WHY WOMEN ARE BUYING MORE TOOLS

Women Are Making Their Mark on Home Improvement

Women have made their mark in the world of home improvement and repair.  Today, tools are being developed that make women feel inspired and empowered.  This is a direct result of the number of women who have taken on their own home improvement and rennovation projects, and who are purchasing home improvement products.  The Wall Street Journal reports that women are buying 61% of major home fix-up products and, according to Forbes, women initiate 80% of all home-improvement purchase decisions, especially when it comes to big-ticket orders like kitchen cabinets, flooring and bathrooms.

Overall, women account for more than $70 billion worth of purchases in the home improvement industry, up from $55 billion in 1995 (according to a recent survey by the Home Improvement Research Institute).  This rising trend is due to women tackling home repair projects on homes they own themselves. In fact, within the first year of home ownership, women spend almost $9,000 on home improvement projects. Contributing to the growing trend of women purchasing tools are home improvement shows and hardware stores catering to women shoppers.

“Women are very influential and powerful consumers when it comes to home improvement projects around the house,” said Rob Cappiello, industry vice president of the National Hardware Show. “In addition, single women are purchasing new homes at twice the rate as single men, which contributes significantly to their increased involvement in do-it-yourself home improvement projects.”

Single women are now the second-largest group of home buyers in the U.S., after married couples, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Women are now responsible for 21% of home purchases, says the NAR, and at the end of 2010, women-headed households  represented approximately 28% of the U.S. total, or 31 million.

What Renovation Projects Interest Women?

Although many people still consider home improvement projects to be a man’s job, three-quarters of American women ages 25 to 49 say they are doing more home-improvement projects today than five years ago, and a solid 80% plan to tackle at least one home-related project in the next year.  In a national telephone survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of Scott Towels by Kimberly-Clark, the #1 reason women took on home improvement jobs was to save money.  Personal pride and satisfaction was the second most important reason.

Hands-down, the most popular home improvement projects for women are:

  • Painting                                               86%
  • Bathroom remodeling                         38%
  • Wallpapering                                       35%
  • Plumbing                                             30%
  • Kitchen remodeling                            29%
  • Tile work                                             28%
  • Additions or renovations                    27%
  • Electrical work                                    23%
  • Laying carpet                                      18%
  • Window replacement                          14%

What Tools are Women Looking for Today?

The popularity of the Home & Garden TV Network (HGTV) and the Do It Yourself Channel (DIY) demonstrates how many women are taking on home improvement projects, and not just the easy ones.  Women have become much more adept at using power tools, air tools, all types of saws, and even plumbing and electrical tools.  Tools are an important aspect of women being able to handle these renovation projects and complete them like a “pro”.  Besides watching television shows, many women are seeking the assistance of the local home center or hardware stores, and consulting friends or reading books, in order to improve their skills.

When it comes to retailers, shopping in a home improvement center was described as “easy” by nearly one-third of respondents, while one-quarter deemed it “more fun than food shopping.”  Home improvement stores received high marks for their marketing efforts and treatment of women; with 64% of respondents saying the stores did a good job overall. Home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot are getting in on the action by providing in-store workshops to women. These workshops demonstrate what materials and tools are needed for how-to projects. Television programs and workshops help women become more knowledgeable about tools so they know what items to purchase.

This year (2011), Home Depot is recognizing that while women may be half of its customers, it has not catered to them in ways that translate into a larger market share.   “People are starting to spend more money again, and we need to participate in that,” said Gordon Erickson, the senior vice president for merchandising and décor at the Home Depot.

“For years, we’ve always had a bad — I don’t want to say a bad reputation, it’s more that people look at our business and think it is male-oriented, dominated,” Mr. Erickson said. “Fifty percent of our customers are female. We need to offer her products that she wants.”

