Features, Home, Strategy and Operations

Online’s in the Kitchen

Major home appliances is the latest category we’ve seen experience a huge upsurge in online sales. Between free shipping and online-only specials, consumers are only too happy to do the majority of their research and much of their shopping from the convenience of their laptop or mobile device. Furthermore, when it comes to kitchen appliances, major purchases of the “big three” in the kitchen suite—refrigerator, stove and dishwasher—happen at very specific times. Understanding the calendar of how these purchases are made, and what other home related purchases are being made in conjunction and over time, can help retailers get strategic about when to approach certain target audiences – online, and off. If you’re an appliance retailer that already has some of a given consumer’s business, you can attract more of it; conversely, if you’re a retailer that wasn’t previously in that buyer’s trajectory, you have an opportunity to insert yourself in it.

NPD’s Checkout e-commerce information, which amasses millions of receipts from these purchases to analyze the data, points to two main “life moments” leading to the purchase of kitchen appliances. The first moment is the complete teardown and rebuilding of the kitchen, which we’ll call the kitchen remodel—for this event, we’ve seen some customers purchasing the entire kitchen suite of appliances in one day. The second moment happens when someone buys a new house and goes about replacing the kitchen appliances as they give out, not necessarily touching the cabinets or countertops—a kitchen refresh.

As you can see, the differences between a kitchen remodel and a refresh mean that buyers will approach appliance purchases differently. The customer making the sweeping purchase, in one day, of all matching appliances—possibly with the architect’s or designer’s hand in it—is on a very different calendar from the new homeowner who’s replacing her broken fridge and then waiting a few months for the next good sale before buying another appliance or two.

Likewise, how they approach future purchases of smaller add-on items could vary. Further analysis of NPD’s Checkout e-commerce data paints a dynamic picture of kitchen suite buyers, one that shows their purchase rate on a variety of home-related products – from home improvement categories like faucets and lighting, to housewares products such as pots and pans and tableware—over the months prior to and following their kitchen suite purchase. Buyers appear to furnish their kitchens with small kitchen appliances soon after the kitchen suite purchase. Then, as they settle into their new creation, they go through a “showing off” phase, acquiring updated housewares to entertain in the home and share their latest kitchen updates. That major appliance purchase has much more meaning and sales potential surrounding it than may appear at first glance.

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Home Retailers Can Capture More Share

According to our Checkout e-commerce data, online kitchen suite buyers spend an average of $30 more per person on housewares purchases than all other online purchasers of major home appliances. And among kitchen suite buyers who purchased housewares products within 30 days of buying their appliance suite, 54 percent of that housewares spend was at Amazon – this is a wakeup call for retailers to strategically connect with these customers in order to win some of that spending power. How can they do it?

The most obvious way is to fine-tune your marketing approach to your customers as they enter this New Kitchen life moment. Knowing when to make them offers for additional appliances puts a smarter spin on the current approach of blizzarding them with offers.

Concurrently, retailers can make offers for non-appliance products they know their customers will be buying through this journey. This might mean that the retailer expands their own product lines into some of these ancillary (but still lucrative) categories to include complementary products. In relation to a $35,000 spend on a kitchen remodel, another $700 line item for new tableware and updated kitchen electrics seems reasonable, especially in the exciting end-stage of seeing a new kitchen vision become reality.

Capturing the home renovation consumer’s attention in this sequence-aware way can prove very rewarding—purchasers of appliances spent 23 percent more on tabletop purchases than the average housewares buyer; over 50 percent more on home environment appliances; and more than double on small kitchen appliances. We even found that overall tabletop spending related to a new home purchase or home renovation was 20 percent higher than bridal occasion spending on the same products in 2017.

Another winning strategy for retailers to regain market share is to build partnerships with complementary retailers, such as a home improvement outlet with a housewares retailer, in order to get these products in front of the customer at the right time, and in a way that links, if not their purchase, then their loyalty back to you. Understanding where the opportunities lie outside your categories is a viable way to grow in this market.
Data can help you see these hidden relationships and purchasing sequences. Where else is your customer shopping? What is your competition offering that you don’t? Examining purchasing sequences and calendarizing your marketing efforts allows you as the retailer to reinsert yourself back into the buyer’s path, then figure out where there are opportunities to maximize wallet share. Even well-established retailers can’t afford to sit back and be passive in this environment—it takes work to understand how and when the customer buys and what she wants. And data can help shine the light on that.

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