Independent retailers need to draw on their expertise to clinch appliance deals and prevent potential customers from purchasing online, says Waterline sales director Robert Taylor.
Appliances have long been a tricky sector of the market for independent kitchen retailers, who often find they miss out to un-matchable online deals and the consumer’s desire to shop around rather than purchase as part of a package.
Speak to any kitchen specialist, as I frequently do, and ask them to identify the 5 biggest challenges in their business and they will all say the same. High on their list will be the feasibility of selling appliances. Why? It’s all down to the erosion of margins by large internet sellers and consumers increasingly taking to the web to find the best deal, telling the retailer not to include appliances as part of their new kitchen as they’d rather source them themselves.
However, in the present climate where maximising every opportunity and profit potential from each sale really matters, perhaps it’s time to rethink your approach to those appliance sales. At Waterline we champion the independent kitchen retailer and most importantly we want to help.
Think about how you give your quotations to a potential customer, for example. If you’re giving a quote for say a Crown kitchen with quartz worktops and appliances all fitted, giving the cost as a total rather than breaking it down into individual components can encourage your customer to think of it in the same way – that they are getting a complete package, so why go anywhere else?
You wouldn’t see a luxury car manufacturer giving a price and the consumer quibbling over the tyres, asking them to leave them off because they can get a better deal elsewhere! It’s the same logic – a package deal.
If we take a step back and consider it, it’s fair to say that many of these large internet appliance retailers wouldn’t even exist in the same way without the independent kitchen retailer. The independent showroom is where the desire for a new kitchen and the sales opportunity is created. And the retailer more often than not will do a lot of the leg-work in helping consumers whittle down their appliances choices too. It’s a crying shame then that the independent retailer misses out, with the consumer taking their custom online, to shave a few pounds off the quote. Why should the retailer lose that sale?
It’s infuriating for sure, but it can also cause a litany of problems. Perhaps the biggest problem is that when a consumer orders their own appliances the retailer loses control. How will you know if the appliances will arrive on time, with their kitchen furniture, when the installers are booked to be on site? This can be costly and result in fitters not being able to complete the job but still needing to be paid for their time.
Order through Waterline and you can be sure your furniture, appliances, sinks and taps and worktops will all arrive perfectly on time, in one delivery. What could be simpler?
And that’s before we address the issue of service. If a dishwasher, purchased elsewhere, breaks down and a service engineer comes to site, they may ask for the kitchen fitter to come back to remove the integrated door and plinth. This inevitably puts the retailer in a difficult position.
We’ve even heard from retailers where a customer called up to say how delighted they were with their new kitchen, but unfortunately the fitters had left some boxes behind. When asked what boxes they were, it transpired that they were appliance packaging for appliances purchased online!
There are a number of ways to get around this conundrum. Firstly, position your quote as a whole project price. If a customer insists on a price breakdown, it is of course up to you how you want to apply your margins on the quote. As a retailer you have the right to represent the project on a quote any way you deem fit. You will know the margin you need to make on the overall job, but you don’t have to disclose your buying price for every item.
Consumers have become adept at internet surfing to try and get a better deal on products that are easy to find and appliances fall squarely into that category. So you could look online at what the cheapest price for a particular model is and put that on your breakdown accordingly, as long as your project price still comes out the same to give you the margin you need. Or of course, you could quote a fitting charge for any appliances not supplied by you, which should make it unattractive for them to go elsewhere.
Always remember, you are the specialist and you have the expertise. Often, customers have come to you through recommendation and because they are looking for a service they can trust. Don’t let internet retailers benefit from your hard work and toil.