Managing director of the KBBG, Bill Miller says there’s never been a better time
All recent consumer surveys point to the fact that independent retailers are winning the battle against the national retail chains, particularly when it comes to a big ticket purchase, such as a new kitchen. It is the 50+ age group who has the money to spend, and it is this customer group who values the advantages offered by an independent retailer, such as a local and personal service, a wealth of knowledge and experience, and a high quality product offer. These customers are probably purchasing their second or third kitchen, and so have a clear idea of what they want. It is the independent retailer who is best placed to meet their needs in a way that a national retail chain cannot hope to match, no matter how much they invest in staff training.
Add to this the recent pension changes that bring the consumer an opportunity to realise some of their pension pot as cash, many will decide to use this to invest in their home with a new kitchen at the top of their shopping list. This has the double benefit of adding value to the home, as well as affording the home owner the opportunity to enjoy their new kitchen. This is driving a significant increase, this year, in kitchen enquires and sales through independent kitchen specialists, but not all retailers are seeing this. Consumers are being very selective where they are spending their hard earned savings. Retailers need to make sure they are positioning their business correctly in order to reap the benefits.
There has probably never been such a wide range of well-designed or high quality kitchen products available to independent kitchen retailer; whether that is appliances, furniture, worktops, sinks or accessories. Good design and high quality is no longer the preserve of the most expensive and exclusive product ranges, these are now readily available at very affordable prices. In addition, the latest generation of kitchen CAD systems enable the consumer to see their dream kitchen come to life before their eyes. This gives the independent kitchen retailer, as never before, the means to exceed their customers’ expectations.
The overall quality of independent kitchen showrooms has never been better, although there is still room for improvement. Many kitchen businesses now have showrooms that effectively compete with the very best retail outlets in any business channel. Independent kitchen retailers need to be clear who is their target customer, and then build a business best able to meet the needs of this customer. It no longer makes sense to try to be all things to all people, specialise and strive to be an expert in every product area.
Mean more to less
Simplify your business, rationalise your spending, so that you spend more with fewer suppliers, this not only reduces your administration but also gives you greater leverage with your chosen suppliers. Display products and build relationships with suppliers who support you and offer products that are best suited to your target audience. If the supplier does not clearly support the independent channel, then why should you support them? Be bold, brave, specialise and make your business the very best it can be. The rewards await those who can achieve this.