From NHS: Five major disruptors in hardware and home improvement

Disruption has run rampant in 2020, primarily due to the offshoot effects of the pandemic.

During a presentation at the virtual National Hardware Show, Jim Robisch broke down some of the major impacts on the hardware and home improvement industry.

A senior partner at The Farnsworth Group research and consulting firm, Robisch defines disruptors as key forces of change. DIsruptors are causing massive operational changes along with how today’s consumers shop.

“Todays’ disruptors will continue to define how you go about your business,” Robisch says. “They are forces that cause change and when things change, you have to change along with it.”

They will also have a grave impact on businesses that don’t recognize them while responding and making proper adjustments to their business.

Here’s a breakdown of five key disruptors to the industry:

Changing Buying Behavior: Hardware and home improvement stores were deemed essential and offered products that shoppers needed during the pandemic. As a result, consumers widened the number of categories they shopped for during single trips to the store. 

According to research from the Farnsworth Group, DIYers are making 61% of their home improvement purchases at home centers and hardware stores. Because these store formats remained essential while others were forced closed during the height of the pandemic, they remained as popular as ever. 

But online home improvement sales are quickly growing market share. Especially given the rise of buy online, pick-up at store, or curbside pickup, in addition to having products shipped directly to the home.

Online shopping: According to Robisch, the hardware and home improvement channel experienced 10 years of online growth within five months of 2020. Categories with little to no online penetration experienced double-digit growth in 2020, according to research from the Farnsworth Group. 

For instance, 36% of home improvement shoppers purchased paint or paint supplies online while 35% bought lawn and garden products.

Given the high level of customer satisfaction from online purchases, the trend should continue even after shoppers return to brick and mortar stores. 

“So if we think of buy online, pick it up at the store or curbside, that’s going to become everyday normality for shoppers going forward,” Robisch says.

Urban Exodus: The COVID-19 crisis is pushing many consumers out of major metro markets in favor of suburban or rural areas. Civil unrest has also helped fuel the urban exit.

In turn, homeowners plan to work from home in safer environments and larger home spaces that can contain enough room for a home office, growing families, and pets. They’re also looking to pay less taxes and get more for their value when it comes to a home.

“Work from afar, live where you want,” Robisch says.

There is a very active group of millennials who are also buying purchasing homes for the first time.

The Home Depot: Robisch says that The Home Depot has always been a channel disruptor “and they continue to be one to this day.”

“Whether it’s their approach to customer groups, operations, marketing or pricing, Home Depot continues to disrupt the status quo,” Robisch says. 

He notes that the world’s largest home improvement retailer recognized the shift in how consumers shop and buy, with Home Depot investing heavily in digital upgrades. The strategy placed Home Depot in a strong position as an unexpected surge in customers’ digital engagement occurred due to the COVID-19 crisis.