Because of the accelerated interest women have in becoming “do-it-yourselfers”, lines of tools have been created specified to fit them more comfortably.   Some tools designed for today’s women include:

  • 16 oz. curve claw hammer with a smooth head. This all-purpose hammer is not too heavy on a woman’s wrist, but heavy enough so a woman can do the job right.
  • 25-foot tape measure. Its width makes it easy to read the numbers and it doesn’t bend when pulled out a few feet.
  • 10-inch tongue-and-groove pliers. This tool easily controls plumbing fittings and nuts.
  • Retractable utility knife with blade storage in the handle. This tool is used for cutting everything from vinyl tiles to drywall. The blade is easy to replace and stores in the handle for safety.
  • Ratcheting screwdriver with multiple bits. The multiple bits change out easily, depending on if a small or large Phillips or a slotted head is needed. The ratcheting action allows you to keep a steady pressure on the head of the screw while simply twisting the handle in place.
  • How-to Guides written specifically for women.

Women are looking for tools that make them feel independent.  Manufacturers, therefore, try to create tools that are lightweight, have rubber grips, and are ergonomically designed without compromising strength.  Women still want to know that the tools they are purchasing have strength – they don’t necessarily want “light duty” tools or tools that won’t get the same job done as those designed primarily for men.

Safety Is Particularly Important to Women

Because women are concerned with safety, some manufacturers are beginning to offer safety-related equipment designed specifically for women.  Before the rise of female do-it-yourselfers, safety gear did not fit women properly, causing them to feel uncomfortable and not fully protected. Now manufacturers like AOSafety and Kimberly-Clark are tapping into women’s buying power by creating a line of sleek and stylish protective gear that features eye, hearing and respiratory protection for women.

Without alienating the male market, common name tool manufacturers such as Black & Decker, Makita and Ryobi are creating products with features that are attractive to women. Products like sanders, power drills and hammers are lightweight, compact and ergonomically designed. Some lines have better-fitting, more comfortable products, including masks that are flexible and adjustable with breathable fabrics, gloves with a better fit and grip, and coveralls that allow the wearer to move easily and remain cool even when performing demanding tasks.

Throughout history, when we think of HOME, we think of WOMEN.  The home has always been the female domain.  Today, women are buying more homes than men, and are spending their time and money to renovate and repair those homes. Women, on a grand scale, are buying tools and other equipment to help them make those renovations and to prove that they are just as capable as men in the world of home repairs.

Retailers and Manufacturers – BE ADVISED! 

The market for women’s products in home improvement will continue to grow.  Are you paying attention and will you cash in on this relatively new area of sales and profitability?

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How to Drive More Customers to your Website

 

 

 

Driving traffic to your website is an organic process that takes time and one that never really ends.   Here are some tools to help you achieve a growing number of visitors.

Blogging & Content Management

Whether you offer a service or a product, blogging can help you drive traffic to your website.   Even if your product or service hasn’t changed at all, blogs will change daily, weekly or monthly and can help drive returning customers back to your site, since they’ll have something new to review. Here are few ways that blogging helps drive traffic to your site:

  • Defining your expertise – Blogging can demonstrate to your customers how much expertise you have in a particular area.  If you sell a certain type of product, blog about it and provide statistics on how much consumers are purchasing that particular product at this time.  You can also talk about trends with respect to that product or explain how the product is growing both online and in the brick & mortar retail locations.  You can explain the importance of this product and why everyone should strongly consider purchasing it.  All of this information will demonstrate how much you really know about your product and help your customer understand why they should do business with you.
  • Customer Research – Make sure you don’t forget to ASK your readers to leave comments about your blogs. Encouraging them to do so will get you a lot more comments and emails.  This is a terrific way to understand who is reading your blog and what they’re interested in.    You may find out what is bothering them about this product or line of products, what other products they’d like to see in your store or on your e-commerce store, and even what kind of customer service they expect.  You’ll be able to determine if your brand is leaving a strong impression on your customers and if it isn’t, you should take some steps to strengthen it.

