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Communication today: Not so easy

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Las Vegas — Jim Crawford led the attendees of the Presidents Council Advisory Board Meeting in a demonstration of the type of whiz-bang communications technology that could — conceivably — help retailers engage with customers.

There is no doubt, however, that the issue of managing customer communication is more difficult than ever for retailers. 

Crawford, executive director of the Global Retail Executive Council as well as the principal of consulting firm Taberna Retail, spelled out the challenge. "The shopper today is more demanding and has higher expectations than any other point in history," he said.

Taberna’s research spelled out what consumers want in terms of shopping environment. Sixty-six percent of shoppers say they want improved customer service, and 61% say they want "accessible information before making a purchase." Those numbers, he said, clearly show where retailers should focus their energies, as opposed to "tailored experience" — sought by 23% of shoppers.

Managing modern communication — including all social media — includes creating a link between physical stores and online stores; and creating a link between product and more. 

Success in this field is a struggle, he said. He offered this caution: "If what you’re doing is easy, you’re doing it wrong." 

The goal for navigating new media and new technology include capturing lost demand inside the store and creating demand for your products outside the store, he said. It’s also important to leverage new sources of information about the shopper by engaging them in places such as Twitter and Facebook. “And don’t be afraid of negative feedback by online reviewers,” he said.

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IKEA completes 38th U.S. solar project

BY HBSDEALER Staff

IKEA has officially plugged-in the solar energy system installed at its store in Stoughton, Mass. The 118,000-sq.-ft. array consists of a 590.8-kW (DC) system, built with 4,220 laminated panels. It will produce approximately 695,000 kWh of clean electricity annually, the equivalent of reducing 479 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), eliminating the emissions of 94 cars or powering 60 homes yearly (calculating clean energy equivalents). 

The installation represents the 38th completed solar project for IKEA in the United States, with one more location under way, giving the chain an eventual solar presence in nearly 90% of its U.S. locations, with a total generation of 38 MW. Ikea contracted REC Solar for the development, design and installation of the Stoughton store’s customized solar power system. 

The retailer owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings — as opposed to a solar lease or PPA (power purchase agreement) — and globally has allocated $1.8 billion to invest in renewable energy through 2015. 

IKEA’s solar project reinforces its long-term commitment to sustainability and confidence in photovoltaic (PV) technology. Consistent with the company’s goal of being energy independent by 2020, the company has installed more than 250,000 solar panels on buildings across the world and owns/operates approximately 110 wind turbines in Europe.

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Vendors honored with Golden Hammers

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Las Vegas — The 2013 Golden Hammer Awards ceremony recognized home improvement suppliers in 31 categories during a Wednesday morning ceremony at the National Hardware Show here. 

The awards were based on an electronic survey of retailers and distributors conducted earlier this year. Retailers and distributors were asked to select one vendor per category that exemplifies excellence through their commitment to category management, inventory management, new product innovation and quality control.

The following companies won Golden Hammers in the Hardware Tools & Supplies categories:

  • Cleaning Supplies – 3M
  • Electrical Supplies – Leviton
  • Fasteners – The Hillman Group
  • Floor Care – Shop Vac
  • Hand Tools – Irwin
  • Gloves & Apparel – Carhartt
  • Home Security and Safety – First Alert
  • Paint Supplies and Tools – Wooster
  • Plumbing Supplies and Equipment – Fluidmaster
  • Power Tools – DeWalt

The following vendors received Golden Hammer awards in the home decor categories:

  • Decorative Hardware & Locksets – Kwikset
  • Decorative Lighting & Fixtures – Hunter Fan
  • Plumbing Fashion and Fixtures – Moen
  • Home Organization – Closetmaid
  • Major Appliances – Whirlpool
  • Paint: Wall Treatments and Stains – Valspar
  • Small Appliances – KitchenAid

The following companies received awards in the LBM categories:

  • Bathroom Vanities – Kohler
  • Building Materials – Boise Cascade
  • Insulation & Housewrap – Owens Corning
  • Caulking & Sealants – Dap
  • Doors – ThermaTru
  • Lumber & Plywood – Georgia Pacific
  • Windows – Anderson 

The following companies earned Golden Hammers in the outdoor living categories:

  • Barbecue – Weber Stephens
  • Decorative Landscaping – Oldcastle
  • Garden Accessories – Design House
  • Lawn & Garden Organics/Chemicals – Scotts
  • Lawn & Garden Tools & Irrigation – Ames True Temper
  • Outdoor Power Equipment – Husqvarna
  • Pools Supplies – ARCH (HTH)

Its important to stress that these winners are selected by their retail customers the toughest judges available, said Nigel Maynard, editor in chief of Residential Building Products & Technology a sister publication of HCN — who unveiled the Golden Hammer winners during the ceremony. And thats why we can safely call our Golden Hammer winners the best of the best for 2013.

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