At the United Hardware Fall and Winter Buying Market, held July 27-29 at the Minneapolis Convention Center, attendees found ways to improve their average transaction size, increase their margins and invest in their communities.
“We had a strong opening attendance, with retailers as optimistic and sunny as the weather outside,” said president and CEO Steve Draeger. “Some of our customers have had challenges related to the mild winter and, especially for those in rural areas, with the uncertainty of recent tariffs. Still, their attitude is upbeat as they focus on ways to stay relevant to their communities.”
A brand new feature of the market was a separate impulse area, dedicated to offering ideas for merchandising around the checkout counter. In that area, which drew a lot of interest from market attendees, United Hardware offered a variety of impulse displays. Sample cash register stations also had live POS stations, so attendees who were looking for a new POS system could see a unit in action.
Other highlights of the market included areas dedicated to promotional products to drive traffic, a large display of new products and many core items offered at a discount designed to increase margins. Retailers could also learn about a new program from United Hardware that makes it easy to create in-store signage for promotional items.
The market was also a time to learn about business best practices. On Saturday, a seminar by Joe Szvetitz of Risk Management Services informed retailers how they could identify the main factors contributing to shrinkage in their businesses.
“Our biannual buying markets are about United Hardware continuing to invest in our customers as they in turn invest in the shoppers coming in their stores,” says Draeger. “This weekend, we showed them a lot of ideas for growing ticket size and increasing store traffic.”
Focus on Facebook
Another highlight of the market was a panel discussion with retailers on how to best utilize Facebook to promote a business. The discussion, “The Power of Facebook,” was moderated by Dan Tratensek, publisher of Hardware Retailing magazine. Retailers participating were Mark Jackson of Mark Jackson’s Red Oak Hardware in Red Oak, Iowa; Ken Thoreson of Solon Springs Merchantile in Solon Springs, Wisconsin; Seth Howard of Howard’s Hardware Hank in Arcadia, Wisconsin; and Steve Bremer of Larson’s Hardware Hank in Osage, Iowa.
The discussion touched on a range of Facebook best practices, including creative ideas for generating new customers, using Facebook Live to stream video from your business and information on how to budget time and resources to maintain a store’s account.
“Facebook is a social media and you are in a social business,” says Tratensek. “One of the ways you can beat your competition is by showing you are a part of a community–that’s one of the reasons people come to your store–and one of the great ways you can do that is by connecting to your community on Facebook.”
For many attending the panel discussion, Facebook is a growing part of their marketing strategy.
“The seminar was a great learning time for me,” says Randy Swanson of Swanson Hardware in Emmetsburg, Iowa. “My son posted on our store’s Facebook page that were getting ready to attend a seminar about Facebook best practices. By the time we were done, we had 73 Likes on that post! We are going to continue to put a lot of emphasis on this as a way of engaging our customers.”