Hardware Retailing

MAR 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 | March 2018 50 Online Strategies Many retailers feel their best online weapons against encroaching e-commerce threats are advertising special events and reinforcing their brands to attract customers to their physical stores. The main focus for Bill Jablonowski, owner of Jabo's Ace Hardware in North Texas, and Andy Darnell with Howard Brothers in Georgia, is building their companies' online identities authentically, even without their own proprietary e-commerce offerings. Jabo's has three locations and Howard Brothers operates five stores, and both retailers offer a portal to their wholesalers' e-commerce platforms. Howard Brothers' website connects customers to what are essentially online catalogs of the company's main product offerings: equipment sales, parts and service and repairs. A news section includes sales flyers, blogs about store events and industry happenings. The Jabo's Ace Hardware site features large graphics advertising in-store events, an upcoming community fundraiser and current job openings alongside links to the company's social media accounts. Having a web presence is an opportunity to solidify the Jabo's Ace Hardware brand for customers, Jablonowski says. "Our website is a necessary vehicle to get our message out there—who we are, why we're different and what we're doing to create excitement within our store," he says. "At the end of the day, we're hardware store owners, not internet gurus. We're retail experts and we've focused our lives on how we can make retail work for us." Looking at Sales On average, retailers who participated in NRHA's research say digital sales account for 7 percent of their operations' overall sales. More than 80 percent of the retailers believe that Common Functions Retailers' Websites Perform Respondents could select more than one answer. 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% % of Respondents Communicate basic information (store hours, address, phone number) to customers 96.1% 89.2% 85.3% 70.7% 58.2% Source: North American Retail Hardware Association Communicate what products are offered in the store Communicate what services the store offers Give customers an avenue to contact the retailer Share interesting and personal information about the business, such as employee bios " Our website is a necessary vehicle to get our message out there—who we are, why we're different and what we're doing to create excitement within our store. " —Bill Jablonowski, Jabo's Ace Hardware

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