PJH head of sales Rick Adams reveals how the bathroom and appliance distributor has levelled the playing field by investing in ways to support both bricks-and-mortar and e-commerce retailers.
The rapid growth in sales from ‘Bricks & Mortar’ retailers PJH is seeing is extremely good news, especially when you consider how the arrival of online competition was once touted as signalling their demise. Much of this success can be attributed to the innovation of the independent KBB retailers, in partnership with distributors and suppliers, to successfully differentiate their products and services, adding real value to the customer experience. In fact, looking at the figures it appears, both channels can, on the whole, happily co-exist, using each’s own strengths to enhance sales.
Levelling up the playing field, the role of the distributor or supplier has evolved considerably in recent years with the successful ones investing constantly in ways to support both channels, helping and embracing the opportunities each sales channel provides. Industry leading digital technology has enabled PJH to launch the ‘Your Label’ initiative, this is proving to be incredibly popular allowing retailers the ability to sell the entire PJH bathroom product range online via their own e-commerce websites, with PJH providing or supporting unique product names, codes and product information. PJH can even apply retailers’ own product names and codes on the packaging label as well as deliver the product direct to customer homes, for a completely seamless retail solution. ‘Your Label’ removes the age-old issue of like-for-like on-line price comparisons and window shoppers who spot something they like only to then go looking for the product cheaper on the internet. It also gives both channels greater brand protection, allowing them to develop and grow through their own exposure and recognition.
Independent retailers through reputation, location and always on-trend styles and designs stocked, work hard to attract customers into their showrooms, but equally they are embracing technology to enhance their sales offering. However, having access to a virtual showroom is great way for retailers to extend the way they showcase their products beyond the limitations of physical showroom space. Customers get to see, touch, and feel products on display, but also explore additional ranges, alternative colours and finish options together with the support and advice of the retailer. Augmented reality is also gaining traction, allowing customers to even visualise products in their own homes too.
Of course, being able to get products into the hands of customers quickly, from stock, means services like next-day delivery are essential and a good way independent retailers can secure a sale and match or better the online competition. The growth of our own next-day delivery service available to 91% of the UK is testament to this as a sales differentiator, whilst Partners Portal features such as allowing customers to choose delivery windows and track orders can only help this further.
It is important that any initiatives aimed at supporting either the independent retailer or e-commerce channels are underpinned by a clearly defined ‘authentic’ strategy and the willingness to invest continuously to support them. PJH has packaged its service offerings collectively under the banner Bathrooms to Love BOND, which makes it clear how its 5-star ‘First Choice’ service supports both channels as well as defining its commitments such as Brand assurance, Online price protection, New and exclusive product ranges, and Display and showroom support (‘BOND’).
The online sales channel is here to stay, but so too is the place for the traditional bricks and mortar independent retailer. With a little bit of regular innovation, each can successfully win business without having to fear the other beyond it being a driver of change. Distributors can make a difference too, aligning its services and products to meet the contrasting needs of both channels, but more importantly, each’s own unique customer base.
We invested and launched our ‘BOND’ and ‘Your Label’ initiatives for our Bathrooms to Love brand earlier this year, which are both proving successful with both our online and offline retail customers, having generated some extremely positive feedback already. We will continue to monitor and grow such initiatives in response to retailer reviews and experiences, with the one goal of always striving for the happy co-existence of both sales channels.