Hardware Retailing

MAY 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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HARDWARE RETAILING | May 2017 182 T echnology is an ever-changing, ever-advancing piece of your business, your life and the lives of your customers. Think about how quickly our reaction to new technology goes from "wow" to "duh." "Wow! You mean I can put this piece of paper into this facsimile machine and it will print out somewhere across the country?" (Fax machines were becoming a standard part of business by the 1970s.) "Wow! I can type this email address and send a note to someone across the ocean through this computer?" (Email was becoming common practice in the mid-1990s.) "Wow! I can call someone on the other side of the globe and see them on my cell phone while I talk to them, like on 'Star Trek'?" (Apple introduced FaceTime in 2010.) Do you remember the first time you had a video chat with someone? I sat on my couch and could see my neighbor across the street on a screen. It was amazing. Now, my five-year-old wants to walk off with my phone so he can casually "FaceTime Grandpa." If he had my password or thumbprint, he could complete the process without my help. What was "wow" just a few short years ago is now "duh" to the generation behind me and my fellow Gen Xers and even Millennials. Think about how these advances in technology are now another customer expectation in retail. There's free in-store Wi-Fi, mobile payments, emailing monthly statements and buy online, pick up in store. Don't forget about regular interactions on social media. It's 2017, so you cannot be promoting and bragging about how you take credit cards and offer gift cards. Brag about accepting Apple Pay and the ability to send gift cards via text. Remember, you become "behind the times" the minute you do not meet your customers' expectations. You do not necessarily need to be a technology trendsetter, but you do need to be in line with what your customers experience in other retail environments. The minimum expectations customers have every time they step in your store are ever-escalating, and being a local retailer as opposed to a big box doesn't give you a pass. For example: It is a major pet peeve of mine when retailers do not have Wi-Fi in their stores, especially if cell reception is poor in their big, metal building. How else am I supposed to call my wife and make sure I'm buying the right product, or look at a YouTube video to make sure I'm purchasing what I need? Technology Expert Perspective: Retail is... By Dustin Kaehr, dk@dustinkaehr.com

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