DISTRIBUTORS/CO-OPS

House-Hasson unveiling local website tool for dealers at June dealer market

BY HBSDealer Staff

In response to demand for Web-savvy tools and a localized focus, independent retail hardware distributor House-Hasson has created a website tool that will allow customers to order products from the House-Hasson website and pick them up at a store near them.

House-Hasson’s 2,000-plus independent hardware store and lumber yard dealers will be able to employ the electronic tool to help promote a hyper-local marketing ethic to their customers and offer a digital solution to the printed circular.

“Customers will be buying locally, from their neighborhood stores, not placing an online order in the classic sense,” said Ron Yatteau, House-Hasson’s director of online dealer services. “What makes our program unique is that we’re not branding the product’s name: we’re branding the dealers’ stores.”

In addition to the use of a cloud-based website, House-Hasson will be adding social features to the program to help users stay relevant and more connected to their customers.

The tool will be unveiled at the House-Hasson summer dealer market in Sevierville, Tenn., between June 20 and 22.

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J.D. Power again points to Ace

BY HBSDEALER Staff

An annual measure of customer satisfaction among home improvement retailers is following a familiar storyline again this year.

J.D. Power & Associates Wednesday morning released its 2013 Home Improvement Retailer Satisfaction Study showing Ace Hardware at the top of the list for the seventh consecutive year.

Ace Hardware achieved a score of 803 on a 1,000-point scale and performed particularly well in the staff and service and store facility factors. Menards ranks second with a score of 770, and performed particularly well in the price and sales and promotions factors, according to J.D. Power.

Lowe’s and Menards traded places on the rankings, with Menards moving to second from third.

True Value and Home Depot also swapped positions, with Home Depot falling from fifth to fourth.

The J.D. Power report pointed to two key operational findings from its survey. One is that staff and service are the most influential factor on customer satisfaction. Secondly, while sales and promotions help drive traffic to retail, customer service keeps customers loyal.

“Home improvement retailers are continually looking for alternative ways to stay competitive and gain a larger share of wallet,” said Christina Cooley, director of the home improvement industries practice at J.D. Power. “Before you can satisfy a customer, you have to create a compelling reason for them to come in the door. Once they arrive, you have many opportunities to delight them with staff assistance and store services.”

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Eye on the weather, Do it Best sees opportunity

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Indianapolis — Bob Taylor has a good memory for weather conditions.

Back in March, the Do it Best Corp. CEO flew out of Fort Wayne, Ind., with the thermometer reading 14 degrees. On exactly the same day the year before, traveling to the same business event, the temperature was a balmy 83 degrees.

"Comparatively, we’ve been challenged," he said, during an interview here at the Do it Best May Market at the Indiana Convention Center. While the Pacific Northwest and Texas have glided through the spring selling season, much of the country has not.

For instance, Taylor said the family-run Taylor Do it Centers in coastal Virginia were down about 25% in March. The good news is that thanks to an improved April and May, the stores have made up for the decline.

"The nice thing is, it is starting to come back," he said. "I’m glad we had at least a few good weeks of weather so everybody came in a good mood. Dealers are positive, and they’re looking for new items and new opportunities." 

One of those opportunities is in the lighting aisle, as game changers such as CFLs and, more recently, LEDs, bring unheard-of technology, efficiency and price points to the equation.

"The lighting piece I think is one of those areas for independents to kind of recapture a bigger segment of that business than what they traditionally had," he said.

The regulatory environment adds another piece to the lighting puzzle.

"You already lost the 75 watt and 100 watt bulbs," Taylor said, referring to federal efficiency standards. "You’re going to be losing the 60- and 40-watt bulbs. And unless you have some giant back room somewhere stocked with all that stuff, you’re going to have to make some significant changes to your business."

No longer a "commodity category," he said, the bulb aisle gives the independents "a great chance to remerchandise that category, educate your staff and capture a bigger segment of that business. And I think it’s going to be a more profitable business, too."

On the LBM side, even when the ramp-up in commodity prices and lumber are stripped out of the equation, Do it Best is seeing gains — up 13% year-to-date in lumber and up about 10% in panel products.

"To me that’s a really good indication of that slow but steady improvement in the housing market," Taylor said.

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