True Value holds court in D.C.
Washington, D.C. — True Value Company spent the weekend in Washington D.C., spreading the word about the power of the independent retailer, and promoting programs designed to succeed in a changing, challenging retail environment.
During the co-op’s Saturday night general session, digital marketing took center stage. The company emphasized its transformational approach “targeting profit and growth back to your business,” in the words of David Elliott, senior VP of marketing. The marketing strategy favors digital over print, and a targeted-approach over mass marketing.
The 60-minute session covered a wide swath, from web site strategy to inspirational stories of dealers. Highlights from the general session presentation in Washington, D.C. included:
• The new TrueValue.com was promoted with the idea of driving more customers into the store. To that end, 1,200 warehouse items are being designated as “in-store only items.” The new site also plans to deliver local-store pricing, an announcement that generated spontaneous applause from the crowd of dealers. The website is expected to go live April 1.
• The need to transform the marketing approach was backed up by stats on the changing nature of media. For instance: more than 22 million people have canceled cable, and more than 70 million are expected to cancel cable. Plus, shopping on websites has jumped from 26% to 45% of the population.
• A partnership with HomeAdvisor, an online service that connects home owners to contractors. HomeAdvisor purchased Angie’s List in late 2017. One of the benefits for True Value members is an enhanced ability to offer home installation services without liability.
• COO Abhinav Shukla predicted improved operational efficiencies through the deployment of a JDA demand-planning and forecasting system.
• Keys to success revealed. Senior Vice President of Growth Tim Mills pointed to common denominators of high-performing members. These include a “Deep commitment to relevance and customer service,” and a “strong relationship with their True Value rep.”
The session also included inspirational videos of Bailey’s in Florida, and Village True Value and Montecito True Value of California. These stores suffered through natural disasters in 2017, and remained open to serve their communities above and beyond any normal business requirement.
The True Value Reunion in Washington, D.C., which included a Saturday night concert from rock legend Pat Benatar, runs through Feb. 12.
Orgill merchants leap into spring
It might still feel like winter. But at Orgill, “Spring is Here.”
That’s because the company says the 2018 spring season will mark the latest evolution in merchandising for its dealers. Boyden Moore, general manager of retail for the distributor, describes the Spring is Here program as an integration of buying programs, assortment strategy, marketing tools and training materials.
And it all takes place in the critical growth category of lawn and garden, which accounts for about 20% of sales at a typical independent hardware store.
“Lawn and garden is a great way for dealers to differentiate and grow their brand,” he said. “A strong lawn and garden department drives higher frequency of visits and also attracts new customers.”
Described as an intensely collaborative effort between dealers and Orgill’s purchasing, sales, merchandising and marketing teams, Spring is Here balances price, margin and brand awareness for optimum sales. Two more important adjectives attached to the program are “comprehensive” and “customizable” — factors that lead to a winning assortment that meets the needs of the local marketplace.
The program begins with an understanding of the independent dealer’s market-specific needs that support their unique brand. Of course, regional differences play a major role in localized assortments.
From there, it balances assortment with the brands that draw customers and the brands that deliver margins for dealers. One notable result of the process: Scotts products are not included in the assortment.
Moore explained that balance this way: “Utilizing brands, especially regional brands, is a key differentiator in making sure our dealers are seen as the lawn and garden authority in their market. Some higher-priced brands don’t offer as much of a premium in performance. Spring is Here features compelling ‘compare and save’ values to the end customer, which also drive better margins for Spring is Here retailers. And we price shop thousands of items nationally to make sure that our dealers are priced competitively while maximizing their margins.”
Orgill also leans on its Hardware 101 assortment-planning tool to achieve optimum customization. The distributor can recommend relevant brands or the retailer can specify brand preference. Hardware 101 uses retail science to suggest categories worth stocking based on records of similar dealers.
The goal for any distributor program is in-store success. And according to Moore, a customizable program like Spring is Here promotes the common denominators Orgill observed among its most successful retail customers:
• A winning assortment of locally-relevant products customized for the store’s brand;
• A well-organized department that is easy to shop;
• Competitive retail pricing; and
• Highly trained associates.
“Spring is Here is designed to deliver on all counts with customized assortment, merchandised with power endcaps, compelling in-store signage and customer brochures that tell the story, all supported by training materials for the dealer,” Moore said.
The approach behind Spring is Here — customizable and collaborative — works well across the store, according to the Orgill mindset.
“We see some big opportunities to use this concept and the intense collaboration behind it to find more ways to help our dealer be successful,” Moore said.
Huttig searching for new CFO
Huttig Building Products reported that Oscar Martinez is no longer serving as the company’s vice president and CFO.
The St. Louis-based building products distributor revealed the move, effective Jan. 31, in a SEC filing. Martinez joined Huttig as CFO and vice president in April 2016.
Company president and CEO Jon Vrabley has been appointed interim CFO by Huttig’s board of directors. A search for a new CFO is underway, Huttig said. Vrabely has served as president and CEO of Huttig since January 2007. He also served as interim CFO from June 2015 to April 2016 and as chief operating officer from Novermber 2005 to January 2007.
Additional details regarding the personnel change were not revealed.