Special Reports and Link Building

  • Special reports, webinars, PowerPoint decks, audio programs and videos can all help you provide interesting information to your website audience.  You can publish these reports right on your website, or you can also publish them online at various article respositories.  Part of what gets websites higher rankings on the major search engines is back links. Back links are the number of links pointing back to a particular website. Most modern search engine algorithms, give higher ranking based on the number of back links to a particular site out on the web.   Sometimes referred to as a “popularity meter”.   If you write articles, submit them to article repositories with footer text and a link to your site, you will see links back to your site. This in turn would raise your SERPs (search engine result position) getting you higher up the search engine lists.
  • Link building is becoming less specific as more and more marketing techniques are evolving to generate clicks to your site. Basically, the term refers to generating inbound links to your site from other sites on the Internet. The two major benefits of building your link-presence online are a) to introduce another site’s followers to your site and b) help your search engine optimization in terms of ranking.  There are a few ways to link-build.   The most common way is to comment on an article, blog post, or message board and include your link. Be careful though because if you merely post a link to your site instead of a comment, you may be flagged as spam, which could result in your being banned permanently from posting on that site.  Try to write meaningful posts and include your link at the bottom, with your signature.  Hopefully, readers will end up going to your website after reading your comment.

Organic  SEO

Search Engine Optimization can drive potential customers to your website without employing expensive marketing campaigns through organic search. Studies show that every time there is 1 click on any paid search advertisements, there are 8.5 clicks on non-paid or “organic” listings. Organic results are gathered by search engines’ web crawlers and ranked according to relevance to the search terms. This relevance is calculated by criteria such as extent of keyword match and number of sites linking to that website. (Source: Hubspot.com).  In addition to, traffic driven through search engines is better quality, since your site offers something a searcher might be interested in.  There are generally 2 types of SEO:  on-page and off-page.

On-page refers to things like:

  • Keywords in the content
  • Keywords in the hyperlinks
  • Keyword density
  • Meta Tags (some engines)
  • Site Map
  • Off-Page refers to such things as:
  • Amount of incoming links
  • Quality of sites that link to yours
  • Relevancy of sites that link to yours
  • Keywords in the anchor text

By utilizing content driven blogging, special reports, pay per click advertising and organic search engine optimization, you can drive more traffic to your website to gain more of a targeted audience and in turn,  more customers for your bottom line.

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HOW CONSUMER TRENDS ARE AFFECTING TODAY’S RETAIL

 

 

 

Today’s retail consumer is considerably different from the consumer of yesterday.  In the 50’s, consumers were happy to have so many different choices.  They shopped a variety of stores, not necessarily giving just one store all of their business.  Times were simpler then and consumers could get a lot more for their retail dollar.  In the 60’s, consumers were trying new and innovative sales techniques and products.  Television had finally come unto its own and many retailers were able to advertise their products on T.V.   This had a huge impact on what and where consumers shopped.  In the 70’s and 80’s, consumers were demanding more.  If they were going to dip into their discretionary spending, they wanted to make sure they were really getting their money’s worth.  They were also demanding more value for those items they needed to buy each month.  Today, things are changing. You need to adapt, evolve and reinvent yourself continuously.

As we moved into the 1990’s, consumers were just beginning to use the computer to analyze their options and see what was available, at what price.  Then, the 2000’s brought about a new century of technology, with ultra new-age methods of communication.  Unfortunately, we landed in 2008 and 2009, headed for a recession which ultimately changed everything we thought we knew about retail consumers.

As expected, the global recession changed the behavior of consumers. They became more value conscious, more attracted to private labels, less likely to purchase large discretionary items and less likely to eat outside the home. Yet the duration and depth of the recent downturn raises the possibility that these changes in consumer behavior will be sustained even after recovery takes place.

Here are a couple of trends that will have long-reaching affects on consumer buying behavior:

Too Much Product

Most retailers offer too much product. This is a symptom of a disconnect between buying teams and the ability to understand customers, but it is also a failure to recognize the life cycle of products, brands and SKUs. Retailers often boast about the large number of SKUs they offer, but exiting a category or product range can be as important as the introduction of a new one. In the future, smart retailers might boast of how many SKUs they have eliminated and take pride in the focused nature of their offering.  Offering fewer products means that the retailer truly understands the consumer – their preferences and lifestyles – and can anticipate changes in those attributes.  This will help strengthen customer loyalty.

