Once a difficult category for independents, kitchen electrics has seen a revival in recent years, driven by product development and enhanced marketing efforts focused on key categories such as multi-cookers, air fryers and coffeemakers that tap into the evolving craft coffee lifestyle.
Most directly, the impact of this effort has been strong sales growth of products in these categories. Also, the added features and benefits built into these and other products have shown retailers that consumers will not shy away from products at higher pricepoints that help them meet a variety of needs.
Chief among them are the ability to cook healthy meals at home easily and quickly, and, with coffeemakers, the opportunity to make their favorite coffee shop-style beverage from the convenience of their own kitchens.
The news that more consumers are showing a willingness to invest in a kitchen electrics item that meets their needs and helps them overcome certain pain points is good for gourmet housewares retailers. While independent store owners have long spoken of the challenges of competing with big-box chains and global dot-commers in the kitchen electrics segment, the latest trends provide them with opportunities to stay ahead of the competition and better serve their customer’s needs.
Recently, GOURMET INSIDER® spoke with Jeff Curry, a buyer with brick-and-mortar store Everyting Kitchens and its online version, EverythingKitchens.com, in Springfield, MO, and Jessica Jones, owner of The
Kitchen Nashville in Nashville, TN, about their respective success stories when it comes to selling kitchen electrics in a highly competitive
Jeff Curry, Buyer
Everything Kitchens and EverythingKitchens.com
Unlike many independent retailers, EverythingKitchens.com’s history is rooted in the Internet. Its brick-and-mortar store, which calls Springfield’s Brentwood Shopping Center home, came second after consumer demand forced the brand’s hand.
“Our customers locally wanted a place to shop,” Curry said. “There is not another kitchen store in the area.”
The retailer’s kitchen electrics assortment, much of which lives online, features a broad array of products a consumer would expect to find at a kitchenware store. The goal, Curry said, is to stay clear of products at the opening pricepoint level that are carried by big-box chains and major online marketplaces.
“We know it’s important to offer some of the basics in an effort to fill the needs of our customers, but we stay clear of the cheaper things,” he said. “At Everything Kitchens, we are focused on the mid-range to the high-end with appliances.”
For example, in the air fryer category, Everything Kitchens offers an edited assortment that includes products from Philips, DeLonghi and Caso with items priced from $199 to $299.
Curry noted with a product segment such as air fryers, which is now broadly distributed at retail, he works to find products that offer newness and are equipped with a unique set of functions and features that are not found on most units for sale elsewhere.
“Our goal is to find those products that are multi-functional in an effort to set ourselves apart from others in the marketplace,” he said.
With any new product that is offered by a retailer, consumer education is key, especially with many of today’s new high-end kitchen electrics that are equipped with a broad range of features. Online, Everything Kitchens utilizes a host of professional quality videos that feature the retailer’s chef who highlights the features of select items, with product comparisons offered of key items.
A video comparison of air fryer/air fryer ovens from Philips, Cuisinart and Breville showcases how each cooked French fries and chicken wings, offered safety tips for each and even gave consumers the information about the amount of countertop space each unit would consume.
Everything Kitchens also finds success in carrying a large assortment of accessory items for KitchenAid stand mixers. However, with a variety of models, a big challenge for consumers is finding the accessory that properly fits with the specific stand mixer owned by the shopper.
“It’s not easy for the average customer to find which pieces and parts fit their mixer,” Curry said. “We are very knowledgeable about the products and can offer that type of insight. That allows our customer service team to shine.”
While Everything Kitchens has worked to stay on top of the latest product trends while combining the team’s wealth of knowledge and experience to its customers, the kitchen electrics segment still brings some challenges.
Top of mind for Curry is “cut-throat pricing” in the segment and some online retailers not abiding by what he termed “standard rules and obligations.”
“A lot of manufacturers are starting to wake up and realize that certain online retailers are not as beneficial as was originally thought.” he said. “Some [vendors]are partnering more with those that push and promote their brand.”
He noted that Everything Kitchens has worked to develop marketing efforts around SMEG, a supplier of high-end, fashion forward kitchen electrics.
“We have worked to tell the consumer what it is and why it is different,” Curry said. “This helps build sales and relationships with manufacturers.”
Jessica Jones, Owner
The Kitchen Nashville
Since opening The Kitchen Nashville at the start of 2018, the kitchen electrics category has been one that has forced Jessica Jones, owner of the Nashville, TN-based store, to be flexible in an effort to meet the needs of her customers.
When Jones opened her store, she had a clear vision in terms of the types of kitchen electrics she wanted to offer her shoppers.
“I wanted [the products]to be high quality and also wanted them to look nice when they are placed on a kitchen counter,” she said. “We started slowly at first but began to add more items to the assortment as we understood better what people wanted.”
The initial mix of items were from brands at the high-end such as Breville, SMEG and Vitamix. The branded assortment also grew to include products from Cuisinart as Jones wanted to give her customers a selection of goods at a broader range of pricepoints.
Over time, it became evident that shoppers at The Kitchen Nashville were attuned to the store’s selection of high-end kitchen electrics. Among the most popular items has been Jones’ selection of product from SMEG.
“I am surprised at how much SMEG sells in this area,” she said. “I did not expect that customers would come in and buy an item and then come back and buy another. The store has become a landing point in our area for SMEG products.”
While initially surprised at the velocity in which SMEG products were being purchased, Jones said she has found that while her customers are willing to pay $500 for a blender, there are many who want an item that not only functions at a high level, but one that is pleasing aesthetically.
The Kitchen Nashville has also found success in the world of sous vide. While the cooking style is still new to many home cooks, Jones said her store has sold a larger number of sous vide sticks from Frieling in recent months.
“We had customers who started asking us about sous vide,” she said. “There are people out there that are always looking to stay ahead of cooking trends.”
Jones worked with Frieling to offer in-store demonstrations that allowed shoppers to see first-hand how the unit works and some of the benefits of cooking a variety of food sous vide-style.