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16th June 2017
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Why less will always mean more for the successful independent kitchen specialist
Bill Miller, Managing Director of The Kitchen Bathroom Buying Group, is urging independent kitchen specialists to appreciate the value of the adage, 'less means more' when updating their kitchen displays.
"Very simply, says Bill, "Customers want to be enthralled and wowed by your kitchen displays - not confused. By showing fewer, but larger layouts, you will have more scope to show your design flair and be able to show realistic sized settings, which relate more closely to an actual, real world kitchen. Do not confuse your customers with unnecessary clutter and too much product for the eye to handle.
"During my travels around the country, I often come across well-meaning independent retailers who believe that they will secure more sales by showing the widest possible choice of brands, styles, designs and colours, but are in reality not actually specialising in anything other than confusion! The 'covering all the bases' and 'more is more' concept sounds so appealing. How can you possibly fail if you display as much product as possible, thereby offering something for everyone?
"In truth, the confused or underwhelmed customer becomes uncertain and is simply less likely to buy.
"Chances are, they are already unsure of what they want when they enter your showroom, but when confronted by a supermarket-style jungle of endless options, the bewilderment escalates.
"Today's customer, visiting an independent kitchen specialist, wants and expects to be excited by the products they see. They need to view product displays that exceed their expectations, feeds their imagination, and builds their desire to be part of the lifestyle on show."
Bill urges independents to retain their focus and concentrate on those important aspects of their business that set them apart from their competition...
"Independents need to be aware that the national retail chains continue to up their game and have huge marketing budgets to attract customers to their outlets. Independents need to differentiate themselves; they have the local expertise and specialise in a way not possible for a national retailer. They need to have a clear, consistent message, which is confident and reassuring, not that of a retailer who is unsure.
"Each store display needs to be well thought-out, not just in terms of individual presentation, but how it will impact on the showroom as a whole. The very best showrooms take their customers on a journey with each display leading seamlessly to the next.
"Never forget that you have a tremendous edge over the multiples in terms of the knowledge and the after-sales service you are able to offer. You are the specialist, so specialise, and convince your customers that what you have on display is the very best they can buy. Too much clutter, and too many displays or choices, will only serve to devalue your brand.
"One well designed and thought-out kitchen display will have much greater impact, and lead to greater sales, rather than several smaller displays in the same area.
"You are not just selling kitchen furniture, you are selling a lifestyle. Do your research thoroughly on your catchment area and your customer profile. Talk to people at length, when they visit your store, and establish their aspirations. Take some time out of the business each month to visit other local retail outlets both national stores and independents. What lessons can you learn and what works and what doesn't? "Most of us have an instinctive talent for ascertaining other people's aesthetic tastes and preferences. Use your findings to form a solid, viable and attractive game plan - and then trust it!"
Bill also reminds independents not to underestimate the huge advantage they have with their superior product knowledge...
"You already have a head start with the knowledge that your customers have come to you because they appreciate the quality, service, advice and experience you offer. Do not disappoint them by offering them quantity instead. There is nothing at all wrong in trying to appeal to different customers. But there is a right and wrong way to do it. Less will always means more.
"Select your brands and the displays sparingly; make your store layout clean and punchy without being overwhelming. Pre-plan your traffic pattern and create a mood of warmth, quality and space.
"Those showrooms, which offer the greatest customer impact, focus as much on creating light airy open spaces within their showroom, as much as the product displays themselves. They recognise the importance of giving their customers the opportunity to stand back and view the products on display from a number of angles, rather than simply seeing space as an opportunity to cram more products on display.
"Remember too that even the best showrooms need to be refreshed as customers tastes change. What worked last year may not be so saleable this. Market trends and changes are evolving ever quicker. As a forward thinking independent kitchen furniture retailer, you need to be ahead of the curve, because if you are not, then you are not making the best use of your resource, and almost certainly your competitors will be."
18th July 2014