Interactive Retail

Retail today is hard work.  Shoppers are exposed to 1.5 pieces of marketing material every second. Shoppers engage with a marketing display once every 4.3 seconds.  84% of marketing material is ignored.  “Over half of all shoppers that spend at least $50 in our store pre-research that purchase online” states Barry Judge Chief Marketing Officer Best Buy.  “82% of shoppers use their mobile phone while in the store” responds Erin McKelvey Senior Vice President Millennial Media.  The Internet and social media are changing the way people shop, make referrals, recommend products, listen to others, decide what to buy, and decide where to buy it.  Especially for those under 30, technology is everything.  Their mobile phones have become part of their “family” and they don’t go anywhere without that attachment to the outside world. Retailers will have to start figuring out how to make social media and the Internet more of their marketing story and develop their brands around the mobile generation. . Internet shopping may become the number one way people shop. So it is important to keep your website updated and constantly improve it.

The Urban Push

Less than 5% of the world’s population lived in cities a century ago. In 2008, for the first time in humanity, that figure exceeded 50%.  In the last two decades alone, the urban population of the developing world has grown by an average of 3 million people per week.”  By 2050, it will have reached 70%, representing 6.4 billion people. Most of this growth will be taking place in developing regions.

Where will this lead us? We now have a global consumer arena inhabited by billions of experienced and newly-minted urbanites. The significance?  A forever-growing number of more sophisticated, more demanding, but also more try-out-prone, super-wired urban consumers who are snapping up more ‘daring’ goods, services, experiences, campaigns and conversations.

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The retail potential of Facebook credits

The way retailers and customers interact has changed, and now, thanks to Facebook, consumer purchasing may be headed in a likewise direction.  Facebook Credits has provided a system that makes purchasing virtual, and now real goods easier than ever before.

Currently, there are 300 million consumers playing games through Facebook, and so, Facebook came up with the concept –  Facebook Credits.  Facebook Credits are a virtual currency you can use to buy virtual goods in all games on the Facebook platform. You can purchase Facebook Credits using your credit card, PayPal, a mobile phone and many other alternative payment methods.   There are many games available on Facebook, including Farmville, Cityville, Mahjong Trails, Mystery Manor and even Scrabble and Chess.  Credits allow you to play (and buy virtual goods) in exchange for the credits.

Even though Facebook is not a direct sales channel, they are at the cusp of developing a ROI for retailers that goes beyond engaging customers in an attempt to monetize the site.  For example, Cold Stone Creamery took a bold step using virtual goods to deliver e-certificates that were redeemable at physical locations. The results were modest, but after securing $10,000 in revenue for their efforts, this could be the start of a huge trend. American Express also jumped into the act by allowing customers to trade in points for virtual goods to be used in these games like Farmville and Mafia Wars.  According to experts, it is only a matter of time before Facebook credits become accepted in other retail stores and by other businesses.

Facebook has two other applications that hold promise for retailers – Shopkick and Plastic Jungle.  Shopkick is the first multi-retailer rewards program on your phone that rewards you just for walking in. You can collect kickbucks at participating shopkick retailers like Best Buy, Macy’s, Sports Authority, American Eagle and SIMON Malls and turn them into Facebook Credits.   You can also turn gift cards into Facebook Credits.  Plastic Jungle is a Facebook application that allows you to enter your gift card information, then use a prepaid label provided to mail it in. Once received and verified, your credits are added to your Facebook Credits account. Plastic Jungle pays out up to 92% of a gift card’s balance (rate is based on brand, seasonality, etc).   And, you get 10 Facebook Credits for every dollar in trade-in value. For example, you get 920 Facebook Credits for a $100 Target gift card.

As soon as more retailers figure out how to leverage Facebook Credits, we are likely to see a complete integration of a convenient, universal form of payment…especially since this social media giant continues to expand at an unstoppable rate.  With amazing opportunities for loyalty and reward programs for customers and in-depth targeting for businesses, Facebook Credits holds true potential. It may not be all that long before you are trading in your Visa for a Facebook Credit Card.  With worldwide use of Facebook, Facebook credit could be the first true global currency.

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RETAIL CHALLENGES FOR THE REMAINDER OF 2011

During the next decade consumers will change dramatically, shaping a far different business environment than anything seen in recent years. Retiring “boomers” will buy less; GenY will shop primarily via smart phone or other handheld devices; and growth in emerging economies will create a new middle class along with a geographical shift in spending. Linking these trends at breakneck speed are developments in media and technology that provide consumers with more purchasing information and further empowering their ability to purchase what they want, when they want it.  Are retailers prepared to address these changes? What does the future have in store?

