Exclusive: Two-thirds of retailers are considering changing suppliers

In an exclusive kbbreview survey of how satisfied retailers are with the service they get from suppliers, 67% of the bathroom retailers and 61% of the kitchen retailers told us they were considering a change.

While the retailers we surveyed in confidence told us that some manufacturers had upped their game, there were still some serious issues that are causing real concerns among retailers.

When we asked them to rate the customer service they received, only 12% of bathroom retailers and 5% of kitchen retailers described it as ‘excellent’ compared with 44% and 55% respectively who said it was ‘poor’.

Reflecting the fact that some suppliers had made strides to improve their service, 60% of bathroom retailers and 88% of kitchen retailers admitted the level of service they are receiving had got better over the past 12 months and none said it had got worse.

But with two-thirds of them considering a change of supplier, this suggests that prior to 12 months ago, they had already become dissatisfied with the service they were receiving.

67% of bathroom retailers are considering changing suppliers

Our poll showed there were three main areas where retailers felt suppliers could improve their service. They were: Supply Chain – singled out by 56% of kitchen retailers and 44% of bathrooms retailers; Honesty and Transparency – 55% of kitchen retailers and 33% of bathroom retailers, and Frequency of Visits from Reps – 33% of kitchen retailers and 22% of bathroom retailers.

Marketing support was also a big area of dissatisfaction for 28% of kitchen retailers, while for bathrooms retailers more (33%) took issue with the level of technical support they are getting. And bathroom retailers in particular complained of an unwillingness among their suppliers to help with the problem of internet discounting.

Kbbreview also asked those retailers that had actually changed supplier in the past 12 months what qualities had attracted them to their new partner. Top answers were product availability (40%), the willingness to build a relationship, good communication (30%), honesty and transparency and better policies to deal with the online threat.

We want to be able to speak to our suppliers without having to wait on the phone for one to two hours and then not get to speak to the correct person

One retailer said they were looking for “suppliers who actually want our business, are keen to build a relationship with us that works both ways, so we aren’t just another account”.

For retailers who were still thinking about changing supplier, our poll asked what qualities they were looking for. More than three-quarters of bathroom retailers listed their top two as ‘honesty and transparency’ and ‘stock availability’. They were tops for kitchen retailers too, of whom 44% and 66% respectively singled out those qualities.

Good communication was also high on their wish lists, with one retailer saying: “Many companies have an inability to listen to the concerns of trade partners when simple implementations could be introduced to aid all concerned.”

Another told kbbreview: “Give clear, concise information about delivery expectations. We want to be able to speak to our suppliers without having to wait on the phone for one to two hours and then not get to speak to the correct person.”

Another acknowledged that bricks-and-mortar showrooms need a real support package from suppliers, many of which are now selling direct to consumers: “Currently it looks like the suppliers are not interested in taking care of their trade partners and are trying to gain market share by going direct.”

Keeping in regular contact with showrooms was also a important requirement in a new supplier. One retailer advised: “There needs to be regular local contact. Some suppliers are very quick to chase sales growth via online accounts and not think about the impact on those investing in being the brand’s shop window.”

55% of kitchen retailers described the service from suppliers as 'poor'

• Read the full story in the July issue of kbbreview

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