Wednesday, 15 June 2011

EDITOR’S COMMENT: InterNOT policy for kbb industry

Philippa Turrell
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.


  1. Does this mean that an online transaction is to be ceased or a complete web presence of a brand on a particular website?

    Surely brands cannot stop a website advertising the brands they sell in-store. This happens already and more often than not the online functionality is unavailable but "call this number to recieve a 30% discount". Is this an internet sale or a offline sale?

    InterNOT surely can only be adopted by large brands who can cope with the drop in volume and who are fed up with dealing with the squabbles of 5% here and there.

    This will see an increased fight for the lower end market and the door opens to the DIY offerings.

    Never have I seen a market where superbly designed goods go to market straight away at a staggering discount. Perhaps the pricing terms to the retailer are the best route to counter the internet.

    Reacting to the net will always end in tears as it moves too fast

  2. I think it's a bit of a myth - that the internet retailers have it easy and are unfairly discounting and undercutting showroom retailers.

    You say that - because they don't have showrooms - they can work on smaller margins ... and yet, many of the best etailers do indeed have showrooms (like Appliance City just down the road from me). They also keep a lot of appliances in stock - and actually have larger premises than many high street showrooms.

    Nobody these days believes that it's cheap to get a website to rank well in the search engines - surely? Etailers need either their own staff or to pay someone else, to work on promoting their websites ... they need people to actually work on maintaining the websites ... they need telesales staff to answer the phones (and in the best businesses those staff are very well trained)... they need warehouse staff ... they need delivery drivers ... and some have their own vans and lorries.

    It's not because their overheads are low that these places charge low prices. It's because they have invested heavily in a nationwide business and because they work on very high sales volumes.

    Discounting is more common in very small businesses - where one man (or woman) bands, in particular, are willing to forego the profit on appliances (or posh worktops) - to get the kitchen sale (or the fitting work, or both).

    Banning internet sales is not the answer. If manufacturers want their appliances to be beautifully displayed in high street showrooms with low volume sales - then they must adjust their pricing policies accordingly.