Kitchen retailers that can provide error-free design through an enjoyable experience will always get ahead.

In a world of Pinterest, Instagram and dozens of home design magazines, there has never been more inspiration for those wishing to create their ideal home. And yet, while consumers may be inundated with design ideas that build the idea of a perfect room, pulling them together into a well-designed, functional space is still a challenge and nowhere more so than in the kitchen.

The kitchen should be the heart of the home. However, get the layout wrong, and consumers risk venturing into kitchen nightmare territory. This can be a heartbreaking and expensive position, having invested heavily, both emotionally and financially into a redesign project. So, what options can retailers offer consumers when it comes to ensuring that the process of installing a new kitchen is a positive one?


The trouble with kitchens

Online retail has completely changed the buying process for any purchase, and kitchens are no exception. Although many of the final purchases are still made in showrooms, customers are making far more decisions at home, before the consultation process with the kitchen retailer even begins. Although this gives consumers more control and influence over the redesign of their home, it comes with challenges.

Functionality is perhaps more important in the kitchen than in any other room of the house. It has to be a workable space, and this means taking into account the principles of kitchen design from the outset. Issues arise when the consumer vision for their new kitchen does not comply with the rules of kitchen planning; allow them to proceed unchecked and you risk a customer unsatisfied with the end result, correct the mistakes and you risk alienating them – it can seem like a lose-lose situation.

The ability to browse online has lengthened the sales cycle as customers browse far more before looking to buy. This poses a real challenge to kitchen retailers, namely, how to build relationships with customers that are committed to shopping around.

It’s no secret that kitchens are the most expensive room in the house when it comes to redesign and a potential kitchen sale can be halted in its tracks by spiraling costs. Customers will most likely be working to a budget and need to be aware from the get-go of costings as the design comes together.

Of course, reciting the pitfalls is all well and good, but the real challenge is understanding what can be done to avoid them and ensure error-free design.


The simple approach isn’t always the best

There’s the ‘better the devil you know’ approach. Forcing customers to keep their existing, functioning layout and simply offering a modern design. Yes, it means that the water supply is in the right place for the dishwasher, but it takes away the opportunity for creativity. For many, a new kitchen is an opportunity to make the space more functional, update and upgrade it to suit their needs and to add a sprinkling of creativity, inspired by the heavily targeted marketing that comes from months of researching new kitchens.

Customers want and expect more from a kitchen retailer. They are expected to work magic when it comes to kitchen redesign, so how can they deliver on a customer’s vision, without sacrificing practicality?


Expectation vs. Reality

The key to ensuring a positive process for customers, from start to finish, is maintaining a strong grip on reality throughout the design and installation process. If planning starts at home, then that is exactly where kitchen retailers need to begin guiding their customers to ensure an error-free final result.

This is where 3D rendering comes into play. Not only does this offer an engaging solution for potential customers, that in and of itself, gives retailers an advantage, but it is an opportunity to bake functionality into the kitchen design from the outset. Take HomeByMe Kitchen Planner; this allows retailers to add over 300 intelligent business rules, such as taking into account kitchen work triangle principles, recommended distances between open doors and workspaces, and health and safety considerations to name a few. If a consumer tries to design a kitchen layout in a way that doesn’t comply with these rules, it automatically guides them to make a better, more practical decision. It also offers transparent pricing so budgets can be monitored throughout, taking away a customer’s worry that they might design their dream kitchen only to find it is out of their price range.

It offers peace of mind to the customer – they know they have been guided towards their ideal kitchen and have been able to do so in the comfort of their own home and without the time pressure of making big decisions in-store. Plus, for the kitchen retailer, it mitigates risk. They are protected from the backlash of customer dissatisfaction that comes with selling an impractical kitchen and it acts as a safety net to ensure there is no human error on the part of the sales rep when finalizing the order.


Picking up on pain points

Customer loyalty has never been harder to secure. Plentiful choice means retailers have to really excel to win customer loyalty and by beginning the sales cycle online before a customer enters the store can give a powerful edge. Not only do you allow customers to make guided decisions in their own time, alleviating the need for the hard sell, but by beginning the process online, it’s possible to take away the heavy lifting of getting to know a customer. Sales teams are handed a huge amount of data on preferences and pain points at the outset and can make recommendations accordingly. The result is a much more positive sales process, the customer feels understood, confident in the design and far more likely to recommend the kitchen retailer.

Ultimately, kitchen design is always going to be a challenging process for the customer. By providing a solution that guides error-free decisions and allows them to focus fully on the aesthetic of their kitchen, customers have easy access to the best of both worlds, a practical and beautiful kitchen that works for them in their home. Those kitchen retailers who are able to provide this buying experience are set to have much more satisfied, confident and loyal customers.


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