The 2019 Do it Best Spring Market landed in Indianapolis May 17-20, and the co-op brought expanded opportunities for members to discover new products and enhance customer experiences.
“It’s all about customer experience,” says Rich Lynch, Do it Best Corp. vice president of marketing. “Consumers can buy things in many different ways and places. One thing we’re doing at this market is bringing items to life and helping our members cut through the clutter to help them enhance their customers’ experiences.”
One example of that was found immediately upon entering the market floor with the Launch Zone. This area of the market floor featured potential vendors that have unique products ready to bring to the home improvement channel. This is the second market to feature the Launch Zone, which debuted at the 2018 Do it Best Fall Market.
“There hasn’t been a dull moment at the Launch Zone,” Lynch says. “Many of the companies that were in the Launch Zone at the fall market are now full stocking warehouse vendors.”
Retailers flocked to the Launch Zone throughout the market, and a key reason is because the vendors were continually demonstrating their products.
“The Launch Zone gives prospective vendors more visibility at their first time at the market,” communications director Randy Rusk says. “One of the qualifiers of being in the Launch Zone is that it needs to be demonstration-focused because that helps our members see how they could recreate that experience in their stores for their customers.”
The Launch Zone caught the eye of Angie Fugate and several members of her team who attended the market from Bender Lumber Co. in Bloomington, Indiana. The operation has been in business since 1931, and they have been with Do it Best for more than 30 years.
“In the lumber business, we primarily serve professional customers and builders, so we’re always looking out for items for that customer segment,” Fugate says. “We have staff here every day of the show, and we come twice a year.”
Fugate and her team were interested in learning more about a new LED lighting system that was featured in the Launch Zone.
They also checked out Sneak Peek, which was a market floor preview on Friday evening that featured special buying opportunities. According to Rusk, this year’s event saw record-breaking sales. That wasn’t a surprise to Fugate.
“Sneak Peek was really great this year,” she says. “It was really busy.”
Experience Through Data
An ongoing initiative for Do it Best focuses on the collection and analysis of customer data, which Lynch says are crucial for retailers to compete in today’s digital world. A cornerstone of data collection and understanding customer behavior is the Best Rewards program. The program launched about a decade ago, and over the years, with help from several dedicated Do it Best staff members, Best Rewards has become a vital component of the marketing program, Lynch says.
“We made a serious commitment to make data available through the loyalty program, and now we’re hiring staff to engage members with the program and help them use it better,” he says.
Lynch says member participation has tripled over the last several years, but he doesn’t believe in boosting participation numbers if members don’t know what to do with the data.
“The rewards program helps members become smarter marketers because they can respond to what their customers have shown a liking for in the first place. It’s a solid foundation of marketing intelligence,” Lynch says.
“Our internal staff are focused on the entire suite of marketing, and they’re helping members determine what initiatives they should be focused on to reach different segments at different times based on what the data says.”
Do it Best members are recognizing the need to embrace digital uses in retail, which Do it Best senior communications specialist Allison Meyer says was obvious during the standing-room-only session on e-commerce the co-op hosted during Education Day at the market.
“The number of members we have who are interested in learning more about their digital and e-commerce options is growing,” Meyer says. “In some cases, they have an e-commerce website, but they’re not driving sales through it, or they’re getting found through their website, but they’re not pushing product through.”
The co-op is reimagining its e-commerce offerings and updated websites will be launching for members later this summer and early fall.
“There are two reasons to have a website: to boost awareness of a business and to sell product,” Lynch says. “We put together a tiered program that allows members to find the right e-commerce solution. It will help them tell their story and sell their items at their prices. We believe a member’s website should be about that member, and with this program, we’re going to roll out exceptional member and customer experiences.”
At the store level, there is compelling data about programs that enhance the customer experience. For example, Do it Best introduced The Color Bar two years ago, which transformed the paint departments in members’ stores.
“The Color Bar shifts the physical layout and the look of the department, but it also makes the mental shift from selling cans to selling color,” Rusk says. “For consumers, buying paint is an emotional experience, and The Color Bar creates an entire department around that experience because it’s focused on color. We have seen double-digit sales increases for members who have installed it.”
Beyond the Market
Bringing innovative products to members doesn’t end at the close of each market. Do it Best commits to finding the next opportunity twice a year at its Open Buying Day events. Vendors bring their products to Do it Best headquarters in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and pitch them to buyers.
“We like to call it ‘speed dating’ with vendors,” Lynch says. “Open Buying Days are a wonderful feeder program that allows us to help our members refresh their market and offerings.”
A new opportunity members can take back to their stores to boost sales on high-ticket items is a new partnership Do it Best has developed with a consumer financing company.
“Consumers today, especially on big-ticket items, expect flexible financing,” Rusk says. “This program gives our members that flexibility with their customers.”
The co-op also continues to expand training opportunities for members, especially in the way of professional services in the lumber and building materials channel.
“We have a greater focus on providing lumber members the products and services they need to combat the labor shortage in the trades,” Rusk says. “We want to help equip new people in the industry to be more polished because that helps them be more effective in serving their customers.”
Rusk says many members in the LBM segment have started providing installed services, such as roofing, insulation and electrical. Do it Best is enhancing its internal knowledge to be able to better support retailers who are taking on those initiatives, he says.
“We are boosting our own knowledge to prepare the next generation to be LBM experts,” he says. “We are investing in better onboarding and training, and we’re bringing people in from different backgrounds into this industry who can be those resources for our members.”
The Do it Best 2019 Fall Market will take place Oct. 18-21 at the Indiana Convention Center. Future Do it Best markets will transition to February and September in Indianapolis.