RETAIL | kbbreview Retailer Survey 2020

What do you think of your suppliers?

Back in 2017, an incredible 91% of kitchen retailers said that the service levels of their suppliers were a big challenge to their business – that has plummeted in our latest survey to just 25%. The equivalent measure in the bathroom side stayed relatively static at 34%. However, in a separate question we asked

them to

rate the service they get from their suppliers and 63% said it was good or excellent – and that was even across both sectors. Another 31% said it was average, meaning just 6% of retailers saw service from their suppliers as poor or diffi cult.

But, retailers want more – when we asked them what would make them switch from one supplier to another the top answer was ‘better service levels’ with a whopping 67%. Interestingly, the next top answer was ‘more innovative product’ with 54% followed by ‘better personal relationships’ at 50%. ANALYSIS: This is an astonishing result for kitchen brands and must surely be seen as a


Retailers who said ‘better service levels’ would make them switch supplier

vindication of the efforts they’re putting in but retailers clearly want, and demand, more from all their suppliers. The truth is

that it’s a buyer’s market and good retailers are in an enviable position of being wooed and seduced by new brands desperate for the display space, this means that even average service is often not good enough…

How do you market yourselves?

The established wisdom is that independent retailers get the majority of their business through recommendations, so do the numbers bear this out? Not necessarily…

Just under a quarter of our retailers said that recommendations account for 70% or more of their business. It is 57% for more than half of the business. That means 44% of retailers – a not inconsiderable amount – get less than half of their business from recommendations. That splits for the two sectors, in kitchens 60% of retailers get more than half of their business from referrals, but in bathrooms it plummets to 30%. So effective marketing for new business is clearly vital for a huge section of the market. So how do they do it? A good website backed up by social media is the most popular – and free – option. Nearly three- quarters said their website was their main marketing tool with 67% choosing social media too. The top paid-for marketing route was print advertising in local newspapers and magazines. The contradiction in all this is that with so many thinking their website is their principal marketing tool, many of them


Retailers who get less than half of their business

from referrals WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Let us know what you think of our survey results. How does your business measure up? What are the key numbers that jump out at you? E-mail the editor direct


don’t think very much of them – 12% said their sites were, at best, pretty poor. Just over half (56%) said their site was OK, but they had plans to make it better. Just a third thought their own website was fantastic and their shop window. We then asked how many customers they thought had seen their websites before they came into the showroom. Nearly half of them thought 50% or more had seen it. Just less than one-in-fi ve thought 20% or fewer had seen it. So surely you have to drive people to your website if it’s your optimum marketing tool? And, of course, you do that with data. However, just 16% of our retailers said they used e-mail as a marketing tool, just 24% said they maintained an extensive and com - prehensive database of previous, current and potential customers. Just under a third of retailers said they only took basic contact information when doing a quote.

ANALYSIS: If these numbers are a fair representation then there is work to be done on joining up the marketing dots. Websites are appealing as they are virtually free, but if no one is seeing them, what’s the point?


The same but different

That so much has stayed the same in the past two years is a

perplexing but

miraculous result, says kbbreview managing editor Andrew Davies

When we fi rst did this survey two years ago, it was fascinating in that it challenged many of my perceptions of how this industry

functions. The proportion of

business that comes from recommen- dations, for example, or what constitutes the middle-market in terms of average order value.

It highlighted just what an issue fi nding

good fi tters is – the scale of which caught me by surprise as someone who concentrates on the showroom side of the sector – and how little retailers don’t think they can or, more accurately, should translate what they do to online in a commercial way. However, heading into this survey I was expecting a lot of rhetoric on Brexit – I should point out that we conducted this at the end of November 2019 – and how uncertainty in the market and wider economy was making life very diffi cult. In other words, I thought this would be the

Brexit Survey. And once again, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only did Brexit crop up very little in comments, it seems to have registered very little as a challenge to overcome. Put simply, in the showrooms there are bigger fi sh to fry. Anecdotally, many retailers reported some

drop in footfall or customers taking longer to commit, but broadly speaking business is growing, value is up, positivity is up and we should all stop worrying (for now). For so many of the results of the 2020 survey to be similar to the 2018 survey is remarkable given the wider economic and political backdrop and that is my biggest takeaway from this rundown. However, maybe there is more retailers could do to help themselves. The biggest frustration from suppliers is that many retailers are too reluctant to change and embrace new ideas and, elsewhere, many retailers saw organic growth as their biggest opportunity rather than diversifi cation.

And, if this survey is a fair representation,

there is a lot more to do to drive footfall into those showrooms with joined-up, effective, measured marketing efforts.

And what to do about the shortage of

really good fi tters? This is an issue that will clearly run and run and there is no quick fi x. It will take time, investment, educative frameworks and collective effort to sort it in the long term. But in the short term, I’m thinking of giving it a go myself, I’m sure it’s pretty lucrative…

kbbreview · January 2020

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