Hybrid retail turns local Sheffield showroom into national supplier

Virtual consultations have helped one kitchen retailer win business from a wider area while offering busy local customers a more convenient service.

Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens (SSK), like many kitchen studios, had no choice but to switch to using digital, online consultations when the pandemic forced them to close its showroom temporarily, but found that this enabled them to sell to customers outside their usual geographical area.

Now, SSK runs a hybrid model of  consultations online as well as in person.  

Founder and managing director Rob Cole (pictured), said of this boost to business: “We found that remote selling, via virtual consultations, allowed us to service markets that had previously been out of geographical reach. We started designing and delivering kitchens and bathrooms to people looking for a sustainable and bespoke approach to their homes, who were happy to source them from a distance.”

He added: “Being flung into the world of digital consultations was a shock, but we embraced virtual selling like everyone else. It was the only way, after all. We developed processes for distributing sample materials and drew on the support of our website more than ever before. The 3D interactive kitchen model on our homepage and our extensive kitchen gallery were helpful tools we could show clients.   

“The pandemic required customers to meet retailers halfway by adapting and adopting virtual consultations. Many of our customers are seeking sustainable alternatives for their kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, perhaps early adopters in mind-set and lifestyle. Clients being agile in achieving these virtually, helped us along the way.” 

Cole soon saw that the business was taking on a new shape.

“While we are currently not offering a fitting service nationwide,” he explained, “this growth is an exciting development. Now we are talking to clients across the UK, from Scotland to Cornwall.”

And there have been benefits when dealing with more local customers, too.

Cole added: “For the local market, we are finding that once they have had a face-to-face consultation and connected person-to-person, many customers are happy to move conversations online. Where it would have previously seemed alien to do this, clients find it can add convenience for busy lives, streamlining communication.”

And this fits well with a company that has sustainability at the very core of its philosophy.

“New methods of selling are certainly more sustainable and fit better with our company ethos,” said Cole. “Fewer face-to-face consultations mean a lower carbon footprint with reduced travelling. Increased digital presentations tread more lightly on the planet, using fewer printing resources by sharing designs, plans and renders digitally instead. Remote selling also does what it set out to do in the first place – reducing the spread of infection, keeping people safe and well.”

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