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Kitchen electrics can seem like a compulsory, unappetizing category for many gourmet kitchenware shops. Independent retailers often struggle to remain profitably relevant in basic kitchen electrics categories that are so widely distributed and price-promoted with limited real differentiation from mass to class. Yet, they also know a cook shop is not complete in the eyes of many customers without a fair representation of cooking, food prep and beverage electrics.

These retailers don’t just need help from small appliance vendors willing to staunchly restrict distribution — no easy task in today’s digitally-influenced marketplace — while providing a myriad of other promotional and financial incentives. They also need to help themselves by embracing the challenge to identify and manage laser-sharp electrics assortments that can avoid the competitive glare while generating sufficient turns to make the investment in precious inventory and shelf space worthwhile.

This edition of GOURMET INSIDER® explores the evolving role of in-store demonstration — an age-old merchandising hook powered by new-age potential — as a vital way to extract more sales and profit from kitchen electrics.

Today, the demonstration of kitchen electrics requires a multi-faceted approach that blends scheduled vendor demo events and cooking classes with the ability to unbox and plug in virtually any appliance on demand when you least expect it. And it requires intricate staff training for a more sophisticated approach in order to balance working the product and working the customer’s expectations.

Customers enter stores primed with more information, insights, opinions and questions than ever, courtesy of digital media. Many customers have already seen an online video demo of the appliance of their interest. Now they want to see it in action, and store demo programs have to clear a higher hurdle to complete the sale.

The key to escaping the appliance trap is to make sure you never fall into it. There is no reason a clearly defined electrics strategy committed to new items and resources, as well as some tried-and-true basics uniquely qualified for limited distribution, shouldn’t be productive.

Conceding that carrying kitchen electrics is simply a necessary cost-of-business when the real money is in cutlery, tools and cookware is not a sustainable approach when productivity is measured by the square inch, as it is in many of these shops.

A truly advanced, high-quality blender, countertop cooker or espresso machine has to work harder than most other products in a gourmet kitchenware shop to separate from the mass-market pack. So, therefore, does the shop owner.

It starts with a bigger appetite for success in kitchen electrics.

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