Samsung is already ahead of where it expected to be in appliance sales, but the global brand is continuing to listen and respond to retailers’ needs with its evolving Kitchen Circle support package.
As the seventh most valuable brand in the world, according to Forbes, it’s perhaps not a surprise Samsung has been able to power on to the UK kitchen appliance scene.
What may be more of a revelation is how quickly it has been embraced by the kitchen showroom sector. Its success can not only be attributed to its ranged product portfolio, including connected appliances, but its communication with retailers.
It has seen Samsung already establish an estate of showrooms covering 122 postcodes, throughout the UK.
And these have on average 4.5 to 5 products on display, with channel manager of built-in appliances MDA Jonathan Hartley adding “I can tell you 98-99% of the ovens that are placed on display are our new Dual Cook Flex – a connected product.
“It shows the desire from the retailer to have a connected, Wi-Fi product they can demonstrate and the consumer can engage with.”
And Hartley points to the importance of education to help consumers buy into smart connected, adding: “The smart, connected journey from our point of view is very much about educating the retailer to have the skills and the knowledge set to demonstrate it to the consumer.”
He adds: “But you’ve got to get the consumer through the door. So we’re also working on how to visualise connected appliances through video, so retailers can create that connected journey and bring it to life on their websites to attract the customer.”
This forms part of a wide package of services to support, educate and reward independent kitchen retailers offered under the overarching brand of Kitchen Circle. It includes a technical team, available seven days a week, as well as access to online marketing materials and instore videos. And now the company has introduced the tiered Samsung Ambassador Training programme – Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Each of the levels takes one day and retailers can either participate at Samsung training centres in Egham, the Midlands and Leeds. Alternatively, retailers can receive one-to-one training at their own premises, over a 12 week period, for each level. “We are really working with our retailers to give them choice – and the best of both worlds – but also helping them understand the products in a way that’s meaningful to them,” explains Hartley.
Head of marketing for digital appliances Ruth Storey adds: “We would want everybody to try and get through at least the Bronze level – and then they can choose whether to come back for Silver and Gold”.
Such has been the interest in the training; the first dates at Samsung HQ are sold out, as Hartley adds: “This isn’t one-to-one training; it’s for 15 or 20 people coming for a day. So already the uptake has been fantastic.”
Samsung has developed its training following two-way feedback with its retailers. Ruth Storey adds: “All of our training team love the two-way feedback because they love being challenged on anecdotal feedback to help with objection handling – and then they built that into the training programme.”
Samsung has also responded to retailers who are creating press advertisements to showcase their business and the appliance brand.
Storey comments: “We love that enthusiasm, so we have produced templates which allows them to add a piece about their retail business. And every time we now do a campaign part of our assets now will be ‘co-opable’ so they can take it and add their own branding.”
But that’s not to say the company is standing still with product development as Samsung is expanding its portfolio. Hartley comments: “We will be adding to ovens and refrigeration with different formats. Retailers have been asking us for them and we’re responding to that feedback.” He adds: “That’s been good for the early adopters who said ‘I’ll come on board with you but will you be growing the range?’ and we said ‘yes’. What’s pleasing is we can go back with confidence and say we’re doing it.”
And Samsung is keen to emphasise it will continue to listen to its retailers, as Ruth Storey says “there’s no point listening once and walk away thinking we know what we’re doing – it’s about coming back to them and saying ‘What’s next?’ We have to be true to that and we’re really determined to stick to it.”
Certainly the business seems fast-paced and with no signs of slowing, as Hartley says: “There is an investment, there’s a vision, there’s a desire and there’s a hunger.” He continues: “Those things are really meaningful because you can communicate with confidence what you are doing”, concluding: “If you have a strategy that’s one thing, but if you have a business behind you that can deliver, that is really exciting.”
Q&A: Ruth Storey
Head of marketing for digital appliances at Samsung Ruth Storey gives an overview of the past 12 months and what to expect from the company going forwards in 2020
How are Samsung large household appliances sales developing?
In 2017, Samsung set out a strategic plan for built-In, underpinned with key milestones to achieve. These included our range launch at KBB in Birmingham, as well as a targeted UK display drive throughout the UK. Our milestones keep being surpassed and we are actively building on relationships and product training to support all the retailers new to the Samsung brand.
What has the reaction been like to the Kitchen Circle of retail support?
We have received an incredibly positive response to the launch of the Kitchen Circle. The programme was developed to support, educate and reward our retailers and to ensure they felt part of the Samsung brand. We want an open relationship with our retailers and to feel like we are building this business together.
What services will you be adding to the Kitchen Circle and why?
We have just launched the Samsung Ambassador Training programme (SATP). Three core modules have been created for kitchen retailers around the Samsung portfolio. We are also looking to add live cookery demonstrations and event support, as well as rich media and social media support for websites and consumer engagement.
Has anything surprised you on your retail journey and what you learned?
We have huge respect for all our competitors, but we have learned there is definitely an appetite for something new in this channel. We are not coming in to be a ‘me too’ brand, we have a clear strategy, innovative products and functionality that adds value to the retailers and consumers. The feedback from retailers show they want great products from a great brand that engages and builds relationships on a local level.
Tell us about your London showroom opening…
We will have a Samsung showcase space at Coal Drops Yard, the new Heatherwick studio-designed shopping and lifestyle district in Kings Cross. Samsung KX LDN will bring the latest technologies to life with curated experiences. It will also be an excellent space to show how multiple Samsung devices and services come together to deliver a complete and harmonised experience; making consumers lives easier and more convenient.
Is the company where you expected it to be at this time last year?
We are in fact in a much better place than we expected to be! Thanks to the incredible hard work from the sales team at Samsung, the support from the teams at Waterline and our retailer partners, we have exceeded every target we set ourselves back in 2017. The speed of the estate growth and the level of commitment from the retailers and consumers has been truly humbling.
What are the next steps for Samsung?
Connected living is a huge focus for Samsung and telling that story is a big focus for us over the coming months and years. We are excited to be at KBB in 2020 where we will meet with existing and prospect customers, alike, listening to feedback and building the business together.