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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HARDWARE RETAILING | February 2017 54 Strano is always compiling a mental list of all the products he's discovered and would like to test. However, the next phase in the life cycle of a new product requires action. "Once we've discovered and decided to add a new product to our shelves, we make sure to stick to the 'one to go, one to show,' idea," Strano says. "For every new item that comes in, we have to eliminate another slow-moving item. We try to be conservative with our inventory orders, but since we have a truck that comes once a week, if something does extremely well, we can increase our order moving forward." In order to make sure new products don't hit the salesfloor and start collecting dust, Strano is proactive in communicating these new products to employees and customers. After new products arrive and find their place in the store, Strano has images of these products and some information about them displayed on a new product corkboard in the employee break room. "I have over 50 employees working here, so I always make sure to spread awareness for the new products we introduce on our salesfloor," Strano says. "We have 53,000 SKUs, so I don't expect them to know everything we have. However, by displaying the newer products in the break room, employees might get an idea for something a customer may need or want the next time they're answering questions." To keep new products at the top of customers' minds, Strano also is sure that whether an employee recommends something or not, they know if something is newer to their shelves. "In each of our departments, I have a bulletin board that clearly displays 10 new items to hit that department," he says. Signage helps spread awareness for new products, and Strano says that if an item is new within a few months of being introduced, they include tags that say "New Item" along the shelves to attract attention. Outside of signage, Strano says if a new niche is being tested in a retailer's store, creating an inviting display in a high-traffic area is a great way to draw attention to the new items. For example, he has a well-developed Pittsburgh sports team department devoted to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Penguins. To keep the niche relevant, he is constantly sourcing new items and displaying them creatively. "We got a light-up Pittsburgh Steelers hat a while back, and rather than just add it to a shelf and leave it alone, I decided to find a creative way to grab customers' attention with it," he says. Strano got his employees in on the fun and had a few cashiers wear the light-up hat, as well as put one on a mannequin and make sure it was lit up from open to close, even if that meant going through a few batteries to keep it on. "I ordered 24 of these hats to start and with an effort to attract people's attention to them, they sold out almost immediately because I was proactive," Strano says. "If you are excited and passionate about a product, share that with your customers, and you can't go wrong." Ambridge Do it Best employees can get a quick rundown of all the latest new products available on the salesfloor on a bulletin board in the break room. Stock and Showcase

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