Hardware Retailing

JAN 2018

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 | January 2018 16 NRHA News R etailers, manufacturers, distributors and other industry professionals now have new ideas on how to improve their businesses to strengthen the independent home improvement channel after two NRHA events that took place on Dec. 6 and 7 in Chicago: the Women's Leadership Roundtable and the State of Independents Conference. State of Independents Conference In its third year, NRHA's State of Independents Conference once again presented research on important industry topics like growth challenges and opportunities, online behavior and the state of the industry in an effort to help channel partners better understand what business owners need to succeed. In addition to research presentations, the conference delivered four retailer-led panels during the one-day event. A primary takeaway from the conference is that independent retailers need to differentiate their businesses in order to compete in the new, ever-changing retail landscape. "Retail isn't what it was just five years ago," Megan Menzer, owner of two Newton's True Value stores in southeast Kansas, says. "What a consumer buys today has nothing to do with what they buy next week or next month. The consumer is stimulated constantly, so if they walk in your store and you're not entertaining them or the packaging isn't just right, they're not going to go with your product." In order to effectively compete for customers in their local markets, some retailers have enhanced their online presences and utilized technology in their stores. Dan Tratensek, NRHA executive vice president and publisher, echoed the value of an online presence. He feels strongly that independents have experience navigating challenging retail environments and will come out on top. Women's Leadership Roundtable On the day before the State of Independents Conference, NRHA hosted its second annual Women's Leadership Roundtable, during which attendees discussed the value that trades bring to the industry and the importance of training employees along with a variety of other conversations relating to women in leadership positions throughout the independent home improvement channel. The group included retailers, wholesaler representatives, manufacturers and other members of the industry who gathered for a full day of conversation. The group agreed that support in the industry for developing the next generation of tradespeople is vital because trades represent a large customer base for many independent home improvement businesses. Additionally, the roundtable attendees discussed the challenges of training and retaining their own employees in a job market with rising minimum wages and low unemployment. The group shared strategies for finding qualified, engaged employees who understand the demands of working in retail, including using a recruiting company; offering bonuses for employee referrals; and posting jobs online and in community areas. Participants also talked about how to encourage other women to see home improvement retail as a viable career option, and the group agreed the tide is changing for women in the industry. " The consumer is stimulated constantly, so if they walk in your store and you're not entertaining them or the packaging isn't just right, they're not going to go with your product. " —Megan Menzer, Newton's True Value Retailers, manufacturers and distributors gathered to hear research and retailer-led panels at the 2017 State of Independents Conference. Training, Online Competition Among Topics at Recent NRHA Events

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