Hardware Retailing

JUL 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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Independent Thinking I once heard a speaker report that, as consumers, we make 95 percent of our decisions based upon intuition and emotion, and 5 percent on logic and reason. We can debate the actual percentages, but we probably all agree that these numbers are in the ballpark. So, put yourself in the shoes of a customer entering your store. What part of their decision-making personality are you speaking to—logic or emotion? In the hardware business, we believe that most of our customers buy rationally. Our customers come to us to help them solve a specific problem. Someone has a leaky toilet, and we have the solution. They have bugs in their garden, and we sell them the right insecticide. Our business is very neat and very rational, and our customers thank us for being great problem-solvers. If this is how you think about your business, congratulations: You just appealed to 5 percent of what motivates your customers. We tend to focus on product, functionality and operational performance. All basic and necessary things, but things big-box and online competitors can do as well or better. Identifying our strengths and being different is how we win the battle. In confronting our competitors, this "emotional" thing is one place where independents can win big. Today's consumers, and especially younger consumers, want things independents can deliver better than anyone. They want to shop at places that are locally relevant, that offer experiences and are authentic—all things that appeal to our emotional and intuitive sides. If you can connect emotionally with your customer who "just came in to buy insecticide," you're beginning to connect with the other 95 percent of what influences him or her as a consumer. So how do we become more locally relevant and authentic and offer more experiences? I'll offer a few suggestions, but this is really where your intuitive and emotional side goes to work. This is about finding imaginative ways to connect with the human side of our customers, by using all that we know about them and our community. There are so many ways for an independent retailer to become more relevant locally, and this should be an easy emotional win with your customers. Obviously, having a locally relevant mix of hardware products is a given, but why not support local producers, craftspeople, artists and growers by featuring their products in your store? Joining together with other local businesses in your community to support and promote each other is a powerful way to engage emotionally with your customers. And, of course, encouraging your staff to get involved with local charities, churches and schools can't be forgotten. Being authentic means being genuinely who you are. Today's consumers respond to this authenticity; it's why they are flocking to food trucks, microbreweries and local retailers. They want to connect with something real. You can be great at this; just be yourself and let your business reflect that. Today's consumers are also looking for experiences. This is an easy one for you; use your imagination and make it happen. Think about engaging with your customers around decorating, grilling, gardening, how-to demos, charity events, farmers markets and art fairs. The ideas are truly limitless. And, whatever you do, don't forget to make having fun a top priority! Appealing to your customers' emotional side creates deeper, longer-lasting relationships and taps into the 95 percent of what really motivates their purchasing decisions. Bill Lee, President and CEO blee@nrha.org " There are so many ways for an independent retailer to become more relevant locally, and this should be an easy emotional win with your customers. " Are You Emotional Enough? HARDWARE RETAILING | July 2017 8

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