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 52 the word about upcoming events are the most common ways they use social media. About 65 percent of retailers use social media to draw traffic to their websites, while also promoting their brick-and-mortar operations. Klem's has more than 15,000 Facebook followers who engage with the business by participating in online contests, viewing photos and asking questions. Howard Brothers regularly posts videos to its social media accounts, often of employees demonstrating new products or promoting in-store events. Videos build the company's brand and help customers connect with Howard Brothers in a meaningful way, Darnell says. "Our videos do really well," he says. "If somebody finds a product video and they see one of our salespeople online, they know they can come in and talk to that person directly." The Nuts and Bolts of Order Fulfillment For the NRHA survey respondents who offer some level of e-commerce, customers buying online and having their orders shipped to stores is the most common method of order fulfillment. Of the retailers who offer e-commerce, nearly 80 percent say they use this fulfillment option. For Howard Brothers, competing against Amazon and other online retailers sometimes means using the competitors to their own advantage. Howard Brothers sells new products on Amazon using a seller's profile the business created roughly a decade ago. The company also sells used equipment parts on eBay. Howard Brothers then ships products directly to customers who order on Amazon or eBay. Even without direct e-commerce capability on its website, Jabo's Ace Hardware is still incorporating technology into its operations. Jablonowski says that soon, his website will include a feature that allows customers to send questions directly to staff members via text message, initiating a one-to-one dialogue instantly with prospective customers. In the Trenches When asked how happy they are with the current e-commerce experiences they offer on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most satisfied, the average response to NRHA's survey was 5.4, suggesting that many retailers are still trying to determine the best strategy for how their businesses can compete online. Can online-only businesses meet all of the needs of today's hardware or home improvement shoppers? *Survey respondents who answered "Other" who did not say "I don't know" or "I hope not" believe e-commerce fulfills the needs of younger generations and customers who know what they're doing. Source: North American Retail Hardware Association Source: The Farnsworth Group No . . . 85.8% Other* . . . 10.4% Yes . . . 3.8% From the Retailers' Perspective From the Consumers' Perspective No . . . 71.0% Yes . . . 29.0%

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