The second annual eRetailer Home Improvement Summit was held Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Orlando, Florida, and speakers at the event discussed how home improvement retailers and suppliers can compete online.
Differentiating Your Store
Al Meyers, who leads business innovation strategy at consulting firm Kalypso, presented on new trends in retail and how retailers are differentiating their businesses at the brick-and-mortar level to compete against the allure of online shopping and are creating brands that people recognize and want to shop.
“We’re seeing business models that are extremely formidable and will dramatically change the retail landscape,” Meyers says. “Both suppliers and retailers need to innovate in order to survive, which means creating brands that are unique and have a loyal following of shoppers.”
Meyers says that connected products—from smartphones to smart lightbulbs—is a fast growing market, and will include 21 billion connected products by 2020, representing $36 billion in revenue.
He says one way retailers can innovate is by incorporating connectedness into the retail experience and developing an innovation strategy. Meyers says retailers and suppliers need to communicate to continue innovating and improving the customer experience at the store level.
Differentiating Your Website
Once you choose to put your business online, it’s important to accurately reflect your brand and help your customers come to the right conclusion about the product their purchasing.
Elizabeth Ragone, senior vice president of direct to consumer at tableware company Lenox, discussed the value of content on a website and how it not only leads to increased sales, but also to customer loyalty.
Content isn’t just words and isn’t just video, either, Ragone says. Retailers and suppliers can create brand loyalty by determining if the content answers one of two questions: Why this company? and Why this product?
When determining what behind-the-scenes information to share with customers, Ragone says it’s important to think about that information from a brand loyalty point of view.
“What stories about your business aren’t you telling, and what value could those stories create for customers?” she says.
When it comes to selling, Ragone says websites should be organized by use or project, rather than by category. In her presentation, she used the example of a big-box home improvement retailer’s web page of wrenches. How does the content help customers determine which wrench is the right one for their project? If it’s only product numbers and prices, then it’s not doing enough.
The Future of the Industry
Summit founder, Sonya Ruff Jarvis, who has had 20 years researching and consulting for home improvement businesses, discussed the future of the home improvement industry, which represents a $350 billion market. She says the online home improvement industry will continue to grow significantly, and there is room for players other than big boxes.
Other industry speakers included Alyssa Steele, the general manager of electronics, home and garden and sporting goods for eBay; Paul Matker, CEO of Thanx Media, an e-commerce platform company; Steve Greenspon, founder and CEO of Honey Can Do, an online retailer of organization and storage products; and Peter Giannetti, editor-in-chief of HomeWorld Business magazine.