September 1, 2017

The Gold Rush

Kitchen retail is something of an artform. Some see the future of the industry going high tech. What needs to happen is much more grounded in reality.

A large amount of kitchen retailers who joined the industry during the 1970’s and 80’s  saw the promise of a kitchen gold rush, along with the UPVC revolution it looked too good to resist. With the right to buy and the abundance of home owner incentives it was easy to see the appeal of setting up shop.

Forty years of experience later have seen a solid retail model develop. In the process many business have become the trusted first point of call for consumers.

The kitchen industry along with the entire home improvement sector saw the internet in the mid 1990’s as a novelty. Tesco was the first to see the value in home shopping having done trails as far back as 1984. By 1995 Amazon had emerged and quickly became one of the most well known and profitable retailers online. Their business model designed purely for e-commerce, unquestionably changed retail habits in the process. The experience left many businesses wondering how they could develop a similar idea themselves.

By the time most kitchen retailers chose to join the race in the 2000’s. They also chose to bring with them the same business logic that had served them so well on the high street.

Generation Y or millennials as they have become to be known. Having grown up with online access as second nature,  are much more likely to buy online. Yet consumers in the 25-34 range make up a small percentage of overall market share  Were as the baby boomers will more typically go online to find and research the industry, interacting in a more traditional way.

The issue is, from a consumer perspective

there is no discernible reason to order your kitchen online than from the high street. Mainly because by enlarge they are one in the same.
We have seen some amazing advances in recent years. From new methods in manufacturing to computer aided design which has evolved in a way that I could have only have dreamed of a few short years ago. Even ordering online has become an everyday for many, allowing for fewer mistakes, ironically the same point of view I heard ten years ago when placing an order longhand.

When we start to bring a customer’s idea to life, we are spoiled for choice. Although all the gadgets in the world, will not replace experience. When a customer places an order they are confirming their trust in your knowledge and your teams craftsmanship.

To innovate within the industry we must give the consumer choice.

That is not just about making sure they have a new way to access the expertise although that is to be applauded.
Until the industry moves away from the click and mortar model seen so far and take full advantage of a fresh approach to e-commerce consumers will continue with their current buying habits.

In fact in the last few years we have seen a return to the high street, as consumers yearn for the enhanced experience you can only get in store.

This Article was featured in the September 2017 edition of KBB Review.