Hardware Retailing

FEB 2019

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 2019 60 Across the generations, all participants indicated their time was a motivating factor in choosing whether to shop at independents or big boxes. Retailers who can provide speedy delivery options or streamline the checkout process for customers could win new sales. Participants across generations saw value in independent operations establishing rapid delivery programs that could enable professionals to stay at job sites even when key pieces of equipment needed to be replaced. Vernon reiterated the importance of maximizing time he can devote to his tree care customers. "Every minute I'm spending going back and forth from a store is time when I'm not actually working on a job," he says. "Getting deliveries sent directly to a job site would be a huge benefit for me." Even participants who don't work in the trades saw great value in improved delivery options. Several millennials described undertaking home improvement projects and learning the hard way that the tools or equipment they had weren't right for the task at hand. Many millennials in the focus group said having the ability to get in touch with a store's staff and initiate a delivery to their homes instead of making two or three trips to a store would be a game-changer. Even if retailers can't establish a delivery program for pros and DIYers, exploring technology that can greatly reduce customer wait times is important, participants agreed. Many focus group participants supported mobile checkout programs enthusiastically. Vernon called mobile checkout "masterful," a clear sign retailers should research what it takes to bring that technology to their business. Burns says mobile checkout would be especially useful when customers were purchasing larger items. "I think it would be beneficial to have floating salespeople who were ready to help customers check out as soon as possible," he says. "Especially for items like mulch and lumber, no one wants to haul that all over a store." Credit card swipers can be attached to tablet devices and enable associates to bust long lines by helping customers quickly pay for their purchases. In other scenarios, associates could leave the store to bring products to customers curbside and quickly process their payments, enabling pros to return to a job quickly. Speedy Checkout, Dashing Delivery • Even if you only offer it to professionals, ensure your business has the resources necessary to make quick deliveries within a reasonable radius. • Advertise the service to professionals who frequent your store to make your business top of mind when they're at a job site and need a piece of equipment as soon as possible to keep their project on track. • Establishing a service area in which your company can make deliveries is critical. Ensure that service area encompasses areas of construction activity to net as many sales from pros as possible. • Consider delivering products outside your service area for an additional delivery fee. This policy enables professionals to stay working at a job site with the tools they need while your business enjoys a higher transaction size. Put It to Use Nels Olson (left) and Eric Burns say mobile checkout options would encourage them to shop independents.

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