A retail veteran sees changes ahead

John Herbert

Cologne, Germany -- John Herbert has a front row seat on the global home-improvement retailing scene. The former president of EXPO Design Center West Coast (USA) and the current general secretary of the European DIY-Retail Association, Herbert identified six major changes facing retailers in 2014.

Speaking at the Presidents Council 2014 VIP Retail Trends event here at the International Hardware Fair, Herbert's six changes describe an industry where brands -- both private-label and national -- play an increasingly important role in a world of smaller stores with larger online presences. 

The list of six major changes to expect in his view, begins with the concept of click and collect. "Armchair shopping is exploding," he said. "This is really a major revolution."

That revolution is forcing the hand of brick-and-mortar stores to step up their game or face irrelevancy. Faced with the threat of losing customers to the Internet, "The stores of the future are going to be much, much more exciting," Herbert said. 

Brands will play an increased role in retail strategy, both the national brands and private labels. "In the future, there will be no alternatives -- store brands will become stronger, and own brands will become stronger."

Rounding out the list of major trends at retail are the movement to design smaller store footprints, and the movement to embrace mobile retailing. 

An outspoken admirer of the United States hardware retailing industry, Herbert pointed to stats showing the United States, with 9% of the world's population, has 60% of the DIY market. U.S. home improvement retailers are "miles ahead of the rest of the world," he said.

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