Indianapolis -- Do it Best VP merchandising Steve Markley pointed to opportunities in farm-and-ranch products as well as home-automation technology during the co-op's May market merchandising preview.
For the first time, the show floor here featured a Farm and Ranch Product Exhibit, displaying merchandising ideas and new products for what Markley called "one of the fastest growing categories at retail today." Markley said the exhibit includes products that would expand the offering of any farm-and-ranch focused retailer. It also features several products that allow for easy entry into the category, he said.
The show floor also has a dedicated area called "Home Automation Headquarters." According to Markley, all retailers should consider home automation as a growth opportunity. He pointed to statistics showing that the category is expected to grow by 50% in each of the next three years.
In many cases, the category offers products that work with a smart phone. For instance, he described a temperature probe for grilling that can be managed from a smart phone. The Kevo, smart-phone operated dead bolt is also an example of the kinds of technology in existence and in the pipeline.
"It's important that we keep abreast of what is happening in this area for the future," Markley said. "Even if it's not for you, it will be for your kids or your grandkids."
Markley also plugged the co-op's exclusive licensing deal with Channellock. Sales of these Channellock-licensed products at Do it Best increased 26% year-to-date, he said.
During the co-op's Merchandising Market Preview, fifteen category managers rapidly presented highlights to the assembled co-op members. Among the products:
• Delta Toilets, which were introduced at the October show and sold better than expected;
• A new product for the bathroom called Poo-Pourri comes with the slogan: "spray before you go and no one will know;"
• The Snow Wolf snow shovel from NooTools uses the power of a large wheel to clear snow three times faster than a regular shovel while reducing stress on the back;
• JT Eaton rolled out a Bigfoot brand mouse trap;
• Lucky Line Key Shapes brings creativity to household keys. (The top-selling key shape: a mug of beer.); and
• In the lawn and garden area, category manager Gary Loosle gave an update on ice melt -- a super hot product during the extended winter in much of the country. "We sold a lot, a lot, a lot of ice melt, and the May market is the best time to buy." He added: "Calcium chloride is going to possibly continue to have shortages next year."