Let’s take a look at the remainder of 2011 to see what retailers are facing right now.

The Economy & Forecasting Demand:   Although we were getting messages that the economy was improving,with the current problems in Washington and increasing debt, it is clear that the U.S. economic situation is not going away very soon.  Retailers are still facing the unknown and are having a tough time trying to accurately forecast demand.  Who will buy and how much will they buy are the questions retailers are struggling with today.

Volume Growth:  Retail is basically a volume game. Going forward, with competition intensifying and costs scaling up, the players who are able to grow volumes by cutting costs and warding off competition will have the final advantage.

Price:  In spite of an improved outlook at the end of 2010, frugality and conscious shopping will remain the norm for U.S. retailing throughout the rest of this year. That means that prices would prompt shopping decisions over merchandise quality.  Across all income levels, all consumers rank price as the most important reason for store choices by a significant percentage ahead of other criteria. Hence, retailers will have to be very sharp about offering trend-right and well-designed assortments without compromising on quality in order to improve merchandise margins besides offering the wares at compelling price points.  In addition, as a result of the limited availability of consumer credit and the fall in wages and personal wealth, shoppers are looking for more discount shopping opportunities.

Reinventing Retail:  In this recession, consumers are rewriting the rules by demanding a synergy of value and price.  Retailers will only be able to provide value by making sure the items they sell are well-made and are meeting the needs of the consumer.

A New Normal:  Digital super-convenience, multi-channel retail and innovative product ranges are some of the ways retailers will need to go in order to appeal to the recession age consumer.  Consumers want to shop when and where they decide, so make sure you have a good e-commerce capability and don’t overlook the strength of social media.

Cost of Living Index:  Rising inflation can put the brakes on sales as consumers are forced to spend disposable income on more expensive food and fuel.  Any sustainability of momentum will rest squarely on the continued economic recovery and improvement in the job market. This will ultimately boost consumer confidence and disarm prudent discretionary spending.

If you like this information, you’ll really like this SPECIAL REPORT “Top 5 Strategies for Retail Store Growth in Difficult Economic Times”.

About the author; Elias Amash is the President of GRIP.   Located just south of Grand Rapids, Michigan, GRIP features a 200,000 sq. ft. state of the art warehouse facility including a 2,000 sq. ft. product showroom. GRIP carries a product line of over 1,500 specialty hand tools, household items, automotive, air tools, wood working, and general merchandise. With its proven track record of excellence in supplying retail clients with innovative products, timely fulfillment, and world class customer support, the ideal solution to your retail needs in GRIP.

 

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Ten Steps to Top-Notch Customer Service

Because of the recession, and the value of a dollar, customer service is more important today than ever.  If you want your retail store to be successful – if you want to beat out your competition – follow these simple 10 Steps to Top-Notch Customer Service:

#1:  Focus on the quality of your customer service and the quality of your product or offering.  Don’t let price be your only differentiator.

  • Despite the recession, consumer emphasis on price has decreased in the last few years.  Today, customers want VALUE: they want the best possible combination of product and service at the “right” price.

#2:  Listen to the voice of the customer and make sure your employees are sensitive to what your customers want and need.

  • 77% of customers say that in the past year the quality of customer service provided by companies has stayed the same or gotten worse, while 50% of employees at those companies providing the experience think service has improved.  There is an obvious disconnect here that needs some attention!

#3:  Let your customers know how easy it is for them to reach “live” service agents through channels of their choosing (on-line, on the phone, etc.) and make sure that your employees always provide “first-contact” resolution. 

