Not so secret service

Kbsa chair Richard Hibbert tells retailers to talk about their service offer online

17 Jan, 19

As DIY online stores are blasted in the Which? annual survey, chair of the Kbsa Richard Hibbert says independent retailers should communicate their service offer on their websites

Not so secret service

The independent retailer has been in competition with the DIY chains since they entered the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom market.

It is interesting that having built their offer from a basic product range and no service into a better quality offering, with an installation service, that some have recently dropped the installation service and gone back to supply only.

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DIY chains have always competed on price, offering the consumer a complete kitchen solution at a set price and with substantial discounts at varying times of the year.

For the independent retailer, the key differentiators have always been service and quality, offering design skills, advice and a full installation and project management service.

Given this background, it is no surprise that two major DIY players have come out so badly in the recent Which? survey into online shopping.

A business that doesn’t have service at its core in its physical shops is not likely to have it online.

Promote service online

The Which? survey result reinforces what independent retailers already know, that service is key to their success.

What is important is the need for independent retailers to communicate this online, when shoppers are deciding where to visit at the beginning of their buying journey.

The internet has made it easier for retailers to promote their businesses alongside the DIY chains, without having to spend millions.

Those that work hard at having a good online presence will be rewarded by being visible in local Google searches.

It is also easier now, than before, to have a good ranking by organic rather than paid-for means, providing more of a level playing field whatever the size of business.

Showcase knowledge

Another related survey from AMDEA, regarding how little time people spend researching appliances online, also highlights the need for independent retailers to promote their knowledge online an in the showroom.

Those buying a one-off appliance to replace one in their kitchen are likely to do more online research and be more focused on price rather than those buying a number as part of a new kitchen.

In this case, the independent retailer can use their knowledge to demonstrate the difference between models and brands.

They can help the consumer make more informed decisions about how the appliance will work for them rather than just price.

Retailers could include blogs about how to get the most from different appliances or to help consumers choose which one is right for them.

In the showroom, demonstrations and cookery events can enhance the customer experience and again differentiate the retailer from the DIY chain.

Make navigation simple

Some complaints about the DIY chains’ websites related to the sites being confusing and difficult to navigate.

This is key for any website as the consumer wants their research to be easy and quick.

Having an easy-to-navigate website with good content that illustrates knowledge and service, as well as lots of recommendations, will give the consumer confidence.

And it will help retailers bring customers into their bricks and mortar showrooms.