Delivery services such as Gently.io are expanding. After already serving the Los Angeles area, the electric-powered vehicle service is expanding into New York City and other major metro areas in coming months.
You may regard yourself as being in the construction and home improvement business, but if you’re a dealer, you’re at heart a retailer. That’s why I joined roughly 40,000 people in New York in January to look for ideas at the National Retail Federation (NRF) annual convention. The NRF’s Big Show produced a slew of products and trends that hardware retailers should consider. Here are seven:
1. Electronic Price Tags/Info Billboards
You might have heard of these products for years but questioned how well they work and how long the batteries last. The old electronic tags were limited. Today’s electronic tags can be controlled by Wi-Fi or through signals from the lights, with batteries that can last a decade. Perhaps more important, new electronic price tags come in far more sizes, making it possible to provide lots of information. They can even be interactive. Imagine a price-tag bar that helps customers pick fasteners, caulk or tools without having to wait on staff. (If you go this route, keep in mind that you will need staffers or outside help—probably in marketing—who can write the promotional copy for these screens.)
Today’s electronic tags can be controlled by Wi-Fi or through signals from the lights, with batteries that can last a decade.
The tags also enable stores to change prices more often and more selectively. Offering discounts for only a few hours during a Ladies Night is a classic example. With electronic tags, you can choose which products to discount and by how much rather than having to offer a certain percentage discount for every product in the store.
2. Cameras that Track Inventory
You might have heard about dealers such as McCoy’s Building Supply that use robots to track inventory. The Big Show had several robots, but here’s an alternative: a camera that you can hang on a shelf and have it scan stock on the shelves across the aisle. The resulting picture, connected to software, identifies which products need restocking. If you want to add your store’s planograms to the software, the camera can tell whether the store’s staff are following planogram instructions.
While a robot likely would be used on every aisle, the camera’s maker, Vusion, envisions these cameras being used selectively, in rows that are particularly important. They can be moved whenever needed.
New software can be plugged into existing camera systems to identify potential shoplifters or customers who simply look lost and don’t know where to find what they want to buy.