Provide a service that the internet cannot

Lighting is an easy sale online but, for big-ticket items that are an integral part of a kitchen project, Sycamore Lighting sales director Gary Wilson believes customers still want to try before they buy

Q: How’s business compared with last year?
A: 2015 proved to be a record year for Sycamore Lighting, with two of the months recording the highest turnover figures since the business was formed in 1998. Drivers of the growth have included our new products that were introduced across all our sectors, with specific focus on the KBB market.

Q: What are the main challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?
A: As with all areas of business these days, the markets are saturated with suppliers, products and promises.

The end user can cross-reference most products from an aesthetic and price point of view, via the internet, and some do make decisions on the back of that research alone, without actually seeing any products. However, with big-ticket items we tend to find that people want to see the product and receive advice to ascertain how it can bring their dream kitchen, bedroom or bathroom to fruition.

Therefore, we encourage our clients to include lighting in their displays or on boards, and we carry out training within those businesses to the sales and design experts, which gives them the confidence to promote the products to their customers, and ultimately provide a service that the internet cannot.

Q: If you were opening a retail showroom in this market, what would be your strategy?
A: I would identify which level of the market would offer the greatest opportunity to build my business and tailor the displays and my overall business plan to meet the demands of my specific target audience.

I would have an internet reference page, but would want to push people into visiting my showroom, and feel if they are serious prospects, the website should be designed to get that footfall. Once someone is in the showroom, then the choice should be available between traditional and contemporary, and the advantages of having a “one stop shop” for all things KBB.

Q: How do you think the relationship between retailer and suppliers is changing?
A: With technology moving quicker than ever, retailers need to be kept informed of the advancements, and what better way to do so than to engage with the “experts” that cover the product selections of their choice.

Regular training from suppliers also enables the retailers to offer best advice to their clients, while bringing added value to their business. In the past, supplier reps were basically order takers, but retailers are looking for much more than that now, as they seek to gain advantages from USPs over their competitors.

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