Hardware Retailing

FEB 2018

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 | February 2018 68 Jim Robisch, senior partner at Indianapolis-based research firm The Farnsworth Group, which conducted consumer research as part of a joint project with NRHA that was presented at the conference, agrees. He says when a retailer doesn't have a product available in store, customers are rarely going to wait for the next shipment. "When you miss out on a sale opportunity in your stores, customers don't often say, 'Oh, I'll come back for it later,'" he told attendees. The retailers who participated in the panels all shared ways that they differentiate their businesses and are rethinking what service means to consumers who are now conditioned to receiving online orders quickly. In his panel, David Dishke, owner of Grand River Home Hardware and Grimsby Home Hardware in Ontario, said the policy at his business is to address out-of-stock merchandise in the moment and to discount it so customers are less inclined to go online. "If we don't have something in the store, we offer 10 percent off because it's not in stock, and we'll order it to arrive in the next shipment," he says. Melnick says his operation has focused on fast delivery, which is competitive in Chicago. "We can get product in our stores and delivered within 24 hours," he says. "We promote the fact that if we don't have it, we can get it for you." Meeting Customer Expectations Online According to research conducted by NRHA and The Farnsworth Group, 95 percent of independent retailers have a website, and retailers are fairly tuned in to what their customers ask of their online presence. Consumers surveyed say they are most often researching prices, looking for product reviews and seeking out promotional offers when they visit a home improvement retailer's website. Retailer survey respondents recognized the value of this information, but they rated "the ability to get basic information about my business" as the most important feature of their website, which wasn't something consumers rated as a high priority. This disconnect is likely because consumers expect basic information—store location, hours and contact information—to be readily available, and it's not the primary reason they are visiting home improvement retailers' websites. A panel of retailers who are developing their businesses' online strategies talked about how vital it is for independents to figure out a way to develop an online presence. "Amazon is changing the experience for the customer, and if we don't change how we interact with our people, we will lose," Steve Fusek, owner of Fusek's True Value Hardware in downtown Indianapolis, said during his panel. "We need to figure out how to compete against Amazon and the expectations they're creating." The State of Independents Conference allows retailers, vendors and manufacturers to reflect on their relationships.

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