  • Customers who say it is hard to deal with a store, said it is because their problems or issues are not resolved the first time they contacted the store for service.  43% also said they found it difficult to reach a service representative.  If they can’t reach someone, then naturally, it’s impossible to get their issues resolved and even if they do reach someone, if that person is not instructed on how to resolve the issue, if they’re not empathetic and empowered, then first-contact resolution is impossible.  Customers don’t want to make numerous calls.  If they don’t get their issues resolved promptly, they’ll just go to your competitors and they won’t come back!
  • Today’s consumer are more vocal than ever – 66% are placing calls, emailing or sending in letters to complain about a bad experience.  This is no small issue, as 20% of the customers who reported their bad experience said they did not even get a response from the company. Ultimately, 57% of them decided to take their business elsewhere.  Not responding, or slowly responding can be especially disruptive.
  • Customer service employees reported that they were 8% less likely to be prepared to deliver the right customer service experience. Employees were 11% less likely to say they had the necessary tools to solve customer’s issues than in the past few years.  You need to make sure that you have a customer service PLAN in place so your employees have policies and procedures they can follow each and every time they are helping a customer.  Your employees need to know what they are supposed to do and what they are allowed to do in resolving customer service issues.

#4:   When customers call on the phone, follow a few simple rules of etiquette.

  • It makes good economic sense to take the extra time and effort to make customer service calls as meaningful and service oriented as possible. Attention to customer service will go a long way in helping you to satisfy your customers and make them feel as if they are truly special. Always tell your customer what you CAN do for them. Don’t begin your conversation by telling them what you CAN’T do.  Allow irate customers to vent. Do not interrupt them or start to speak until they have finished having their say. Diffuse anger by saying “I’m sorry or “I apologize.”  Use your customer’s name at different points in the call.  Always conclude each call with a “Thank you” or a verbal message of appreciation for their business and make sure you’ve explained to them in detail what you are going to do to resolve their issues.

#5:   Train your employees so they really know your products!

  • Make sure that your employees are well-versed on your products and services. Knowledge is an important ingredient in completing a successful sale and the customer appreciates that your employees are thoroughly familiar with your company’s offerings. Give weekly trainings so your employees learn about new products and also, so they are up to date on everything you sell, the features & benefits, warranties and other issues relating to the products.

#6:   Great customer service is an investment in your company and customers so don’t cut costs when it comes to your customer service budget.

  • In response to the recession, most organizations have reduced their investment in their customer care operations, as reported both by executives and employees. Customers have reported a decline in service in the form of:  more bad experiences, fewer resolutions, and registering greater defection rates.  However, due to the recession and the fact that each customer has to make sure that the money they spend is being spent wisely, customers are placing significantly more emphasis on customer care.  The result is obvious.  You can’t cut back on customer service now, and you’ve got to find a way to make it work!

#7:   Make it VERY EASY for customers to contact you and let them know you are waiting for feedback.

  • 41% of customers who did not bother to report their bad experience (34% defected without saying a word) said they did not bother because there was no convenient way to report it to the offending company.  Come up with some kind of a give-away or contest that encourages customers to give feedback – good or bad – so that you are well aware what they are experiencing, both with regard to your products and your customer service.

#8:  Listen to and engage customers on social media.

  • Social media is today’s court of public opinion.  80% of customers who had a bad experience took their story to Facebook, Twitter, and many other social media platforms. On average, an individual using social media reached over 100 people with their individual tweets or postings! And, if they heard about someone who had a bad experience with a retail store, 62% said they stopped doing business with that retailer. Social media will continue to grow in the future, so you’d better get prepared and become part of the new technology and communication.

#9:  Don’t offer up a bunch of worthless excuses.

  • Delivering on a promise results in a customer delivering you the order. Even though we live in a litigious, red-tape, bureaucratic world, good customer service is as old as a handshake. Your word is your bond so make it mean something. Your customer will appreciate it and you will appreciate their business.

#10:  Focus on making customers, not sales

  • Don’t forget – it costs 5 times as much to bring in a new customer, than to keep an existing one.  Repeat customers save you money because you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel to get them into your store or to your website. Every new customer comes with costs, whether it’s advertising, marketing or time spent explaining and describing your products and services. Repeat customers are gifts you give yourself because you did it right from the start and your reward is their loyalty and continued patronage. Only 16% of customers who left a company after a bad experience said they would be willing to do business with that company again if some effort were made to win them back. Don’t burn the bridge by not providing the best agent-based experiences, and don’t focus so much on diverting your customers from agents that you damage the relationship.

If you like this information, you’ll really like this SPECIAL REPORT “Top 5 Strategies for Retail Store Growth in Difficult Economic Times”.

