Rhys Phillips, Channel Manager at Knightsbridge, argues that buying patterns are changing and with them come fresh revenue opportunities for the merchant in terms of stocking and selling electrical accessories.
Stocking electrical items, be they wiring accessories or light fittings, is nothing new to the merchant sector and some would claim they’ve been doing it for years. But there’s reason to look afresh at this product group, if only to attempt to combat the challenge from the major online players and to satisfy the increasing influence of the focus on end-to-end supply that many builders and developers are pursuing.
Builders are looking for efficiency, where administration is minimised and working time is maximised. Online purchasing and Click & Collect have helped deliver that. Hand in hand with that is just the sheer range of products that can be sourced at the click of a mouse, all either delivered or collected in one trip. This in turn helps schedules, and keeps projects and builds on track.
No one can doubt the inroads that online has made into the market share of merchants, but the trade counter remains an important place of commerce for the trade. So why not try to take the online players on at their own game and offer products, such as electricals, that might increase the share of wallet?
Furthermore, there are clear market trends that would support such an approach. Home Improvements are on the up, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. And as more people have worked from home, saving money in the process, the emphasis on home improvements has grown — as is evident by Kingfisher’s share price, which in April 2021 reached its highest point since 2016.
This refreshed love for our homes and living space is driving refurbishments and rewiring upgrades, spurring demand for electrical accessories and lighting products. Indeed, a survey of householders by the HomeServe Foundation revealed electrical work is taking over a quarter of the budget (27%) allocated to home improvements by the British public, suggesting that there is a great opportunity for sales of electrical and lighting devices to flourish.
That doesn’t mean having to become a fully-fledged electrical wholesaler. If one bears in mind that approximately 20% of types of product — such as sockets and switches — account for around 80% of sales, then simply stocking a range of core products is likely to increase the share of wallet for the merchant, with little downside and only a minimal footprint.
In our experience, stocking a range of high-volume lines is the way to go. At Knightsbridge we have a ready-made turnkey solution to unlock this opportunity, which — in partnership with the merchant — can be tailored to each individual circumstance. This would encompass the above-mentioned switches and sockets in a variety of popular styles and finishes, as well as the more utilitarian items such as cooker connection units, pattress boxes, enclosures and terminal blocks.
In other words, a comprehensive basket of products that a home or residence needs for a build or refurbishment.
Another consideration is stocking one product that has many functions, such as the Knightsbridge range of BT CCT adjustable LED bulkheads. This ‘one product, numerous solutions’ approach allows inventory to be kept to a minimum while offering the buyer a product that meets a variety of needs.
Having decided on a stock profile, it really is incumbent on the branch to merchandise the products as effectively as possible, though we can support with a recommended planogram as required. This means utilising a front-of-house approach and not letting stock sit in brown boxes back in the warehouse.
Here, eye catching point-of-sale displays or countertop promotion is really important in achieving customer buy-in — if they can’t see it, they can’t buy it. It’s amazing what a well-stocked, well-presented POS unit can look like, and the format doesn’t have to take up a great deal of space either.
In an era where the boundaries between merchants, wholesalers, depots and DIY stockists are becoming blurred, there’s no good reason not to expand your offering to include electricals. After all, your customer might thank you for it!