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MARKET INSIGHTS Can hardware retail survive the internet economy? Understanding customers’ habits, preferences is vital to evolving and thriving in new, tech-driven environment with all the options available to them, they aren’t likely to return. Look at your store from the cus- tomer’s perspective. Are you making it easy for them to do business with you? (See “Retail 101: The Checklist.”) By George Maginnis Power of POS One way to free up staff members to get them out on the floor to create that great customer experience is relatively easy: Automate those time-consuming It’s no secret that retail businesses have been under assault from internet retailers for some time. Let’s face it, shopping online has never been so easy, convenient or, dare I say, so satisfying. The reasons for this are plentiful. First, a truly staggering selection of products are available for purchase on the internet. Online retailers are always open; and customers can shop for products at any time right from their computer or smartphone, if they’re so inclined. Furthermore, online retailers have access to lots of inventory. So what- ever the customer is looking for, it’s probably available — at an attractive price. And in many cases, the pur- chase made online will likely be delivered overnight, at no charge, to the customer. How to compete? This is the place where I’m supposed to point out that a good point-of-sale system will solve all your problems. Well, that just wouldn’t be true. (But it would be a good first step.) To really compete with the online competition, you have to start by giving your customers a compelling reason to do business with you, again and again. If they don’t have a good experience shopping in your store, 30 back office chores like purchasing, ordering and receiving. A point-of-sale system that can suggest which items to purchase using your store’s historical sales data, instead of rigid minimum and maximum quantiles, would be a huge asset. When inventory purchases are based on upcoming need, you’ll find yourself buying less, meeting cus- tomer demand with fewer out-of-stock events and parking your profits in your Retail 101: The Checklist Does your store open up early enough to serve contractors and stay open late enough for people who work all day? Are employees actively greeting customers and engaging with them to direct them toward the products or solutions they’re looking for? Is your staff well-trained? Do they have enough knowledge to suggest add-on items that will increase the total sale? Is your store clean and neat? Are prices displayed so they are easy to see? Does your inventory reflect the unique needs of customers in your area? Are you stocking the right depth of these and all other products? Are you giving your repeat customers NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 HARDWARE + BUILDING SUPPLY DEALER an incentive to return by signing them up for a rewards program? How smooth is your checkout sys- tem? Are cashiers well trained and able to quickly handle any situation? Do you have an outside sales person working in the community, finding new customers and serving your current customers? Do you offer free delivery? Source: George Maginnis