The floor of the Indiana Convention Center was bustling over the weekend at the Do it Best Fall Market, with retailers returning for the co-op’s first in-person buying event since last fall. The focus of the event was product discovery and exploring new solutions the wholesaler offers.
“Our markets are always about highlighting the strength of the industry and showing our members how they can drive growth through the solutions we offer,” says Do it Best director of communications Randy Rusk.
The event saw attendance back at pre-pandemic levels, which was marked by a 20% increase in attendees above the co-op’s previous in-person market, which was last fall. In addition, the wholesaler saw a 50% increase over last year’s record of new member attendees.
“The significant increase in attendance is driven by it being a year without an in-person market,” says Do it Best vice president of merchandising Dent Johnson. “The virtual markets we’ve hosted over the last few years have been successful logistically, but we’ve heard from members that what they like most about in-person markets is the ability to connect with other members and vendors and touch, feel and experience products.”
The ability for in-the-moment product discovery is a key draw for attendees.
“This was our first market since the pandemic, and it was nice to be back. We came for inspiration and to see what was new,” says Diane Christofora, owner of Woodstock Hardware in Woodstock, New York. “It’s always fun because we find things we didn’t know about that end up being a good fit in our store.”
Part of the product discovery experience included over 70 new vendors, and there have been hundreds of new products added to inventory since the spring market.
“It’s been a busy show and we were able to find some great buys. We stocked up on some great buys, including pellet grills,” says Brad McDaniel, owner of McDaniel’s Do it Center in Snohomish, Washington. “The deals were so good, there’s no reason not to stock up. We sell a lot of outdoor living at our store and appreciated the selection at the market.”
Solutions in Action
At previous markets, Do it Best has introduced two key areas of category and product solutions, called Core Solutions and Category Solutions. These areas offer retailers an opportunity to discover store set options, see the latest in featured categories and access deep discounts. Relaunching at this market is Endcap Solutions, an area where members have indicated they could use additional assistance.
“Our members expressed needing help ensuring they have relevant endcaps,” Rusk says. “Our solutions here at the market offer inspiration and can help them make sure they are seasonally relevant and can implement regular turns.”
New at this market, retailers can experience those featured areas in one place, called Solutions in Action.
“Solutions in Action is the best of the best of what we do,” says Johnson. “It’s a broad selection of our key assortment programs, all wrapped up in our award-winning store design.”
Solutions in Action offers attendees an opportunity to see the possibilities of the wholesaler’s strongest planograms and the assortment potential in featured categories. At this market, Do it Best is highlighting lawn and garden, paint and paint supplies and cleaning supplies, all of which have continued to have strong showings over the last few years.
“What makes this area unique is that it’s a culmination of all of the programs we’ve introduced over several years,” Johnson says. “It’s an area that showcases our best-in-class analytics and our strong vendor partners.”
Debuting in the Solutions in Action space is the wholesaler’s latest offering: lockers that allow retailers to streamline same-day pickup for online orders.
“At this market, we’re encouraging our members to invest in same-day in-store pickup,” Johnson says. “We’re demoing the new pickup lockers right outside the Solutions in Action space, and members can start ordering those now.”
The success of this program is reliant on strong inventory management practices, and to help members find success, Do it Best has established a white-glove service for retailers.
“Our teams are ready to help members analyze their inventory and establish best practices,” Rusk says. “This service is geared toward members who are experiencing staffing challenges and may not have enough staff who they can dedicate to inventory management full time.”
This program is in response to meeting consumer expectations, which have shifted over the last several years.
“We’ve seen a big shift in consumer behavior toward independent hardware stores,” Johnson says. “They have discovered the value of the channel, and we recognize that buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) is where things are headed. This program allows our members to provide a smoother process for their customers. Once you get consumers to buy online, you get them to experience the store.”
Retailers expressed interest in exploring the options to see where these types of services can help them boost the buy online segment for their business.
“BOPIS has slowed down for us since customers have been back in the store,” says Woodstock Hardware owner Vince Christofora. “It was good to hear what the future of BOPIS will be.”
This solution is another layer of the wholesaler’s ongoing commitment to technology growth overall.
“We are planning a significant investment in expanding e-commerce capabilities, and exciting things are coming in that space over the next 12 months,” Johnson says. “Our goal is always to drive growth to members’ businesses by giving them access to customers that right now they’re not able to access. Our focus is on getting members to integrate their POS systems and have competency in in-store inventory because those drive what we can do next.”
To support these efforts, Do it Best has established a new division and named Nick Talarico as vice president of e-commerce. Click here to read more.
Spring Forward to Florida
Earlier this year, Do it Best announced a shift in its market strategy to take the spring event to locations throughout the U.S. while the fall market will continue to be hosted in Indianapolis.
The 2023 Do it Best Spring Market will take place March 11-13 in Orlando.
“We saw an opportunity to create new experiences for our members, and we’ve received feedback that the March timeframe is ideal for them,” Rusk says.
To help encourage attendance and streamline the process of planning for a new spring market location, Do it Best members had the opportunity to register for the spring event on-site at the fall market. In addition, the wholesaler established a market travel incentive program: Members who meet the purchase threshold at this fall market and attend the spring market will receive a $1,500 travel incentive.
Growth opportunities will continue to be a theme in the spring and beyond, Rusk says.
“Our philosophy is that we need to be ready to support our members,” he says. “We have kept the pedal to the metal on strategic investments in growth, infrastructure, member growth initiatives, inventory and e-commerce through the pandemic. The markets are a great example of every element we are investing in to drive member growth.”