Blanco's national sales manager Craig Condie reveals how presenting customers with elements of 'experiential retail' can help make a connection – and also make that sale.
"As a passionate supplier to dedicated kitchen retailers and merchants, we hear about the ongoing quest for innovative ways to attract clever consumers into bricks and mortar premises – when they can all open fully! After all, they are expensive buildings and the retailer wants consumers in the showroom!
"'Experiential' shopping is much talked about as an answer to the challenge of pushing people off screens – and that’s where retailers and merchants need to focus their marketing and imaginative energy just now. The definition of 'experiential retail' is this: “By integrating technology and personality into the shopping experience, retailers are able to attract and retain customers. Experiential retail turns the boring experience of browsing, trying and buying into something fun and exciting. Using things like augmented reality and interactive technology adds a new dimension to the shopping experience.”
"Okay, okay… I know what you are thinking – 'Buying a kitchen isn’t boring, they are already invested and engaged'. That definition was a generalisation. We do know that KBB retailers have a far more engaged audience than Tesco or TK Max, but we also know that potential customers will still shop around – even those referred into your showroom. So an experience that they will remember – one that makes them think and, crucially, one that makes them believe you understand them and have their best interests at heart – will be an influential point of difference.
"When a consumer is considering a new kitchen in these post-pandemic days (and lots of people are!), you can bet your bottom dollar that they have seen the huge advances in terms of kitchen technology and gizmos – on the TV, social media and 'home sourcing' websites. They have seen a hot tap, an audio system, the latest ice-dropping fridge; but, until they actually see and feel and use it, I'm not really sure they will realise they 'need' one! And that is where the retailer needs to bring theatre into the showroom. How can the retailer create scenes where the newest tap, sink or waste system – in Blanco’s case – is actually used, not just demonstrated?
"I recently discussed a real-life situation to illustrate my point in one of our sales training sessions. A retailer was waiting for a couple to arrive for their appointment and the wife came in alone saying her husband was struggling to find somewhere to park. The retailer offered her a choice of teas or a coffee – she opted for a herbal tea. The retailer made it with water from our 4-in-1 tap in a glass mug to show the purity of the water, and then went outside to help with the parking panic. When the husband sat down for the first time, he enjoyed a glass of delicious, filtered cold water from the same tap. And was then offered a tea or coffee – he wanted Earl Grey tea, but no bother, there were loads of trendy options on display! So, in that short space of time, the tap was seen and used – but not pushed. They bought one! They needed one! They knew they would love one!
"These appointment-only days have actually given an opportunity for retailers to shine. You know who is coming in so you can prepare for them; get to know the family’s lifestyle beforehand so you can prepare a customised 'experience' for them. Prepare the scenes.
"We have been doing this for years at exhibitions, as well as in customer product training at our own showroom, online, and in retailers' showrooms. These kinds of personalised demonstrations are crucial in guiding the purchase decision. That information and the realisation of just how this sink and tap combo can make their kitchen life easier, offers a tactile approach that is completely unique compared to an online experience (far more challenging without a lot of delving and initiative from a buyer).
"There are so many amazing inventions for the hi-tech kitchen that simply must be seen to be believed, trusted and experienced. Ovens, fridges, smart technology, media, remote operation – the list goes on. Demonstration with differentiation – that’s what delivers and sets the kitchen retailer apart."