Retailers underestimate online, kbbreview survey reveals

A major new kbbreview survey has found that dealers could be missing a trick with online.

The poll of 200 KBB retailers was published in our landmark 400th issue (January), and signalled the official build-up to the kbb Birmingham show. It found the vast majority (84% of bathroom retailers and 95% of kitchen retailers) didn’t operate a transactional site.

Many may also be underestimating the proportion of people viewing their websites, with just over half of bathroom dealers believing that fewer than 30% of customers had seen their website before coming in-store.

For kitchen studios, 37% said that between a fifth and a half of customers visited their sites beforehand.

Meanwhile, there was a large disparity between kitchen and bathroom studios on how much of a threat online retailers pose.

Kitchen retailers said they didn’t view online dealers as a threat to their business, whereas 31% of bathroom dealers saw web-based retailers as their main competition.

None of the bathroom studios surveyed believed multiple retailers such as Bathstore were a rival, whereas 17% of kitchen studios viewed multiples such as Magnet as serious competition.

When asked what retailers saw as their greatest challenge, 43% said that competing with online retailers was a difficulty.

More than half (59%) of bathroom retailers cited ‘competition with online dealers’ as a big threat to their business, and only 8% said that using the internet as an advantage to their business was a challenge.

This compared with 30% of kitchen dealers who said that using the internet as an advantage to their business was a big challenge.

The majority (80%) of retailers agreed that it was important to have a good website backed up by social media as part of their marketing activities.

However, less than a third (31%) thought that their websites were “fantastic” and “the perfect shop window”. Just over half of bathroom retailers and 61% of kitchen retailers said their websites were just “OK”, but claimed to have plans to improve them.

The overall top answer for the biggest challenge facing retailers was finding good fitters at 57%.

More than a third (39%) said they use their own fitters, while 44% relied on subcontractors and just 17% opted for a mix of both.

However, those selling only, or mostly, kitchens said they tend to use their own fitters more than bathroom dealers, with exactly half choosing this option, compared with just over a quarter of bathroom retailers.

  • For the full survey results see kbbreview January issue, pages 64-68
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