Editor, Kitchens & Bathrooms News
With rumours rife that Villeroy & Boch is set to follow the lead of Kohler and Daryl by restricting sale of products online, I wonder about the value of an anti-internet or interNOT policy. Is it the best solution for preventing product discounting and helping high street retailers to retain their margin? I realise etailers can be a major concern for many bricks and mortar retailers, as without the overheads of a showroom they can work on smaller margins and offer buyers greater discounts. I also understand banning the sale of products online would give high street showrooms back the pricing advantages they crave. But do interNOT policies protect all high street showrooms or only the exclusive few – the technophobes?
What about the high street bathroom showrooms who have been astute enough to embrace and invest in e-commerce? Are they now placed at a disadvantage, as manufacturers could refuse to supply their showroom with products if they also sell online? What message is that sending out to a retail industry which (like the designs they create) should be forward-thinking?
Rather than fighting against the internet, after all it's here and here to stay, shouldn't suppliers help showroom retailers use it to their advantage? It's where consumers do their research and where they can - and frequently do - buy. Surely, then, we should praise and encourage retailers to offer the best of both - the security of a showroom and the ease of e-commerce?
And is internet discounting really the only threat to independent high street retailers? What about DIY giants that are improving the quality of their offer for low prices? Or what about the threat from local bathroom showrooms who are prepared to undercut, at all costs, just to win the business?
Perhaps the focus should actually be on equipping high street retailers with the sales skills to counter internet traders. Could suppliers help train staff in high street showrooms to better handle price objections and promote the benefits of buying in-store rather than online?
I’m not saying interNOT policies aren't a valid solution. My only query is are they the best solution to prevent product discounting and helping high street retailers retain their margin?
But what do you think? Please feel free to add your comments.