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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February 2018 | HARDWARE RETAILING 69 What would you identify as your biggest opportunities to grow your business in the short term? Respondents could select more than one answer. What would you say are your biggest challenges to growth? Respondents could select more than one answer. Adding New Niches/Products Operational Efficiencies Improved Marketing Developing a Stronger Team Adding New Categories At his brick-and-mortar location, Fusek is experimenting with geolocation, through which he is targeting ads and specials to customers when they are within a certain radius of his store. He also uses the technology to offer a pickup service so customers don't need to get out of their cars to collect online orders. When their phone approaches the business, employees inside get an alert and are able to meet the customer with their purchases. "Technology is the future. There's not enough urgency in our industry," Fusek told attendees. At Buchheit, which has eight locations in Missouri, the solutions to addressing customer and employee needs required them to build their own platform, including training tools. "We identified painful processes in our stores and weeded them out using technology," panelist Jared Hotop, vice president of IT at Buchheit, says. "We changed a 55-step special-order process into a three- or four-step module." Jake Wilson at Wilco, which has 18 locations in Washington state and Oregon, says e-commerce companies are equally as capable of forming relationships with consumers as are brick-and-mortar retailers, so it's not as easy for independents to assume they have the edge in that area. "We're trying to focus on solving customer problems with buy online, pickup in store services," he told the audience. "E-commerce is so technically challenging that it's easy to lose sight of the customer. We have that focus in our stores, so we need to figure out how to do it online, because others are." Although building an online presence and using technology to better understand consumers is challenging and expensive, Robisch says there aren't any alternatives for retailers who want to compete. "Find the time, find the talent and find the money. Figure it out. Are you going to be left out?" he told attendees. 13% 14% 14% 16% Online Retail Competition Finding the Right Employees Big-Box Competition Regulations and Taxes Finding Additional Space Having a Succession Plan 26% 26% 24% 23% 17% 14% 13% 13% 7% 9% 10% Short Term (1-3 years) Long Term (5-7 years) Source: NRHA/Hardware Retailing " E-commerce is so technically challenging that it's easy to lose sight of the customer. We have that focus in our stores, so we need to figure out how to do it online, because others are. " —Jake Wilson, Wilco

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