December 07, 2021
Water Hyacinth Furniture from Vietnam
Exporting Vietnamese furniture to the Netherlands: Out of the woodwork, enter water hyacinth furniture
In 2018, VIEC was approached and asked by a customer, Jan JP BV, to do market research about the possibility of importing a new type of furniture from Vietnam. The requirement was that the goods be unique for the Dutch furniture sector and suitable for use in the Netherlands. Jan JP wanted something different from regular handcraft furniture products from Vietnam, which have earned wide-ranging recognition in the EU market; but simultaneously, they should be able to see the characteristics of a typical Vietnamese product. Prior to this, the customer had already worked with Wageningen University, but the project turned out to be too complicated and entailed resource-consuming follow-up processes. VIEC was their last call before giving up on this.
Apparently, it can be said that VIEC, with our extensive knowledge about Vietnamese export spearheads and suppliers, would be able to solve all problems that Jan JP BV was facing with ease. But the reality was quite the opposite. It was also a big challenge for VIEC.
Fortunately, with our “can do” mentality, belief in the idea, and precise risk calculation, we have helped Jan JP BV succeed in bringing the very first container of furniture from Vietnam to Rotterdam. And the solution was Water Hyacinth.
Water Hyacinth is a lush green water plant that grows exceptionally thickly in tropical waterways in Vietnam. Water hyacinth is considered a “pest” as it grows rapidly and densely, blocks waterways, and reduces water systems’ sunlight and oxygen levels, causing numerous environmental concerns.
Fortunately, the plant can be converted for better usage. Once harvested and dried, it becomes a durable material for weaving, especially to make furniture. Thus, people have used this sustainable raw material to create beautiful bags and accessories out of this invasive plant for a long time.
While the traditional solid wood furniture making is getting more infamous due to its impact on the environment, water hyacinth has helped Vietnam rattan suppliers contribute more to the environmental improvement while maintaining their productivity and profitability. Water Hyacinth Furniture crafting, using a more environmentally conscious material (even more than wicker or rattan), is becoming more prominent in the furniture manufacturing industry.
The Netherlands is well-known for being a sustainability-conscious country, and so are its markets. In the past 5 years, 89% of Dutch retailers have witnessed a sharp increase in the revenue generated by sustainable products. Meanwhile, a total of 94% are expecting the climb to continue in the upcoming 5 years. This makes the Dutch market one of the markets that value and prioritize sustainable solutions. For the household furniture sector, this is even better. The Dutch market has unarguably emerged as a promised land for Water Hyacinth Furniture, with expected 100% retailers have been and will be expecting a rise in their sustainable products outflux.
Now that the search for a suitable product was completed, it was then time for both VIEC and Jan JP to take on the next steps. New problems emerged and posed a substantial amount of challenges for both Jan JP and VIEC:
The credibility issue had been plaguing a non-trivial amount of companies working with overseas factories, especially those that are in the small and medium category. And for Jan JP, it was no exception. The sourcing process was filled with concerns about quality. Quality control was challenging: While samples can be well made to impress the buyers, guaranteeing the quality of the actual order is another story. Additionally, the standard material quality threshold difference between Vietnam and the EU was also brought into consideration. For example, the tolerable level of pesticide for raw material in Vietnam is higher than in the Netherlands and the EU in general. Therefore Jan JP and its supplier will need to comply with the regulation. Lastly, commitment to consistency of quality when the order frequency increases was also thought of. Furthermore, commitment in delivery time was also under concern. Then came the issue of payment terms and discounts for reordering or starting with small order quantities.
All of the above would require a significant amount of further negotiations. And this was challenging due to the difference in communication between the two parties. Despite the seemingly overwhelming number of initial challenges, VIEC was able to help Jan JP overcome all these challenges and set up a stable stream of supply for its sales in the Netherlands. Simultaneously, VIEC has been successful in supporting two furniture factories in Vietnam to export their water hyacinth furniture to the Netherlands in July 2018, with a stable outflow of product supply and an expanding clientele. To VIEC, this was also a successful project as we were able to cater to our customer’s requirements and provide them the much-desired outcome.
At VIEC, we are committed to support you in:
Initiating small order quantities to test the marketability of the products.
Optimizing the journey of your products for maximized cost efficiency: Direct from the factory to the buyers with minimum markup.
Setting up a B2B or B2C distribution system for your business.
Maintaining a steady supply for your product with your preferred packaging.
VIEC guarantees to consistently distribute products to our customers with the highest quality and value that, at the same time, merit your pocket, as we always state in our motto: “VIEC—Value, Integrity, Exclusivity, Connections.”
Now that Vietnam and the EU have together enacted the EVFTA, a whole new spectrum of opportunities has opened for businesses from both parties. Especially for small and medium businesses in the Netherlands looking to import and distribute Vietnamese-originated products and vice versa. There are still immensely unique and potential products in Vietnam waiting for you if you dare to “Think bigger” with VIEC.
Have inquiries, or do you want to work with us? Contact VIEC HERE.