Give DIY sales a boost with branded displays

Budget and premium ranges of power tools are notoriously awkward bedfellows. However, as JOHN POWER argues, coexisting DIY and professional ranges actually present opportunities for some canny upselling.

Many retailers become nervous when bubbly novices enter their power tool department and intrude on the personal space of browsing professionals. The fear is that these ‘polar opposite’ sets of customers will somehow spoil each others’ sense of ownership of the department, leaving none of them entirely satisfied with the retail experience.shutterstock_196043033

The truth is that retail hardware stores need to cater to all types of customer groups to maximize revenue; and, fortunately, it is possible to meet the needs of disparate customer groups without alienating any one of them. Furthermore, it is possible to use co-located budget and premium ranges in a single department to encourage higher-value sales to DIY customers.

In-store presentation

At a basic level, department managers need to consider how to present both DIY and professional ranges. These days, many stores lay out power tools in groupings according to product class, such as ‘Drills’, ‘Sanders’, etc. and within each class there might be an additional hierarchy based on price, with entry level tools at one end of the display and top-end items at the other. The shortcoming of this popular method is that it opens up the entire floor to a mixture of DIY, intermediate and professional customers, with none feeling particularly well serviced – professionals may become fed up with endless in-store videos addressing amateurs; or amateurs may feel out of their depth examining expensive gear that seems to assume a high level of existing knowledge.

Focus on brand

An alternative display methodology involves tool presentation according to brand, starting with low-cost brands at one end of the department (perhaps badged ‘Everyday Use’ or something equally inoffensive), and ascending to more costly professional brands at the other end of the section (say, ‘Professional’). Immediately, some readers will protest that this is madness – surely you have to put all the drills, for example, ‘together’ in one easy-to-find collection so a shopper can make a beeline to that particular display. And doesn’t the same logic mandate a series of separate, clearly defined ‘clusters’ of same-type products? I.e.: drills, polishers, saws, grinders, routers, etc.

Let’s question these assumptions for a moment. Do DIY customers, in particular, really know the precise type of power tool they need for a specific task? For instance, a homeowner wanting to install a gate might go to their hardware store for a conventional drill. However, depending on the materials and fasteners involved and the sturdiness of the gate, the customer might be better served with a hammer drill, or even a combination of hammer drill and impact driver. The lesson here is that novice customers are good at seeking solutions to problems, but not so good at choosing devices for applications – even if they are the last ones to admit it!

Presentation of power tools by brand rather than product genre achieves valuable additional functions:

(1)
It forces the customer to view a manufacturer’s entire range, potentially reminding the customer about unfamiliar products or even introducing the customer to entirely new product classes/capabilities.

(2)
The customer is compelled to compare the prices and depths of product ranges across different brands (in adjoining displays). An extensive product range under one brand name might give a customer more confidence to make a purchase.

(3)
DIYers are unlikely to ‘hover’ near top-end, high-priced equipment featuring brands aimed at professional users.

(4)
Promotional materials (such as videos) aimed at DIYers are most likely to cluster at the ‘budget brand’ end of the spectrum, out of range of the brands aimed at more sophisticated trade users.

(5)
Brand-based displays allow individual manufacturers/suppliers to contribute their own hard-hitting, autonomous merchandising displays – something manufacturers crave, inevitably leading to far stronger in-store presentations by highly competitive companies.

(6)
Customers, when confronted with a sliding scale of brand options based on price, are statistically more likely to choose ‘something in the middle’, rather than either extreme of the scale.

(7)
Store staff explaining the differences between brands, or the functions of different classes of equipment, are perfectly placed to propose additional sales or to upsell.

(8)
Customers who have received helpful, customised attention from store staff are generally less inclined to leave and shop elsewhere.

(9)
Store managers wishing to promote sales of a particular brand are better placed to do so in a brand-based department.

(10)
Presentation by brand solves the problem of where to display multifunctional tools.

Success stories
Of course, brand hierarchy based on price or a perceived ‘DIY/Pro’ division is bound to include some grey areas – certain brands might accommodate a wide diversity of budgets and customer skill levels – but the principle of an ascending hierarchy of brands from DIY to Professional should be easy enough to establish.

The idea of presenting products according to brand is not new, particularly in the context of an existing defined department. It is interesting to note that other hardware departments have already followed this strategy successfully. Good examples are evident in the presentations of door furniture, for instance, where entire ranges of locksets and handles are assembled by brand rather than generic ‘type’ of product. Fastenings departments, depending on the retailer, are also prone to present a mix of brand-based displays from high-profile individual companies alongside no-name suites of products.

The essential problem with displays based on classes of products is that uninformed budget sales occur too easily. A customer entering a store with a particular product in his mind’s eye may forever remain ignorant about other important classes of product. How many DIYers never buy a router because they don’t know what routers do and never have cause to wander into the ‘Routers’ aisle? And how frequently does a manufacturer or retailer receive negative feedback because the product was used for an inappropriate application?

A big advantage of brand-based displays is that they motivate the customer to examine a fuller range of products, and at least question whether some of the tools might be useful for current or future projects. Aligned to the superior display merchandising that accompanies brand-based displays, the scope to learn about new tools and functions is greatly enhanced.

In-store information is more important than ever, and an invitation to power tool manufacturers to enhance their in-store brand presence can only assist retailers and lead to better sales.