About the author; Elias Amash is the President of GRIP.   Located just south of Grand Rapids, Michigan, GRIP features a 200,000 sq. ft. state of the art warehouse facility including a 2,000 sq. ft. product showroom. GRIP carries a product line of over 1,500 specialty hand tools, household items, automotive, air tools, wood working, and general merchandise. With its proven track record of excellence in supplying retail clients with innovative products, timely fulfillment, and world class customer support, the ideal solution to your retail needs in GRIP.

 

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What’s Your Competitive Advantage? Focus on these 5 Categories to Beat out Your Competition!

What’s Your Competitive Advantage? Focus on these 5 Categories to Beat out Your Competition!

Driven by discriminating customers and increasing competition, independent retailers of all sizes are searching for new formulas to achieve a competitive advantage.

Some retailers perform their daily activities in only an “adequate” manner.  Successful retailers, however, possess certain capabilities that allow them to perform certain key activities exceptionally well.  These capabilities are a retailer’s “unique value propositions” (UVPs) or “distinctive competencies”.  It is these capabilities that give a retailer his or her competitive advantage.


 

 

 

Retailers who have strategy with respect to the delivery of their UVP’s outperform companies with a less clearly defined focus. Delivery of your UVP’s generally comes in one or more of the following categories:

  • Price
  • Service
  • Quality
  • Location
  • Existing customer base

PRICE:  Being the low cost provider of a product can be a quick path to gaining more business or market share than your competitors.  But this strategy has serious risks. Even if you plan to drive out your competitors, you might find that your competitors will just cut their prices too and drive you out! You’d better make sure you really can sell the products at the lowest price and still survive!

SERVICE:  This can be a serious differentiator and competitive advantage, if you are truly giving better service by responding quicker, getting it done quicker, getting it there sooner, or providing value by helping your customers before, during and after the sale. However, if you add a huge percentage to the price of your products (in some industries 20%), you may find that customers don’t care about your speed and will turn to your competitors for a slower, but cheaper, alternative.

QUALITY: This is important in most industries and people will pay for quality.  However, people don’t like to pay good money for products that fail prematurely or for products that are supposed to wear out rapidly anyway.  Of course, quality is very important for certain products such as safety and medical equipment.  The best retailers will purchase goods that are the highest quality, while still being within the price point of what his customers will pay.  This demonstrates how important it is to know your customers, to know what they want, what they like, and how much quality they will and won’t pay for.

LOCATION: This can be a competitive advantage if you’re the only game in town.  People will buy from you as opposed to traveling far and wide to find the product elsewhere.  For example, if you sell concessions at a ballpark or other special event, people don’t want to leave the premises, so they are willing to pay more for your snacks.  However, here again, you don’t want to end up making your customers mad, or they will just come to the ballpark with food in their pockets.  Don’t force your customers to use your competitors.

EXISTING CUSTOMER BASE:  If you already have a solid group of customers, they are more likely to continue to buy from you, even if your products are a little more costly, or your service is a little slower.  They know you and most people hate change.  They hate the idea of having to invest time and energy into finding another vendor, not to mention, will the new retailer be trustworthy?  This brings up the idea that you really must go out of your way to satisfy your existing customers.  Really get to know them, give them what they want, make it easy for them to buy from you.  Give them special “deals” for their loyalty.

Unfortunately we live in a fast changing world.  New competitors with better products or service arrive on the scene almost daily.   Today’s Internet extends the reach of many retailers.  When demand for your product or service slacks or increases, it’s in your interest to try to find out why.  Find out why your old customers are not buying from you.  If they are switching or thinking of switching find out why and figure out which of the above factors you can do something about, and get moving.

If you like this information, you’ll really like this SPECIAL REPORT “Top 5 Strategies for Retail Store Growth in Difficult Economic Times”.

About the author; Elias Amash is the President of GRIP.   Located just south of Grand Rapids, Michigan, GRIP features a 200,000 sq. ft. state of the art warehouse facility including a 2,000 sq. ft. product showroom. GRIP carries a product line of over 1,500 specialty hand tools, household items, automotive, air tools, wood working, and general merchandise. With its proven track record of excellence in supplying retail clients with innovative products, timely fulfillment, and world class customer support, the ideal solution to your retail needs in GRIP.

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