In retail, there is a growing demand for businesses to reach shoppers both online and through brick-and-mortar stores. Modern shoppers expect an omnichannel approach, says Joe Derochowski, executive director and home industry analyst for The NPD Group, a company that offers consumer behavior data and analysis.
Hardware Retailing spoke to Derochowski to gain insights on the challenges home improvement retailers may face in implementing omnichannel solutions and some practical tips they can use to rise above those challenges.
Hardware Retailing (HR): What are your thoughts on the state of the home improvement industry and its online presence?
Joe Derochowski (JD): The home improvement industry is in really good shape. However, it is in the early stages of an online presence. In fact, research from The NPD Group has found that just 17 percent of dollars spent online are devoted to home improvement products. However, growth for home improvement sales online is up 33 percent versus a year ago, which proves the industry is poised for growth.
There are many opportunities for the industry to continue to excel and grow sales. Baby boomers are focusing on making their homes more accessible, and many millennials are buying their first homes—these are major life moments that will have consumers seeking products and advice from home improvement retailers.
Simultaneously, today’s consumer turns to the internet more frequently than they did 10 years ago. Projects begin with a search online. Although many home improvement shoppers still go to the brick-and-mortar store to get items to solve in-the-moment problems, the industry needs to find ways to serve them online.
HR: What are some omnichannel challenges retailers may be facing?
JD: For the home improvement industry, one of the biggest challenges of meeting the demands of the customer is focused on logistics. The retailer needs to be able to get their customers the items they’re looking for quickly and efficiently.
An even bigger challenge retailers are facing is the need for a voice online. The customer is already researching on their phone and computer, so to compete, a retailer needs to tell a compelling story to earn the customer’s business.
Retailers should focus on marketing methods that show the company’s personality and tell customers what the business offers. For example, creating online content like a library of how-to YouTube videos can answer questions and get a store on their radar.
HR: How can home improvement retailers meet customers’ needs online?
JD: Consumer shopping habits are changing, whether we like it or not. We need to find ways to meet the consumer where and when they want to shop—this includes both brick-and-mortar stores and online. The ability to provide assistance is still important, but we need to find new and better ways to provide this assistance, such as one-on-one video consultations or house calls.
Retailers should consider investing in ways to make it easier for customers to plan, research, order, deliver and return their purchases. Foster an omnichannel presence to ensure you’re serving all possible customers and staying competitive.
Joe Derochowski is the executive director and home industry analyst for The NPD Group. He follows behavioral trends in a wide variety of categories, developing a unique perspective on what consumers do and why they do it. Derochowski has been helping manufacturers and retailers identify opportunities for growth for the past 30 years.