Appliance lead times are stopping us from upselling, says kitchen retailer

Kitchen retailer RFK is being held back by appliance shortages from upselling to higher-spec models as delivery times cannot be guaranteed.

Tom Setchell, managing director of the Rugby-based retailer, said that RFK is for the first time ever having to hold stock of its best-selling appliances, but has to stop short of talking to customers about higher-spec products as Setchell does not want to disappoint them on delivery times.

In-store events at RFK have also been affected, not just because of Covid safety concerns over having lots of people in the showroom, but also for fears over demonstrating products that may have very long lead times.

Speaking exclusively on The kbbreview Podcast, Setchell said: “It is so difficult to market, especially with installations, where we don’t have various appliances from the major brands. From a retail perspective, I always ran cooking demonstrations for customers and now I don’t feel like I can’t do that. We have so many barriers in the way now, even down to how many people we feel comfortable having in the showroom at one time.

“I don’t have confidence in the availability of the appliances we would want to demonstrate and upsell from. We are doing our best to manage it. We are keeping stock of all of the best-selling products, which we have never done before, but it is very restrictive not to be able to upsell and talk about benefits of the higher-end products. But we cannot do that at the moment because the last thing we need is to get to Mr and Mrs Jones’s kitchen and tell them the oven that we have been harping on about hasn’t arrived.”

Business is steady at RFK with the company booked up to Christmas and forward to January, which is about a month ahead of a typical year. However, it believes that the boom that most retailers have experienced since the end of the first lockdown might be coming to an end.

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With the cost of living going up thanks to rising fuel and energy prices and interest rate hikes on the horizon, Setchell has already witnessed a slowdown in footfall. However, the quality of leads that are coming in is better, with people ready to buy. So, despite the reduction in footfall, the books are still full.

Setchell said: “We are already seeing that the major peak is over. We are very aware of what is in the news at the moment with fuel prices going up and there is a lot on the horizon, like interest rates, that will impact everyone.

“Footfall has defiantly slowed down a bit over the course of the past month, and it was slower than in September. That said, the quality of the leads we are getting is good so I am not overly concerned as that means that we can offer a better service to those who come and our conversion rate is good at the moment. We have a nice steady footfall, but it is certainly at the level we saw in the summer.”

RFK has a retail and a contract arm and both are busy. The company is also looking to hire new designers to help with the current level of demand. Looking to the future, Setchell is hoping that the supply chain issues will soon be ‘ironed out’ so they can continue to supply customers in the way they used to.  

  • Listen to the full interview below or at the-kbbreview-podcast.simplecast.com

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