Hardware Retailing

APR 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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T hroughout my 20-plus years within the home improvement retailing industry, I've seen more than my share of innovation, originality and highly creative retail practices. There is no "demographic" for where this type of high-performance retailing takes place, either. It's not just the larger independent chains that drive innovation. In fact, I can cite numerous examples of smaller, single-store operators engaging in leading-edge retailing. But if I may speak bluntly, there is still a relatively large contingent of retailers within this industry who might run good operations, but aren't quite keeping up with the evolving retail landscape. In this month's issue, we dedicate quite a bit of the conversation to merchandising best practices. We chose to do this because merchandising and overall store presentation both play critical roles in how customers perceive your operation. You don't have to be involved in retailing for long to know that a junky-looking, ill-arranged and poorly merchandised salesfloor has the potential to repel customers in droves. The challenge with this however, is that there is no real overall consensus as to what a "well-merchandised" home improvement store looks like. As evidence, I will point to the fact that I have often spoken with retailers about their store presentation and one of the first things they mention is, "We really focus on merchandising; we keep the store really clean." While keeping a store clean is incredibly important, cleanliness is just kind of the cost of admission if you want to be a successful retailer today. Think of it this way—the first time a customer walks into your store is kind of like a first date. You want to make a good impression and show your date how easy you are to get along with. Then, throughout the course of your relationship, you want to reinforce these first impressions and show your new partner (customer) all the reasons they should choose you before any other options. Now, I don't think too many of us, when asked about dating, say, "I make a great first impression whenever I go on a date. I'm always clean." It's kind of a given, right? I know hardware stores in general can have the reputation in consumers' eyes as being those dusty old buildings with the thick patina on the floors and creaky old fixtures. So, keeping a store clean and well-lit is a great first step. But it's also important to note that today's consumer isn't just comparing your operation to other old, dusty hardware stores. They are comparing your store to Nordstrom, Target, Bass Pro, Home Depot and just about every other retailer they visit. This is especially true of today's younger shoppers, who are rapidly becoming the next generation of homeowners you will NEED to cater to if you want your business to survive in the decades to come. As you read through this issue and hopefully take inspiration from some of the merchandising tips we provide, I encourage you to take a look at your own operation and try to find ways to make the best possible impression on your customers. And for cripe's sake, if you're going to go on any dates… spruce yourself up a bit. Dan M. Tratensek, Publisher dant@nrha.org Don't Underestimate First Impressions Taking Care of Business " While keeping a store clean is incredibly important, cleanliness is just kind of the cost of admission if you want to be a successful retailer today. " HARDWARE RETAILING | April 2017 10

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