Ten nuggets of omnichannel knowhow from Will Aubuchon
Las Vegas — Will Aubuchon didn't hold back with the morbid metaphors during his stage session at the National Hardware Show.
"Death and demise have always been part of the retail tradition," he said, before inviting viewers to a retrospective of the "retail cemetery" of extant brands and "intensive care unit" of the struggling stores on the brink of extinction.
"The entire sky is not falling, but there are unidentified objects falling more and more from the sky, and they do have the ability to kill you," he said before outlining the multifaceted threat of Amazon. Did you know that 63% of American households are members of Amazon prime? Exactly.
The fourth-generation owner of Aubuchon Hardware — founded in 1908 and now a major proponent of futuristic retail via its Aubuchon Go initiative — acknowledged that committing to omnichannel was a hard and scary thing to do. However, commitment is all or nothing, "and in a sick kind of way, it's kind of fun too."
Here are 10 of his best tips for navigating the leap.
1. It's all about making things as seamless for the customer as possible. Amazon arguably leads the way with 1-click ordering, its subscribe & save feature, and Amazon Echo (for hands-free shopping).
2. If you don't have a buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) program, you might not survive the contemporary retail revolution. For example Walmart has been rolling out pickup lockers, apps, store redesigns, a pickup discount, and new store formats to allow pickup in tandem with getting groceries and gas. Some more accessible goals for the independent retailer? Look to Aubuchon's example. Customers can order from any device, have Aubuchon assemble the order in minutes, and then notify them when it's ready.
3. To sweeten the deal for your loyalty program, consider including customer-specific discounts and saved payment methods.
4. Don't just think about the front-end experience: consider how it's going to work behind the scenes at your store. At Aubuchon, employees know there's a new digital order when there's an audible sound at the store. Plus, a ticket is printed, there's a visual indicator at the POS, and they're currently working on the ability to send a message to the earpiece.
5. The pickup experience at the store should not be an afterthought either. Make sure it's right up front, and make it a visually appealing part of your store.
6. Customer experience goals are crucial when rolling out an omnichannel initiative. For instance: make it easy to reorder items, or offer precise delivery estimates.
7. When it comes to software as a service, "there's no white knight," he said. Getting multiple services to work together is complicated and hard, so be wary of providers who overpromise on their flexibility, and consider investing in your IT staff instead.
8. There's no need to reinvent the wheel. Rather, force yourself to become a frequent omnichannel shopper at Home Depot.
9. Your ultimate goal is realtime inventory, so it never hurts to begin improving accuracy today.
10. If you choose to skip omnichannel for now, the one thing you absolutely should have? Mobile-friendly emails.
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Safety Works puts the spotlight on the products
Las Vegas — The name is the same, but there have been a lot of changes at Safety Works, a long-time exhibitor at the National Hardware Show.
Purchased by Protective Industrial Products in February 2016, Safety Works is emerging from a transition period of product streamlining and of securing new suppliers for its job site safety products.
"The past year has been one of streamlining and growing stronger than ever," said Bryan Gallagher, marketing specialist for the Latham, N.Y.-based PIP. "We have a full team in place behind the products."
One of the most visible changes here at the Safety Works booth in Las Vegas is the absence of sports team logos on hard hats. The reason: The company is moving away from licensing deals.
"The licensing deals are a dime a dozen," Gallagher said. "For us, we don't think that's what is going to set us apart from the competition. What we're doing instead is driving home the story of safety and quality."
He pointed to some of the features of the company's work-horse hard hat, the Safety Works Pro. It has five raised channels for structural support. It has more back of the neck coverage. And inside, six-point suspension makes it more comfortable to wear.
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Slide show: National Hardware Show gets going
Las Vegas — It’s show time.
The National Hardware Show kicked off here at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and some 2,600 exhibitors are fighting for attention.
The general mood was upbeat, and a number of exhibitors who spoke with HBSDealer were pleased with the activity in their booths. The retailers in attendance were rewarded with an abundance of new products and educational opportunities.
“The theme of this year’s Show is all about taking the next three days to rethink the way you do retail,” said Rich Russo, the VP of the National Hardware Show in his letter to attendees.
The event runs through Thursday. Above are some of the early scenes captured on film by HBSDealer editors.