Hardware Retailing

NOV 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 | November 2018 58 Supporting Brand Loyalty A common theme among these three retailers is the level of brand loyalty their professional tradespeople have shown and the need for those brands to be well-represented across the full line of products available. Gemmen's Home & Hardware as well as PaulB Hardware both recently remodeled their salesfloors and took advantage of that time to remerchandise their power tools by brand, rather than by tool type. Merchandising high-quality brands together allows a retailer to make use of the manufacturer's signage, which helps show off a well-stocked department. "When a professional buys into a brand, they're going the whole way. They're not coming into the store for just a reciprocating saw; they want a specific brand's saw," Groff says. "It makes sense to have all of that brand's accessories, battery packs and other tools in the same area, because once they've purchased into a brand, they're no longer looking over the selection to see which saw they like best." Brand loyalty also speaks to which brands retailers are bringing into their stores. While power tools at lower price points can appeal to homeowners and DIYers for projects in a home setting, professionals look for the tools that are more durable and more powerful. Most are willing to bring their price expectations in line with these top brands. Reaching out beyond the brands offered through a certain distributor and working directly with power tool vendors can help expand the selection. Other required power tools products for contractors and professionals include the latest in battery-powered options. Portable tools are quickly overtaking corded options for even those intense jobs accomplished by framing saws, impact drivers and chainsaws, Branneky says. Drills with brushless motors are more popular than traditional brushed motors. No matter what brands a retailer chooses to bring into their store, having the latest item on the minds of tool-obsessed professionals is key. Staying in touch with brand vendors and knowing about new products rolling out are ways to stay ahead of demand, Gemmen says. With the level of customer loyalty present in power tools, the consumer will often know more about what tools are hitting the market than retailers because manufacturers often mail flyers directly to consumers. In addition, brand loyalty programs and trade publications keep customers informed about new products in their favorite tool lines. "Bringing in the latest new product can be scary sometimes, because you don't know what will sell or if this brand new product will just languish on the shelf. But we need to take that chance for us to be known as a tool source," Gemmen says. "Sometimes it's just about having the coolest new tool on the job site. But if a customer walks in and you don't have it, they're going somewhere else that does, and now you're not reliable." Different tradespeople will often be loyal to particular brands when selecting their power tools. PaulB Hardware in Pennsylvania has developed a strong following with area contractors due to its diverse selection and services like an in-store repair facility.

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