Hardware Retailing

SEP 2016

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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September 2016 | HARDWARE RETAILING 89 But many products offer significant energy savings by monitoring energy usage and controlling systems in the home, such as the heating and cooling system or the watering system. While there are currently no federal rebates for smart home devices, you should search for any rebates state or local governments or energy companies may offer for energy- efficient purchases. Communicate these to customers as you help overcome any price objections they may have to the purchase. Experiment With Your Product Mix A doorbell with a built-in security camera is one of the best-selling smart home devices at Fresno Ag, says Williams. In the three years he's been selling smart home products, the selection has grown to include a keyless entry system, a thermostat, a CO and smoke detector, a security camera and some light bulbs. Not every product he tries is a hit—there's a bit of trial and error as it is with any category. He sources from his co-op's market, the National Hardware Show ® and customer requests. "Our product mix is a 50/50 split between items we thought we'd like to sell and products our customers asked for directly," he says. He's learned to try a product even if he's not convinced it will sell. "We brought in a Roomba (robot vacuum cleaner) and I was skeptical at first, but then I bought one for my home and I love it. Most importantly, don't be afraid to take a chance on a product to see if it will sell." Compete on Knowledge, Not Price A big-box electronics' store is Williams' closest competitor in the smart home category, and competition isn't on price. "Most of these products are not price sensitive because they use MAP (minimum advertised price) pricing set by the manufacturer. Everyone is selling the product for the same price," he says. "We have to promote our customer service and the fact that we are a local business putting money back into the community." Rather than scattering smart home products throughout the store, it's best to group them together in a single display and offer them as a single category.

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