Appliance e-tailer tells independents to ‘grow up’

John Roberts, managing director of successful e-tailer Appliances Online has slammed independent dealers who blame the internet for loss of business.

Roberts said he had no sympathy for independent dealers who lambaste online retailers and believes they should “grow up”.

“Independent dealers need to face the future and stop moaning,” he said. “They need to do something, rather than bleating about being fully equipped with all the skills and experience the world doesn’t need anymore.”

He went on to comment that independents have the “ultimate advantage, as they have a person standing in front of them who they can build a relationship with”.

He also warned that exclusivity on appliances to independents would not be helpful as more than 90% of customers search first online for appliances that they then purchase in-store.

“Customers buy from retailers they trust and if the exclusives are more expensive, then the price comparison tools will highlight this in seconds. Retailers should focus on being brilliant retailers and not a protected species.”

For the full feature, see the February issue of kbbreview

Kitchens Kitchens writer Jeff Russell thinks that whilst there is some truth in what John Roberts says, that his comments do little other than to inflame the issue and drive the wedge further apart between traditional independent dealers and online retailers.

“John Roberts is right in what he says about some independent dealers thinking they are a protected species but you cant be protected against progress via the internet and independent dealers will have to face up to the challenge and accept the internet and embrace it, rather than shy away.

However, having said that, the appliance brands do need to review their models as what incentive is there for independent dealers to stock particular brands (and give up retail space to) if the independent dealers are going to be undercut?

Many independent dealers are accepting the situation and are trying to revise their own models but with more price comparison sites on the way the ‘consultative’ and ‘creative’ nature of kitchen design and planning is something that isn’t taken into account in the comparison tools, yet that does seem to be the last saving grace for the independent dealers?

As is now being put forward about the High Street in the wake of HMV, Jessops and other big name retailers falling by the way side, perhaps the consumer should think about the phrase ‘use it, or lose it’?”