A woman’s home is never done. There will always be another wall to paint, a closet to organize, or a room to renovate. With the rise in popularity of decorating, renovating, and home flipping shows on channels like HGTV, home improvement stores have gone from a place to seek, buy, and get out to a place to browse and linger.
Women account for 91% of new home purchases and are responsible for more than half of the purchases of home improvement products, traditionally thought to be a male-dominated category. Home improvement stores are taking notice. Nevertheless, their efforts to cater to women haven’t always been successful. Old school strategies like “shrinking and pinking” where retailers offer smaller and pinker versions of common items like tool kits, have been known to backfire, making women feel like they are being belittled. Instead, home improvement stores, hardware stores, DIY and garden centers should focus on four points: education, inspiration, convenience, and community.
Gone are the days when a store’s sole purpose was to focus on the transaction. Smart retailers know that to remain competitive in today’s market, they must create an outstanding customer experience. In the home improvement industry, there are excellent opportunities to educate customers, whether it’s about how to plant the perfect terrarium, pick the best barbecue, or build a birdhouse.
Education of the customer means more than just workshops and seminars: it’s also about the in-store personal interactions. Are your sales associates knowledgeable? Is your website informative? Since home improvement stores usually have such a broad product assortment, it’s impossible for sales associates to be experts on every single SKU. That shouldn’t, however, be noticeable to the customer: you can equip sales associates with additional product information on mobile devices using tools like a digital product catalog so that they can easily access relevant data from anywhere in the store.
Retailers who succeed in making an emotional connection with women will reap the rewards. Whether you’re getting her excited about getting her backyard ready to entertain beloved friends and family or painting her baby’s nursery, home improvement is naturally a vertical that’s rife with opportunities for inspiration and connection.
It is sometimes said that men buy, and women shop. This is only sometimes true: there are certainly times when women would like to get in, grab a specific item, and get out quickly. The store is a selling machine, and there are opportunities to inspire around every corner. Whether it’s creating homey displays, or cross-merchandising the perfect kits together, there are plenty of opportunities to inspire, even in the most gargantuan, coldest warehouse settings.
Don’t forget about inspiring on the web. Modern e-commerce platforms provide the opportunity to create blogs, articles, and attach multimedia elements to product and category pages.
Although there’s a place for immersive experiences, seminars, and workshops in home improvement stores, there’s also a need for fast and convenient service. Whether she’s a single professional or mom shopping with young kids, she likely has other plans for the day and won’t want to waste time with long checkout lines.
Sell the way she buys. That means that you need to adapt to the needs of different shoppers and to her changing needs over time. She should know that you understand her life and all its demands: shopping needs to be a pleasant and easy activity.
How can home improvement stores make life easier for women? Rapid checkout using mobile POS is one way to eliminate the frustration that comes along with long lineups. On the web, retailers should offer store stock availability checks to help her plan her trip, and BOPIS (buy online pick up in store), to make store visits all the more efficient.
Hire more women! Not just cashiers. Your store associates are a powerful resource for building personal connections with shoppers. Harness that power by giving them tools to connect with shoppers before, during, and after the sale. One innovative tool that’s transforming the way sales associates interact with their brands is Personal Shopper, an online portal where associates can curate their favorite items, share projects, and connect with customers by chat or email. Customers can even book an in-store appointment to get more one-on-one help from their favorite associate.
The web is an amazing place to build community. Use your website to promote user-generated content. Ratings and reviews are also key in showing shoppers how your products can be used. Bringing reviews to the next level by allowing customers to upload photos of their completed projects or items in use in their homes is another smart strategy. Some retailers even host forums on their websites to encourage customers to help each other with their projects in an environment that the retailer can control.