LBM Adapting to the New Retail Environment
Retail changed forever in the first half of 2020. Societies shut down to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, making it nearly impossible for businesses that didn’t have integrated e-commerce solutions to make sales. Hardware and lumber and building stores fared better than most because they were deemed essential businesses and were able to keep their doors open. But the message was sent and received by stores everywhere: Adapt to a new retail environment or suffer the consequences.
The new environment requires businesses to have omnichannel retail solutions: integrated online and in-store sales, inventory control, curbside pickup and delivery programs, contactless payment options, along with mobile applications that improve customer service and allow remote operational management. These tools all improve the customer experience, eliminate contact, and appear to be the new way of doing business. Retail experts predict consumers who developed new shopping behaviors during the shutdown will continue those practices which will require businesses to adapt.
It’s a Digital World
Shoppers began shifting toward e-commerce and delivery or in-store pick-up close to 20 years ago. The pandemic and economic shutdown simply increased the speed of those changes.
A report from research firm Rakuten Intelligence shows sales volume in e-commerce marketplaces increased 30% from mid-March 23 through early April.
- Buy Online, Pick up In-Store (BOPIS) orders increased 208% during the first 20 days of April compared with the same period a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics.
- A study by Retail Dive of 46,000 consumers shows that 73% of them use multiple channelsinternet, social media, mobile searches, print and digital advertising, and in-store kiosks – prior to making a purchase.
These trends and numbers reinforce the need for retailers to have omnichannel processes across all channels—online and physical. Paladin Data Corporation’s intuitive retail platform provides native features and specialty integrations that give independent businesses all the digital tools they need to compete with e-commerce giants and big-box retailers.
- Pointy drives the digital audience to your store by syncing unique Paladin inventory to Google
- Ez-Ad provides multi-media marketing, advertising and e-commerce solutions.
- Volusion links a store’s physical and digital sales to optimize digital reach and inventory control.
The consumers who return to brick-and-mortar stores – before the economic shutdown more than 80% of total sales were done in physical stores – are going to seek out locations with low- or no-contact solutions such as contactless or mobile checkout and payments. The research firm Shekel reports that 87% of shoppers would prefer to shop in stores with touchless self-checkout or self-checkout options.
Paladin provides mobile applications such as its Mobile2 suite of products that reduce customer contact in checkout and delivery. Mobile Access provides inventory reports via mobile devices. And Paladin Pilot provides remote business network access that allows owners or managers to run their stores from home or the road.
Terminals such as Ingenico allow for contactless transactions. Touch Dynamic Quest III and Samsung tablets let customers avoid cash register lines via remote checkout.
“LBM and hardware businesses that want to thrive in the evolving retail environment need technology that works as hard as they do,” says Jeff Rogers, marketing, sales and partnerships director for Paladin Data Corporation, which provides industry-specific software and hardware solutions for LBM and hardware retailers. “We enable stores with the tools they need to put their data to work, in-store and on the go, to thrive in the new normal.”
Not All Gloom and Doom
While the economic shutdown spelled doom for many independent businesses, others in the hardware and LBM industry flourished. Ace, Home Depot and Lowe’s all reported record second-quarter sales, undoubtedly sparked by the DYI projects undertaken by workers who were furloughed, laid off or operating from home.
In a report from Hardware Retailing, Eric Hassett, who owns five hardware stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, reflects success with his sales increasing 71% the week after California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued his stay-at-home order. It seemed for many stores, keeping products in stock was their only problem.
“Our data showed a majority of our clients stayed open and are booming,” Rogers says.
Whether your business is thriving, holding its own, or struggling to survive, on the backside of this health and economic crisis will be a new retail environment. To thrive in it, experts say your business should be operationally and technologically ready to do business in similar circumstances. Omnichannel sales processes—a strong online presence, mobile capabilities for sales and management, and programs like curbside pickup and local delivery—can keep revenues streaming even when a store’s doors are closed.
Find out what tools are needed to improve the customer experience.