The name Weber today may be synonymous with barbequing, but that wasn’t always the case. When the brand first launched in Australia in 1978, it took a lot of work to convince people that the kettle-style barbeque produced great results, according to Weber Store Development Manager Luke Staunton.
“Weber Australia founder Ross McDonald brought the first Weber kettle to Australia. He won people over by cooking in front of his friend’s jewellery store in Rundle Mall Adelaide, giving out tastings,” says Staunton.
McDonald would also help customers get the product set up in their own home and help them put on their first meal. It was customers who spread the word about Weber’s value.
“Ross would always talk about building on Weber’s brand equity and ensuring someone had a positive result the very first time they cooked on a Weber barbecue. That was and is still the mantra we and our retailers subscribe to.”
That entrepreneurial spirit continues as the company moves into a new space – Weber Outdoor Kitchens. “We started with ways to install Weber barbecues into third party outdoor cabinetry and saw an opportunity to expand the scope into a holistic Weber outdoor kitchen experience,” says Staunton.
“Generally, designing an outdoor kitchen can be a convoluted process. Providing a solution for a customer’s individual needs – with a lot of customisability – took a lot of time. It put limitations on the kind of experience we could provide to customers coming into our retail stores.”
It was Weber’s dedication to providing a brilliant customer experience combined with in-store sales team efficiency that won Weber Store Australia the 2022 Retailer Award for In-Store Customer Service Initiative of the Year.
Overcoming challenges to provide a great experience
Weber turned to technology to help solve the challenges of rolling out their new product. “We needed an efficient solution where we could show customers how it would look in their space, the area it would take up along with the total cost.”
Weber spent close to 12 months developing an app that could help customers choose the size and model of their barbecue, the colour of cabinetry and granite – along with different appliances.
The Weber Outdoor Kitchens Designer App streamlined the entire process. It allowed a customer to build their own design in less than five minutes, then receive an emailed quote that included the render of their kitchen dimensions. Also included was the total price of delivery and installation as well as drawings for the installation gas lines and power points.
“We trialled the Outdoor Kitchens and in-store app for 7 months before launching it and the positive feedback from both customers and our teams has been very strong,” says Staunton.
Providing a path for the future
The app has had a significant impact on several areas of Weber’s business. “The future of the company will be driven by technologies like this that make our lives easier,” says Staunton. “We are seeing ‘connected tech’ integrated into our barbecues with each new iteration and sales in the outdoor kitchen category have increased significantly for Weber Stores since the launch of their app while Net Promoter Scores (NPS) remain high.
“It’s improved our customer service experience by using our in-store team more efficiently. We’re freeing staff up to help other customers as those interested in outdoor kitchens explore their options using the tablet.”
The biggest challenge of the entire process came from the app’s popularity, says Staunton. “When we launched it, we would get in touch with people who had used the app to design an outdoor kitchen to arrange a free site measure and they would say, ‘oh, we were just having a play.’ But that’s a testament to how easy it is to use and design your own, unique outdoor kitchen.
“We set out to create something that was useful for our in-store team and would be great for customers. It’s wonderful to also be recognised by the Retailer Awards for the work we’ve been doing to support customers and retail operators.”
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