12 Things to Think About in the Kitchen and Bath Industry Over the Next 5 Years Part III

12 Things to Think About in the Kitchen and Bath Industry Over the Next 5 Years Part III

A Golden Opportunity Awaits you the More You Embrace Technology

By Thad Whittenburg


Every time there are advances in technology in an industry, you are sure to see shifts in market share. There will be “winners” who embrace these changes and “laggards” who refuse to move their businesses forward and adopt to the new world.

Think about industries like video rentals and Blockbusters or how national book store chains have all but disappeared. On-line clothes, shoes and grocery shopping have certainly changed those industries quickly because there is an absence of value or convenience for the consumers to head out to those stores. Other products like cabinetry will move at a somewhat slower pace towards new models based on all the different steps related to the sale of them. This would include measuring, product selection, design, delivery and installation.

As I go through this, please keep in mind that I still believe that bricks and mortar stores will continue to play a strong role in future sales. (albeit they will need to be smaller stores with a lease cost of 2% or less of sales)

Let’s look at each stage of the process and how it can evolve in the future based on new technologies.

  1. Measuring – The days of using a tape measure on the job site are numbered. With products like Canvas or Google’s ARCore, along with many others available, it is only a matter of time before the accuracy and ease of use makes them a no-brainer. These will be utilized by designers, contractors, builders, and consumers alike.
  2. Product Selection – Here’s where actual stores will have a great advantage over their on-line competitors. People who are investing thousands of dollars on cabinetry will typically want to see it, feel it and get a sense of the quality. On-line pictures won’t always do the trick, now that being said, most on-line companies are providing sample doors or mini-bases for the customers to sign off on.
  3. Design – This can be done by outsourcing to full time on-line designers who are anywhere in the country. Smart design software will also only get better and will play a larger role in our industry. You might want to check out Merillat’s on-line kitchen planner. Customers are starting to do product selections and design their own kitchens before they even contact a Kitchen and Bath dealer. More changes to come!
  4. Delivery-This can certainly be done by 3rd party companies who are being used more and more often to get product to the jobsite. Delivering on your own trucks certainly has its advantages but the cost needs to stay in the 4-5% of sales range. That would include all operational expenses such as trucks, fuel, warehouse, personnel, insurance etc.
  5. Installation-Many kitchen and bath dealers will also have a big advantage when it comes to complex installations i.e. moving walls, electrical, plumbing etc. These things cannot be understood by measuring devices or executed without professional help. Pull and replace kitchens, which are the majority of remodels will be the ones that on-line companies will have the biggest opportunities with.

So, what does all this mean? It’s time to make sure your company is leading the way with open minds on how new technology can help your business grow and take market share. I strongly advise you not to be a “last to the party” company when it comes to these changes because it may jeopardize the future of your business.

If I can ever be of service, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and as always, I would love to hear your comments about this blog. thad@kbglobalpartners.com

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