There are a few obstacles to success that every local appliance store must navigate and overcome:
- Competition from big box stores
- Supply chain issues
- Inflation and consumer spending habits
- Shrinking profit margins
However, even as independent businesses face these challenges, consumers know these companies deliver better service and quality products and are there to serve customers long after the transaction.
As the new year approaches, United Consumer Financial Services explores the most crucial independent appliance industry trends for 2024 and how you can position your business to succeed in this market. Read on to learn more.
Supply Chains and Inventory Management
COVID-19 highlighted the near-universal fragility of the U.S. supply chain. When logistics came to a halt, so did sales –– and profits –– for companies in many industries, including independently owned and operated appliance stores. Orders that once took a few days to arrive now require a lead time of weeks or months. Inventory management has never been more crucial to the success of independent appliance stores.
Local appliance companies must create and implement a robust inventory management strategy to maintain sales and customer satisfaction. These stores can no longer allow lapses in stock, relying on suppliers to deliver products when needed. Global supply chain disruptions and longer time-to-delivery require companies to know what’s on hand, what’s in demand, and when to order to receive the parts and equipment their shoppers need.
Proactive, thorough inventory management isn’t optional. Independent appliance store operators see the necessity of adapting to the new landscape of a post-COVID retail space. The smallest businesses aren’t immune to stocking issues; inventory management is the answer to ensuring sufficient stock and meeting customer needs when it matters most.
Delivering a Showroom Experience
Creating an engaging and interactive in-store experience is a crucial strategy for small appliance stores to differentiate themselves from larger competitors and build a loyal customer base. This approach involves transforming your physical store into a destination where customers shop for appliances and engage with your products, brand, and staff.
After years of an e-commerce-heavy marketing approach, stores realize that shoppers want an in-person experience incorporating the digital benefits they’re accustomed to. You can invest in informative product displays showcasing various appliances’ features, benefits, and usage to achieve this. For example, a demonstration kitchen where customers can see appliances in action can be highly effective. This provides valuable information and creates an immersive experience that encourages customers to envision these appliances in their homes.
Knowledgeable and friendly staff play a crucial role in enhancing the in-store experience. Train your employees to be experts in the products you sell so they can provide detailed information, answer questions, and offer personalized recommendations.
By offering this level of engagement and education, you make the shopping experience more enjoyable and informative and build trust with your customers, making them more likely to return for future purchases and recommend your store to others.
Increased Connectivity in Smart Appliances
Smart appliances have emerged as a significant trend in the appliance industry, and shoppers aren’t turning back. Independent appliance stores can capitalize on this trend to thrive in the marketplace. Here’s why this trend is crucial for independent appliance stores:
- Differentiation: Offering smart appliances sets you apart from competitors –– especially other local appliance stores who haven’t caught up –– attracting tech-savvy customers.
- Consumer Demand: Smart appliances offer convenience and energy efficiency, aligning with the growing demand for connected homes.
- Home Automation: Cater to the smart home trend by providing appliances that can be seamlessly integrated into automation systems.
- Cross-Selling: Smart appliances often complement other smart devices, allowing cross-selling opportunities.
- Customer Education: Educate customers on the benefits of smart appliances, enhancing sales and loyalty.
To thrive in the marketplace, it’s essential to stock a diverse selection of smart appliances, keep up with the latest developments, and train your staff to be knowledgeable about these products. Promoting the benefits of smart appliances and providing excellent customer support in setting them up can help independent appliance stores remain competitive and relevant in the rapidly evolving industry.
Incomes are rising. The cost of new appliances is rising. However, the consumer price index (CPI) for major appliances is following a downward trend. That means that even though income and costs are increasing when adjusted to match present-day costs, new appliances are less expensive than they have been in the past.
With a lower CPI, appliances (generally) are of lower quality. They break down more often, and the cost of repairing this equipment is more than the price tag of buying new appliances.
For independent appliance stores, the downward trend of the CPI means fewer repairs and opportunities for servicing appliances, which have traditionally been significant sources of income for small businesses. However, it also means customers buy more replacement appliances, increasing sales.
Independent businesses must understand how CPI affects quality, service, and sales to adapt their approach and thrive in the 2024 marketplace.
Offering Consumer Financing to Help Sell More
Even though appliances are technically less expensive – dollar-for-dollar, than twenty years ago – inflation and a fragile economy significantly affect the purchasing power of many of your potential customers.
Shoppers want and need flexible payment options to bring home appliances. Consumer financing is the solution to increasing affordability while maintaining cash flow and boosting sales.
With consumer financing from United Consumer Financial Services, customers spread the large, upfront costs of high-value appliances over time, increasing the possibility of more easily making their purchase without impacting their daily budget. This, in turn, increases sales as you can appeal to a broader customer base, including those who might hesitate to make big-ticket purchases.
Customers with a positive financing experience with your store are more likely to return for future purchases. Financing options often result in higher average transaction values as customers realize they can afford additional items with a financing plan. Financing will positively affect your sales and revenue.
Monthly payment plans are essential. Shoppers expect flexibility at checkout. Partnering with UCFS to deliver financing solutions allows you to serve the shopper while growing your bottom line.
Capitalizing on Independent Appliance Industry Trends
Adapting to customer demands and expectations requires businesses to understand trends, engage with them, and evolve. Explore the trends we’ve reviewed here. Consider how your appliance store can capitalize on these trends to serve your customers better and set yourself apart.
And when you’re ready to facilitate sales, United Consumer Financial Services provides the financing solutions that empower your customers to purchase. Contact our team today to learn more about how consumer financing from UCFS can help your independent appliance store sell more, increase order values, and boost customer satisfaction.