“Scary. I think would be the summary for everyone”, says Tom Bayliss, UK Sales Director at Kettle Interiors Agency when reflecting on the beginning of the pandemic. “We learnt a lot very quickly though”, he continues “and with each lockdown, we were able to make faster, smarter decisions for our customers.”
Having started in 2003, the company’s near two-decade history of providing innovative solutions for the interiors retail market has resulted in Kettle Interiors being known within the industry as the ‘complete furniture supplier’. When asked what it is that sets the company apart, Tom reflects, “In total honesty, I think it’s the flexibility and a choice of how our customers can access products. That supply chain is something we’ve heavily invested in for many years now. It’s complex, but it has so much choice and meets any retailer’s requirements.”
Those services include anything from a small £250 carriage paid with delivery to any mainland postcode within 7-14 days, right through to two container programmes, with the opportunity to choose from a mix of more than 890 products with no minimum order quantities. What’s more, the team can also cater to any size dropship order within the UK in 7 days, using their own fleet of vehicles and support from specialist team members to get products to customers fast. “It’s about having a very large selection of products with the flexibility that, no matter the size of business or retailer you are, you also have choices on how to access them. You could also use our services to iron out stocking issues or bolster your online offering quickly and effectively.”
Following a year that can only be described as challenging for everyone, Kettle Interiors’ priority became making decisions to support not only their business but their expansive network of customers too. “Naturally, I think everyone was extremely worried. We took a lot of time preparing our business but also tried to make some very quick decisions. We wanted to ensure our customers felt supported by us as much as possible. The major focus was remaining operational, especially in the areas our customers required us to be.”
“After that, our focus very quickly shifted to supporting retailers in a digital capacity.” Here, the Kettle Interiors team introduced a number of changes to support their customers, making huge investments in improving the imagery available for customers to use, both in style and quantity, as well as fully employing click and collect options as soon as they became an allowed option. The team’s fully owned and operated fleet, which has doubled in size since the middle of last year, only adds to the service, as customers also continued to explore, evolve and expand online operations of their own.
When asked if digital is something they plan to continue exploring even as traditional retail continues to open up, Tom answers, “Absolutely”. He continues, “Even before the pandemic hit our shores, we had already been ramping up our drive to increase digital capabilities. We recognised the changing needs in access to imagery - to include different styles and showcasing various details - and also the necessity of infrastructure to support dropship sales, even to the point of offering customer integration and employing specialised staff who understand those businesses and their needs.”
“We had a bit of a planned pipeline already, but, with stores being closed, we dialled our efforts up to 100% very quickly across the entirety of the business. It was all about speaking to customers to find out what we could accelerate to improve the situation for them immediately, and that commitment to service is definitely not going away. As we make the exciting return to exhibitions, we will have so much to talk with people about, both from product development and digital solutions points of views.”
The Kettle Interiors range is made up of a multitude of collections, from all sorts of styles and origins. On where they get their inspiration for new designs, Tom explains “We’re very fortunate to have really strong relationships with our customers and always take their valuable feedback on board. We span 28 countries now, so we try and seek inspiration on what’s working in different markets as much as we can. In the UK, certainly, we very much like to focus on bringing the most commercial product to the forefront, however with some unique twists and blends to give them a distinctive Kettle Interiors product feel.
Of what’s coming next, “I won’t give too much away just now, but it’s definitely going to be an exciting, refreshing year. I think with the market changing how it has over the past year, we’ve had the opportunity to explore different directions and can afford to be a little bit more adventurous again. You’ll certainly see bolder colours and more unique designs. I suppose one of the positives to draw from lockdown is that we’ve been given the time to think about new ideas and product development. And that’s really what we’re hoping to showcase very soon.”
Planning to hit the road in 2021, the team will be going on a roadshow of sorts, touring a van filled with samples across the country. They’ll be starting off with designs showcased at a small in-house event in September last year, with plans to refresh the tour presentation every 2-3 months. “Each of our fantastic sales reps and agents will have access to the van. We’ve really missed interacting with our customers, so we’re encouraging them to book appointments asap. We’ve already had a fantastic response, so, hopefully, it will be a breath of fresh air for those wanting to get involved.”
For more information on Kettle Interiors Agency or to arrange a roadshow visit to you, please visit www.kettleinteriorsagencies.com