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Home Office vs. Showroom: the evolution of the home improvement sector

The home improvement sector has transformed significantly over the last few years. The once unshakable stronghold of bricks-and-mortar showrooms at the heart of operations now faces a formidable contender – the home office. Online sales have risen to a record 33.9%1 share of retail spending as a new wave of tech-savvy consumers rise, reshaping the home improvement landscape and swaying the decisions of potential home renovation investors.

Is this a fleeting trend or the industry’s destiny? Here, Will Frankling, the founder of innovative home improvement franchise, Kitchen Makeovers, delves into the dynamic adaptation of such brands to the ever-evolving consumer behaviours.

A changing horizon

Today, societal transformation is an undeniable aspect of our reality. With 44% of British people now working from home, in a hybrid setting or remotely2, the sector has seen a fresh era for the realm of home renovations. Our homes have assumed greater significance, turning the kitchen into a renewed nucleus of daily existence. And while the cost-of-living crisis continues to have an impact on households across the UK, home renovation remains a top priority for many. In the pursuit of transformation, entrepreneurs and consumers join forces to explore cost-effective alternatives.

Although recent years have witnessed glimpses of rejuvenation on the high street, footfall remains well behind pre-pandemic levels. High streets, retail parks and shopping centres registered 11.5%, 5.3% and 20.3% lower footfall respectively since 20193. The rise of a youthful, eco-conscious cohort of online shoppers has spurred an industry-wide evolution. Consumers clamour for sustainable affordability, propelling emerging brands within the sector to embrace change and innovation.

A challenger unveiled

The emergence of the home office as the focal point has garnered significant momentum, replacing the idea of a traditional showroom with a vibrant digital alternative. This ingenious transformation seamlessly delivers online showrooms to customers’ very doorsteps.

As the need for a physical showroom dissipates, companies savour significant cuts in overhead expenses. These newfound resources can be reinvested into pivotal domains, including sales, marketing and business expansion. The surge in demand for online solutions not only caters to a burgeoning customer base but also shapes these sought-after services into more budget-friendly and fiercely competitive offerings. This evolving model aligns not just with the ebb and flow of market dynamics but also positions itself as a pocket-friendly and customer-centric solution.

Digital alternatives could well be the ‘secret ingredient’ craved by the burgeoning tech-savvy generation in their quest for kitchen transformations. This is validated as reports highlight millennials account for 44% of all online retail shoppers in the UK4 – a trend destined to grow with future generations as well.

The echoes of tradition

While digital innovation soars, the tried-and-tested showroom model perseveres, a testament to its resilience and effectiveness. The allure of experiencing products in a tangible space retains an indelible charm. This duality demands that companies masterfully balance the pursuit of forward-looking digital strategies with the innate needs of consumers who yearn for hands-on engagement.

The art of conveying knowledge and professionalism in person endures as a valuable asset that cannot be as easily conveyed online. As online sales surge, a vast market segment continues to relish in-person shopping. So, while the conventional showroom faces competition, it would be hasty to declare it obsolete. Instead, the traditional showroom must adapt, aligning itself with the ever-evolving landscape. At Kitchen Makeovers, for instance, we have adapted to bring the showroom to the client. A blend of customer engagement and new-age technologies enables clients to picture clearly in their minds the kitchen renovation project outcome from the sanctuary of their own home.

The home renovations sector is changing, whilst the showroom model used to dominate the sector, technology and a new generation of customers have shown that competition is growing. The kitchen renovations market is a large one and, even though the showroom isn’t going away anytime soon, the home office and in-home customer experience looks set to become a fierce competitor to the established norms.

For more information about Kitchen Makeovers:

1 Elizabeth Cooke, 2022, The death of the high street? Future-proofing our centres

2 ONS, 2023, Characteristics of homeworkers, Great Britain: September 2022 to January 2023

3 British Retail Consortium, 2023, Return of the weekend shopper

4 MoneyTransfers, 2023, 20 Insightful UK Online Shopping Statistics for 2023