Lakes Comment: Q2 2020

Mike Tattam, Sales & Marketing Director Lakes is BMBI’s Expert for Shower Enclosures & Showering.

Lockdown had a dramatic effect on all areas of construction. But after the initial shock in April, the recovery has been faster and stronger than forecast.

The industry is positive, however the market is understandably cautious. Is this a V-shaped recovery driven by pent-up demand or the W-recovery predicted by economists who expect lots of downward pulls from regional lockdowns, mass unemployment, consumers switching to save not spend, and a still up-in-the-air Brexit throwing a spanner in the works?

We’ve all learned the value of strong supply partnerships in this pandemic, with manufacturers working hard with merchants to overcome supply chain constraints, while working safely and communicating clearly.

Merchants are adapting quickly to this new normal, converting traditional call and collect business models into click and collect, and setting up transactional sites as quickly as they can. Our personal purchasing behaviours changed almost overnight during lockdown, and since then many merchants and manufacturers have looked more closely at including online in the mix.

Yet online selling doesn’t work as well for higher-ticket or complicated products where people don’t always know the questions they need to ask and need expert assistance to guide them. They want to see how products work and want to feel the differences between different qualities and price, and they like the reassurance of proximity for the confidence and convenience of an accessible after sales service.

Not all merchants have the deep pockets to invest in the right retail technology and the scale to succeed, but an omnichannel strategy with online and offline combined is very effective in playing to merchants’ local strengths.

The steps and sequence of the customer journey may have changed, but we mustn’t underestimate the value of human interactions in that journey. The future of showrooms is incorporating the best in online and offline selling to deliver a holistic and safe customer experience. That’s the ‘new normal’ and it’s here now.

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Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.

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