Updated: Apr 30
Over my nearly thirty years in KBB retail, I have been through a number of recessions, credit crunches, pandemics, and even local economic issues such as the Rover factory shutting in Longbridge in Birmingham.
Whenever I, or others, have tried to second guess how a major event will affect the retail market, I don’t think we ever get it right.
The first point is, DON’T PANIC !
I see a lot of knee jerk decisions being made in case something might potentially happen in six months time.
While things will be different this year, they will also be the same.
Whenever you are quoting for a project in the KBB industry, you are first competing for the money, before you are competing for the sale.
So traditionally, your first competitor is a holiday company or a car showroom.
People usually have a list of things they want or need, and they need to decide in which order to get them.
And once you have won the money, you are then up against your competition in the industry.
But actually, how worried are people about the current financial situation in the UK?
Anecdotal evidence would suggest that footfall, enquiries and sales haven’t yet seen a big hit.
When I speak to shed retail and trade outlets, they haven’t really seen a slowing of the pace, and are actually busier than ever.
Independents are feeding back a similar story, although there is more talk of the number of enquiries slowing.
I’m not sure how that trajectory will continue this year, and there may be more of a fight for every customer.
So how will selling in 2023 look different to selling in previous years?
Firstly, I think customers will be talking a lot more about energy savings, and we need to understand where and how we can save a customer money in their new kitchen or bathroom.
How much does running a Quooker tap save in energy costs versus boiling the kettle or buying bottled water?
How much does running a tumble dryer compare against drying clothes on the radiator?
What do the energy ratings mean and what difference does it make to the customer?
What are different bathroom manufacturers doing to reduce the amount of water being used?
Previously, the customer would have wanted to know about the functions of the oven, the place settings of the dishwasher, or the soft closing of the toilet seat.
Now, as people are more aware, the questions will change accordingly.
And we need to be prepared.
Know your numbers and talk about them with confidence.
These days, the customer can be more informed than us on topics that are important to them, and they will have spent many hours researching before they even set foot in the showroom.
I speak with a lot of customers during my work, and I am hearing phrases such as “carbon footprint”, “sustainability” and “green energy” more and more.
The end user wants to know that they are being as ethically responsible as possible. And it is our job as KBB experts to make sure that happens.
Financing will also be an important factor to the customer this year.
Interest Free Credit, Buy Now Pay Later, or straight Interest Bearing Finance will be a big consideration for consumers looking to pay for a new project.
Cash will definitely be king in 2023, and if the customer can delay paying out for their new room until a later date, it will definitely be an attractive option.
While I am never a fan of advertising different finance options, especially the ones that cost you money as a retailer, I do think it’s important to have choices available if the customer needs them.
Sales and promotions might also have to play a part in the coming year.
Whether you are a fan or not of having a special offer running, the customer will be looking for a deal and will want to feel as though they have saved some money.
It doesn’t need to be a percentage off. It could be a free appliance, a deal on the installation, or a free gift.
Fundamentally, the process hasn’t changed.
We speak to the customer, we agree their wants, needs and budget.
We design their dream project and we take the payment.
The route of the customer journey might look a little bit different, but the stops and the final destination remain the same.