Retailer reputations on the line as big brands struggle with supply chains

A top KBB retailer has said he’s been ‘hung out to dry’ by suppliers who haven’t supported him in explaining supply chain nightmares to clients.

Shehryar Khan, proprietor of Sheraton Interiors in Twickenham (pictured), revealed on the latest episode of the kbbreview podcast how one customer was literally holding his reputation to ransom.

When appliances did not arrive on time for this customer’s installation, he said that unless Sheraton Interiors paid him the difference, he would post a bad review online.

Khan said of the threat: “As a husband-and-wife team, we have worked so hard to build our reputation and our brand and to have this thrown at us was distressing.

“We were trying to inform them before we actually started the installation. What we got back a barrage of abuse from an extremely unhappy customer. They said, ‘why didn’t we order the appliances earlier?’ They also accused us of not managing our supply chain.”

He told kbbreview: “I do understand there are genuine issues, but I just feel perhaps they can support us so we can all get through this together. I feel retailers have been hung out to dry.”

He continued: “It’s not the first time that we’ve had to deal with say a client being unreasonable, but this time I just felt helpless because it’s completely beyond our control. You’ve got all these large suppliers with absolutely no information on their websites about any delays or supply chain disruptions.”

Khan said he felt that manufacturers had a responsibility to support retailers in this situation. He said: “Retailers up and down the country are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds with these brands and I really do feel they have a responsibility.

“All these big brands have some questions to answer, but unfortunately there’s a lot of silence around and some retailers may remember this and rethink their partnerships going forward. While we understand, I just feel we need a little bit more support that is consumer-facing.

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Khan points to the fact that the same manufacturers are also benefiting from surging demand with their turnovers increasing accordingly. He said: “I feel let down. The big brands are disclosing all these substantial growth figures. We know that demand is really high right now, but it would have been good PR for them, especially for independents, who probably account for a large chunk of their business, to assign a very small chunk of those double-digit growth sales to support us. All we’re asking for is a little bit of help so that if we have a disgruntled client, we have somewhere to go and show that it’s not our fault. Because clients automatically assume it’s our fault.”

Also sitting in on the podcast was reputation management expert Andrew Hulland of Igniyte. He had this advice for retailers facing similar problems with bad reviews: “You have to take the conversation off-line as quickly as possible. Where bad reviews are being used as a threat, there isn’t a great deal you can do in terms of preventing that from happening in the first place. You need to pre-empt this and ensure you have a strategy already in place to deal with it as and when it becomes visible online. “If they continue this campaign of publishing negative reviews, it has to be dealt with. It shouldn’t be something you have to deal with on your own as a business and there should be guidelines and people who can help you on these review platforms.”

To hear the full podcast, click below:

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