EVENTS

Rule no. 1: Don’t be boring

The 3rd Annual Home Improvement eRetailer Summit delivered bytes of best practices.

BY HBSDealer Staff

Chicago – There was plenty to talk about at third-annual Home Improvement eRetailer Summit, and the polished presentations (there were no technical difficulties at this event) touched on taxes, supply chain, best practices, and statistics. The spirit of the event was summed up nicely by the title of the kick-off presentation: “Really Bad Time to be Boring: Reinventing Retail in the Age of Amazon.”

It’s also a time to embrace change – even the term “omni-channel” which for the past few years was a staple of retail headlines and white papers, is falling into obsolescence along with “Information Super Highway.” Today’s experts like the term “continuous retail,” – or simply “retail,” with a nod to the acceptance of multiple channels as mainstream.

In his opening presentation, Steven Denis, founder and president of SageBerry Consulting, described waves of change that have played upon the retail business. These waves of disruption are likely going to intensify, he said, adding: “The key for a retail is to learn how to surf.”

And such learning will require keeping a company’s collective eyes open for trends. And there’s no shortage of these either. The conference took place within walking distance of multiple Amazon Go stores in downtown Chicago. Presenter Laura Heller, director of external communications for Performics, described these stores as “a grab-and-go convenience store for the office worker.” The receipt from the cashierless experience actually informs the customer how much time was spent in the store – an important point in today’s time-pressed world.

Amazon Go is cutting edge, but Jeff Bezos’ latest baby is the Amazon 4-Star concept. This is a store that features items marked 4-stars or higher by the ratings of Amazon.com. Heller described it as a treasure-hunt style store that opened in New York City in July, and has since added locations in Colorado and California.

Not every retailer can copy the Amazon model – it’s too expensive. But according to Joe Derochowski, Executive Director, Industry Analyst, The NPD Group, now is a very good time to invest. The population demographics are smiling on the home improvement industry. “You are in a growth window,’ said Derochowski. “Take advantage of it while you can.”

Home improvement is still in the early stages of conversion to online sales. NPD research pegs this statistic at 17%, lagging behind consumer electronics, small appliances, footwear and other sectors. But the dollar-percent growth vs. one year ago is at the top of the list – 26%. Among home improvement categories, the specific leaders in online sales are air filters, area rugs, blinds, plumbing and storage, according to the NPD Group tally.

Event founder Sonya Ruff Jarvis offered “a big thank you to the speakers, attendees and sponsors who validated the Summit as a much needed event for the home improvement industry.”

The 4th annual Home Improvement eRetailer Summit is slated for Nov. 6-8, 2019, in Chicago.

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