There seems to be no topic hotter right now than supply chain. Where product is coming from, when it’s coming and whose shelves it’s going to make it onto is a recurring conversation throughout the industry. It’s undoubtedly been a challenging year and a half for you as much as it has been for retailers.
One key differentiator for independent retailers compared to big boxes is their ability to adapt to their local markets. We saw it early on in the pandemic, as retailers completely shifted their service models to set up online or phone ordering, implement curbside pickup and otherwise amend operations to keep staff and customers safe.
Retailers understand that you don’t have a magic wand to stock their shelves nor do you have a crystal ball to see the future. They are having the same conversations with their customers about product availability, and they know the integrity of their brand rests on their ability to solve their customers’ problems.
According to the 2021 Cost of Doing Business Survey, conducted by the North American Hardware and Paint Association (NHPA), independent retailers reported average sales increases in 2020 of nearly 23% over 2019. NHPA followed up with retailers midway through 2021, and remarkably, 60% of retailers reported sales were up an average of 14.9% in the first six months of 2021.
In the same report, just under half of respondents (47.5%) say they anticipate sales next year will be up or flat compared to 2021. That means a significant segment of the industry is not anticipating a slowdown from the current state of business. And that means you have an opportunity to build loyalty with your brand in the independent channel.
Independent retailers say vendors can lessen the strain with two key strategies: honoring loyalty and prioritizing communication. Read the insights here to ensure your brand remains a top priority for independent retailers throughout 2022.
Retailers have changed the way they buy, permanently.
Whether it’s working with multiple suppliers when they previously only had one or buying in larger quantities, retailers have reimagined their buying strategies so they can have inventory for their customers. Reward this resourcefulness with clear communication about order status and product availability, even if that means delays or limited stock. Retailers will appreciate candor over radio silence.
Retailers want to stock their favorite products, but they’re also open to new lines.
According to a midyear report from NHPA, adding new categories was the second most common response for how retailers plan to invest in their businesses next year.
Product discovery has been challenging for retailers over the last 18 months, so the more information you can offer about your lines and developments, the better. Suggesting alternatives or new options are key to keeping your brand on retailers’ shelves.
Retailers rely on and reward customer loyalty, so you should, too.
Ask any independent retailer what sets them apart from big boxes or national chains, and they will invariably say: customer service. It is the backbone of the independent channel, and customers return to their favorite store because they count on a certain level of service. Give your customers service they can count on to ensure loyalty well beyond this challenging era for the industry.