyond what the industry in Germany has been used to – and is part of our unique selling points.”
- Stephan Sander, CEO at T&S Home & Living GmbH