Around nearly every corner of the 2019 Do it Best Fall Market this weekend in Indianapolis, attendees could see New Vendor flags flying high above exhibitors’ booths. The flags are a symbol of the co-op’s commitment to continue providing new growth opportunities for its members and to providing an enhanced market experience.
The Launch Zone, which Do it Best debuted at its fall market last year, is a space at the front entrance of the show floor that showcases innovative new products.
“The new vendors in the Launch Zone have something truly unique that we believe can be a differentiator for our members,” says communications director Randy Rusk.
Throughout the weekend, vendors hosted enhanced product demonstrations for attendees so they could see the capabilities and the advantages of the products.
Right behind the Launch Zone is the reimagined New Item Gallery. Do it Best repositioned this area at this market to a more prominent spot on the show floor. The layout of the space is different, too, with items merchandised on featured shelves. The products in this space are the top 20 percent of new items Do it Best has in stock.
“Our merchandise managers have identified the trending items that are a must-carry in the store,” Rusk says. “The new setup of the New Item Gallery gives our members a chance to look at the items that can enhance and differentiate their businesses.”
New products are always a traffic driver at markets, and that’s the case for the team from W. W. Fairbairn & Sons Hardware, which is based in Alanson, Michigan.
“We operate a hardware store with an HVAC and plumbing business attached,” says Sam Fairbairn. “There are five of us here this weekend ordering for both of our businesses.”
Alanson is in northern Michigan and sees a fair bit of seasonal tourist traffic. Fairbairn says they come to the market to see new ideas that will appeal to those customers.
“We like to keep the hardware store stocked with new products,” she says. “In our area, organic products are a driver, so we like to see what new vendors offer items in that category.”
Getting to the Core
New vendors and new product areas aren’t the only new opportunities on the market floor. Do it Best also featured the Category Solutions and Core Solutions store setup areas, which provide Do it Best members a simple way to see the products they should have in stock and how they can merchandise them to sell.
Category Solutions introduced 14 category opportunities at the spring market, and added three more at this market, including 24 feet of hand tools.
“These markets are all about our members getting the full experience and seeing great savings. We are offering some significant opportunities throughout the market, but especially with the Core Solutions and Category Solutions sets,” says Do it Best vice president of merchandising Dent Johnson. “These spaces show the most up-to-date assortments which can be purchased as a whole set or in sections so retailers can be sure to get the product mix they need to serve their market.”
The hand tools Category Solutions set is merchandised by brand so retailers can see how they can tailor their departments according to the top names driving sales.
Samantha Post, marketing and human resources manager for T & M Hardware & Rental, which operates six stores in Pennsylvania and Ohio, stops at the Category Solutions setups to be sure her store locations have the stock that Do it Best recommends and to get merchandising ideas.
“The market gives us a chance to take a step back and remember what everything is supposed to look like,” Post says. “Especially in our smaller stores, we tend to take displays apart and split up planograms, so it’s good to see what the recommendations are from the co-op.”
Core Solutions offers attendees a detailed look inside a specific department as it could look in a home center setting. Each market will have a Core Solutions focus moving forward. Do it Best chose to launch the area with a plumbing and electrical focus because those categories are often significant traffic drivers for members.
“With the help of our merchandise managers who stay on top of regional and national trends and forge relationships with vendors, we identified the categories where we know our members can be dominant,” Rusk says. “With the Core Solutions setup, we can show them how they can be dominant. Providing these categories in a store setting helps our members envision how it may look in their store and makes that translation a little easier. ”
In the Core Solutions store setup, attendees could see the planograms that show how to adapt the assortment for a hardware or lumber operation.
“The Core Solutions area is 5,000 square feet dedicated to plumbing and electrical in a home center setting,” Johnson says. “It’s the best-in-class plumbing and electrical products, and it serves as the inspiration for setting up a store.”
Serving Up Options in Paint
Two years ago, Do it Best introduced The Color Bar, a store-within-a-store setup for members to reimagine their paint departments and draw in consumers who tend to make design choices, especially paint, based on color.
Over the last two years, Do it Best has made even more commitments to helping its members enhance the customer experience and grow sales in the paint department.
Last year, the co-op entered into a partnership with Paint Sundries Solutions to expand access for its members to specialty applicators. At the spring market, Do it Best introduced expanded options in its line of Best Look brushes and applicators.
At this market, the company highlighted its new relationship with Benjamin Moore and its brand new stocking program with PPG’s Glidden paint line.
According to Rusk, about 15 percent of Do it Best members’ sales come from paint and accessories, which is why the co-op has made such a significant investment in the category. Do it Best president and CEO Dan Starr says this combination of options in paint makes the company a dominant player in the industry.
“I challenge any of you to show me a more robust, comprehensive paint program in the entire industry,” says Starr. “We should be your first choice. We know we’re your best choice. And if you want to dominate in paint, we’re the only choice.”
Customer Experience in Practice
Many updates at the market—from new products and new experiences, like an auction on Sunday afternoon to updated signage throughout the floor—are examples of how Do it Best treats its entire weekend as a learning experience for its members. Rusk says it’s all about delivering on enhancing the customer experience.
“We ask our member-owners to differentiate in a competitive, crowded market and do things others won’t do, like host special events, stock unique innovative products and create an exciting in-store experience,” Rusk says. “It’s more than just being friendly and getting to know customers. It’s about building a shopping experience. Our members are our customers, so we’re ensuring they have exceptional experience at the market with new products and new programs. We’re just practicing what we preach.”
The 2020 Do it Best Spring Market will take place Feb. 7-11 in Indianapolis and will kick off the co-op’s 75th anniversary.