Hardware Retailing

FEB 2017

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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Page 58 of 118

HARDWARE RETAILING | February 2017 52 Before a new product makes its way onto the shelves of Ambridge Do it Best, Strano has either heard of it from a customer or discovered it at a competitor's business. For example, about five years ago, consumers' enthusiasm for single-serve coffee was heating up. Keurig coffee makers and K-Cup pods were the hottest new items on people's wish lists, but not all retailers were eager to jump on the trend. Whether he visited other stores, talked to his customers, attended trade shows or simply searched online, Strano had sufficiently researched the product line and decided the interest and intrigue were worth the risk. Instead of simply sticking to traditional coffee makers, Strano listened to his intuition and gave Keurig coffee makers, coffee pods and accessories a place in his store. "I knew that Keurig products were something we should get into," Strano says. "We went to our co-op's market and started with one machine and four K-Cup flavors. Since then, it has grown astronomically." Today, that risk has paid off, and Ambridge Do it Best is home to one of the largest selections of K-Cup coffee flavor pods in the area, even compared to big-box retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, Strano says. "We have over 40 feet of K-Cups, with about 100 flavors or more; we carry all of the machines and the accessories," Strano says. "Our display area for Keurig is in the front of the store, and we take pride in its presentation. If you put your heart into something and believe in it, it'll pay off." So how can a retailer discover the next Keurig? Product discovery takes place in a variety of ways. "Researching and discovering new products is something I feel I have a strong passion for," Strano says. "I like to see what's trending at other stores, at hardware shows and by simply listening to what our customers are looking for." While the product discovery phase is the first step in the life cycle of new products, Strano says it is something he is always thinking about. This means keeping products at the forefront at all times. Whether he's out visiting other stores and finds something he believes his customers would like, watching a commercial on television or walking a market floor, Strano says product discovery is something retailers should always be thinking about. Another way Strano has discovered new products to introduce to his customers is by shopping locally as often as he can and supporting those businesses if it would be a fit. "There is a candy store about three or four miles from my business," Strano says. "It's a local favorite, but I figured many people probably wouldn't make a trip all the way out there to buy a small box of candy. That's when I thought it might be cool to sell some of their candy in our store." Strano called the candy shop to request to sell a small amount of its candy in his store. As customers realized it was available, he increased his volume and selection, and now Ambridge Do it Best sells several thousand dollars worth of candy each month, and even more during holidays. If a retailer wants to expand upon their product selection, finding a local non-competitive business in the area to stock inventory from may be a great option. If the business agrees, it can be a win-win partnership. Not only will stocking local businesses' products add to your sales, but also it can help create a stronger relationship with local businesses. Research and Discover Since Kuerig Coffee Machines, K-Cup pods and accessories first hit the floor at Ambridge Do it Best, the volume and options have grown extensively.

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