Do it Best’s Lynch meets the media
Indianapolis — Rich Lynch, who was named VP of marketing for Fort Wayne, Ind.-based Do it Best Corp. back in March, said he learned some valuable lessons about retail from his teenage years as a hardware store employee — and also from his years as a marketing executive for Jim Beam.
Lynch met with the media here during the co-op’s May Market. And with the words "helping members grow" stitched into his shirt sleeve, he talked about the importance of staying ahead of society’s online movement and balancing all the "ingredients" of a successful hardware store.
"At Jim Beam, my experience helped me understand that brand matters," he said — not just for product, but for local retail brand names in the communities they serve.
From his youth as a hardware store worker, Lynch said his old store manager’s emphasis on the initials "HI SAM" continue to loom large in his understanding of retail. They stand for "have I sold additional merchandise."
Lynch has more than 25 years of experience in the retail, home-improvement and co-op industries, and he has held the position of Do it Best retail marketing director since 2011. His resume also includes management positions at Oak Brook, Ill.-based Ace Hardware.
He said one challenge for the co-op and its retailers is to adapt faster to the increasingly important online world.
The web is one of six keys to marketing a store in today’s world, he said. The others: loyalty, advertising, store design, social media and in-store environments. "These are not six stand alone ingredients," he said "They all work together."
While Amazon and other online retailers represent another serious challenge to traditional retail, there is an opportunity to join them in the online game, he said, by using the power of the co-op’s distribution centers. Now, if a store doesn’t have an item a customer asked for, the store can get it.
"Amazon has conditioned consumers to wait, unless something is leaking," he said. "The message should be: ‘If we don’t have an item it in the store, then we’ll get it for you.’"
Also from the press conference, Lynch said there were 200 Signature Store Design projects underway throughout the co-op’s membership.
Do it Best embraces farm, ranch and automation
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."
Big weekend for paint at Ace
A buy-one-get-one deal described as the co-op’s most aggressive promotion ever is bolstering the Oak Brook, Illinois-based co-op’s grand opening of The Paint Studio in some 3,200 stores.
On Saturday and Sunday (May 17 and 18), consumers can get a second gallon for free of either Clark+Kensington or Valspar Optimus.
“This weekend Ace Hardware is inviting millions of homeowners across America to visit their new neighborhood Paint Studio and find the color inspiration they’ve been looking for to complete their next painting project,” said John Surane, executive VP marketing, merchandising and sales for Ace Hardware. “The Buy One, Get One event is the most aggressive promotion we’ve ever offered, and coupled with our award-winning helpful service and new Paint Studio, finding the perfect paint color has never been easier.”
The major idea behind the new Paint Studio, unveiled in late 2013, is that customers seek a more style-inspired and personal paint shopping experience, as opposed to a traditional trip to the hardware store. Ace and Valspar partnered to bring the new format into Ace stores, a move described as a $75 million investment.
Competition in the paint category continues to heat up. While Ace is preparing for its grand opening, Chicago-based True Value revealed plans to roll out to 2,000 stores a new and improved color center, along with a redesigned and refocused website, TrueValuePaint.com.
True Value also says its paint offering is being strengthened by ultra low-VOC colorants and paints that appeal to the environmentally conscious customer.