Gifts Today magazine

Online trading inspires debate at BHETA

The British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA)’s November housewares forum took online retailing as its theme

Online retailing took centrestage as a topic at BHETA’s November housewares forum, with perspectives contributed from online retail outlets, legal advisors and The Cookshop and Housewares Association.

Mark Lesniak of profiled the business to business opportunities of this global platform for British design, innovation and quality. Supported by UK Trade & Investment, is an easy, entry-level exporting solution for UK-registered businesses. It allows British businesses to reach new global markets and customers cost-effectively, and with the minimum of effort, on its unique eCommerce platform.

The keynote speaker was Joan Woulfe, the owner of Cooking Marvellous. Trading since 2005, firstly from a high street store in Shrewsbury, and now online with a warehouse just outside the town, Cooking Marvellous dispatches cookware orders to 135 countries; and groceries, health and beauty products from its Tastes Marvellous sister site. Joan gave an insight into the history of the company and also the business model it employs covering off margins, delivery speeds, postal charges and returns policy.

Mick Weedon of BIRA furnished delegates with an assessment of housewares retail both online and on the high street exploring the statistics and opportunities for each in a dynamic and shifting market. With the convenience of online an obvious consumer benefit of online, Mick stressed the 2 opportunities for service as distinct from sales for bricks and mortar retailers and the potential for instore theatre and destination creation.

The legal advice for online trading at whatever level was provided by Gerald Couldrake of Howes Percival who outlined the regulations that govern the channel – for retailers, suppliers and consumers. The key learning was the need for T&Cs that are not only robust but clearly communicated, transparent and understandable to all parties.

Commenting on the event, homewares sector director, Will Jones said, “Housewares retailing now needs to cover off a great many different consumer experiences and consumer needs from the delight, expertise and personality of destination cookshops to the convenience, range and service of online retail. This forum explored all these opportunities.”

BHETA President, Roger Morgan Grenville added, “The forum was enlightening as ever and contained some very shrewd advice as to the opportunities and pitfalls the market now provides.”

Companies interested in participating in future BHETA events can contact member services on 0121 237 1130, email Will Jones on or visit the BHETA website at and follow the links.

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