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 74 Robisch predicted continued omnichannel growth for retail and an expanding need for independent retailers to improve the online experiences they offer to remain competitive. "The store remains a very important part of the shopping experience," he says. "However, you can't take online out of the equation because 50 percent of purchases start online." Big-box competitors, such as Home Depot and Menards, are gaining traction with customers by working to improve the product and project knowledge of their employees, Robisch says. As a result, independents cannot assume they're beating the big boxes in areas, such as customer service, where they have traditionally stood out, Robisch says. Use employee training, strategies for improving price image and relationships with existing customers to grow business, he advised conference attendees. "Be open to new ideas and change," he says. Expanding Categories The NRHA research also provided insight into the product categories retailers are growing and expecting more expansion from. New product lines, new products and niches are areas retailers list as the top three pathways to growth, Tratensek observed from the research. Independents have an advantage in that they are more easily adaptable than large corporations and can position themselves as innovators who can tailor their product mixes very specifically to their markets, Tratensek says. "Independent retailers are emerging as category curators," he says. "They have to know their markets better than anyone else." The top-performing categories in the past year for many independent home improvement retailers were lawn and garden, paint and paint sundries and plumbing, according to the data. Research participants think lawn and garden and paint and paint sundries have the most potential for growth. 74 HARDWARE RETAILING | February 2019 Source: NRHA 2018 State of Independents Conference Research Which niche categories are you currently offering? Retailers could select more than one answer. What niche categories do you feel offer the biggest potential for growth? Outdoor Power Equipment Gifts Plumbing Specialties Paint & Sundries Lawn & Garden Grilling Niche Categories Show Big Sales Potential Survey responses revealed the role niche categories are playing in retailers' growth plans. % of Survey Respondents 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Safety Pool Supplies Holiday/Seasonal Outdoor Power Equipment Automotive Food, Candy, Drinks Cleaning Supplies 77.5% 67.6% 59.5% 50.3% 48.0% 47.4% 42.2%

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