Retailers are key to simplifying product choice, say suppliers

Opinions were varied among suppliers kbbreview polled at kbb Birmingham as to whether there is too much product choice for consumers, but most agree that retailers play a key role in making the selection easier for consumers to manage.

Speaking to kbbreview, Stuart Dance, director at InHouse – a subsidiary of Schüller – thought that some companies have too many products in their portfolios. He said: “When there are too many handles, it slows down the sales process. Why have 150 handles on a board in your shop when 75% of the market is handleless?”

He explained that InHouse has focused on its core range in recent years, but he still believes suppliers need fresh products in their portfolio to create interest. He concluded that: “Choice is good but as a mass producer you still need the core products.”

Wes Osborne, sales director at Königstone agrees with Dance, also believing that there is too much choice in the market. He said: “We started with six colours, and are now on 30. We have to be conscious of our offering, and make sure we don’t have too many. Some other suppliers have about three times as many.”

However, Osborne also pointed out that there is a need for suppliers to invigorate the market constantly with new products, explaining how: “We feel that you have to stay in front of the game and what is coming out next and keep on trend, because otherwise you can so get left behind.”

Michael Linsky, founder of Sensio Lighting, believes that there are too many products that aren’t adding value. He said: “Some [are] different shapes or shades – this isn’t adding value, it’s complication. There are so many decisions a consumer has to make when choosing a kitchen or bathroom and we are creating complexity. Innovation is only about solving problems.”

However, Bill Miller, managing director of the Kitchen Bathroom Buying Group (KBBG) said that the idea of varied choice was integral to the market.

“That’s rubbish. We need choice. Retailers need choice. They need a choice of suppliers, and a choice of buying groups. Choice largely drives innovation and we need innovation. And that’s what kbb Birmingham is about. Giving people choice. It gives retailers the choice to work with suppliers they haven’t dealt with before.”

Similarly, Jake Naylor, managing director of Hanex UK, believes that choice is important because without it, suppliers, retailers and consumers are more limited in their options.

He elaborated: “Our job as manufacturers and suppliers is to give the retailers enough choice to be able to complete their projects. They know their customers much better than we do.”

He also explained how a wide collection of choices can help cater for changes in taste and style. “We could give a retailer a box with 100 colours in it, and if they’re only going to sell 10, then that’s fine. A showroom down the road might want a totally different 10. A showroom in the south of England might want a totally different set of choices to one in the back end of Scotland. Everyone has different tastes.”

Michael Hardwick, UK business director of Asko, believes that suppliers should give retailers as much choice as possible, and then use their expertise to simplify the process for their customers.

He explained: “I think that the retailers that we are looking to work with do a really good job of handling that selection for retailers, they then go and show a curated collection of products. Ultimately, they do a really good job of cutting through that noise for their customers. It’s our job as suppliers to try and convince them that we’re the supplier for them, and that we can support them really well.”

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