Increasing retail sales is a primary objective for both building product manufacturers and their distributors.
There are several factors that contribute to the performance of a product line, from cost and presentation to how it aligns with customers’ purchase motivations. It also comes down to improving product placement to bolster brand awareness; enhancing information access to encourage product consideration; increasing foot traffic in the retail space itself; and developing targeted, data-driven channel marketing strategies.
How to Increase Sales in Retail Environments
Depending on the scope of your product portfolio, your retail sales needs may need to cater to DIYers and local home improvement Pros and Builders alike. Each of these customers have unique challenges, preferences, and motivations that require specific selling tactics.
Here are a few considerations for bolstering your retail sales:
1. Use Packaging and Merchandising that Communicates Value
Although it can be tempting, you don’t want to reduce either the price or the quality of your building products to increase profit margins. While re-assessing your pricing strategy is important in 2023 and 2024, price cuts for the sake of price cuts isn’t going to be a sustainable strategy in the long run.
Instead, focus on developing merchandising and packaging that effectively communicates the value of your products and positions the brand such that any difference in price does not deter consideration in lieu of cheaper alternatives.
Conduct market segmentation research to ensure these marketing strategies are aligned with current customer challenges and motivations, brand usage and other distinguishing factors among customer segments.
2. Lower the Entry Level Price Point for a Product Line
If you feel like price is a barrier to cultivating brand loyalty and getting new customers to try your products, consider introducing a product with a lower price point to make the entry level more accessible.
This way you can avoid taking the discount shortcut, that so often leads to tarnished brands, but give more price sensitive shoppers a chance to sample your product line at a more affordable level.
Reintroducing products at entry level price points will advance market penetration efforts during economically tighter times. Especially as homeowner desire and intent to remodel remains high, but budgets are constricted, your brand can keep unit sales up among DIYers and local contractors, while simultaneously earning favor during PLRs with top retailers.
Be sure to conduct product development research to gain insights into the features that are required of the customer, and which features are ‘nice to have’. This will allow you to de-engineer your product to achieve a lower cost deliverable.
3. Create Complimentary Digital Collateral
One strategy for boosting retail sales is to create digital collateral that is both complimentary and complementary.
Feature your materials and products in how-to videos and project idea videos that you and your channel partners can share on your YouTube channels, social media, and your websites. While videos are optimal, blog posts and infographics also may be valuable.
This strategy is beneficial because it increases awareness of your brand, exemplifies how customers can use your product, and adds value during the consideration phase of their buyer’s journey.
According to findings in our 2023 Building Products Customer Guide, all customer types are conducting a combination of in-store and online research before making a product purchase, with the vast majority of their product research occurring online, not in-store.
For most product categories, Builders, Remodelers, GCs, and Specialty Trades would conduct 1 in-store research visit and 2 online searches before making a product purchase; Architects, Engineers, and Designers would conduct 3 in-store research visits and 5 or more online searches before specifying a product; and DIYers would perform 1 in-store research visit and 2-5 online searches before purchasing a home improvement product.
For more detailed scatterplot charts that show count of online and in-store research touches by specific product category, request access to the latest Building Products Customer Guide below:
Remember to follow-through and provide helpful digital content related to product installation and maintenance as well. This follow-through effort will further strengthen customers’ positive association with your brand because you’ve continued to provide help after the transaction was already complete. Being a resource in this way will keep your brand top of mind when they are doing improvement projects or repairs in the future.
4. Establish Strategic Partnerships
Strong partnerships are essential to getting your building products into the hands of customers. As you’re developing products, creating marketing strategies, and building extra marketing collateral, keep your partners and their goals in mind. Make it a habit to bring them new products to sample and to keep their inventory fresh. Spend time fostering relationships and ensuring their teams feel equipped to communicate about and promote your brand and your product lines. Develop promotions that are consistent with your partners’ goals, as well as your own. You can also strategically collaborate to cross-sell with partner brands and reach new prospective customers.
A great example of this is the collaboration between manufacturers and retailers to meet today’s customer demands. Manufacturers have expertise in product information, materials, and content. Retailers excel at logistics, reviews, and pricing information. Leverage the strengths of your organization and your partners’.
5. Problem-Solving with Distributors
Along the same line, growing the business of big box stores and other distributors will have a positive impact on your own growth.
Work to differentiate yourself from other suppliers by keeping their interests in mind and helping to solve the problems they’re facing. Listen to their concerns. Be a solution where you can, not one of their problems.
Provide them with data you’ve collected about industry trends, insights into customer behaviors, and market sizing statistics. The more you can foster an amicable, symbiotic relationship, the better it will be for both of you.
The lingering problem of retail theft is one you can work with big box stores to help mitigate, as well, so that you both reduce inventory losses and maintain healthier profit margins and retain brand equity.
6. Improve the Customer Experience in the Store Where You Can
Distributors can drive retail sales by working to improve the in-store customer experience, and manufacturers don’t have to relegate themselves to the backseat in that regard either.
While your distributors and big-box retailers should be hiring and cultivating a workforce that is knowledgeable and values providing positive customer experiences, manufacturer’s channel teams can provide sales enablement playbooks and resources to retail associates to improve their ability to recommend your product to a customer in need.
More than 1 in 3 millennial buyers are driven in-store to seek the advice of retail associates about product and project recommendations. More than a quarter of Gen X and Baby Boomers are looking for advice when they are researching in-store, based on findings in the 2023 Building Products Customer Guide.
Beyond working to provide resources and invest in programs that educate retail associates about project uses and ideal scenarios for your products, keep your in-store visuals relevant and up to date. Ensure your message resonates with customers as their needs change due to the season or alongside shifts in current remodeling trends.
Remember that all customer types are conducting online research alongside in-store research according to the latest findings in the 2023 Building Products Customer Guide. Consider leveraging QR codes on your product packaging to engage with customers online while they are in-store.
7. Use Product Returns Effectively
Product returns are typically viewed as an unappealing part of retail business. However, you can be strategic and use them to your advantage through your channel marketing programs that keep retail partners’ employees informed about best uses for your products.
Product returns get customers back in-store—which is where you want them, especially if it was not your brand they purchased. If retail associates are cordial, helpful, and able to recommend a replacement brand (like yours), it gives customers a renewed buying experience that can contribute to brand loyalty.
Increasing Retail Sales for Your Building Materials Brand
If you’re trying to figure out how to drive retail sales all while home improvement budgets are shrinking, it’s important to know that there’s no single solution or strategy. Both suppliers and distributors are part of the equation to supply entry-level product options, educate customers, and drive project demand.
Success in your retail sales figures starts with having the right data about your customers’ purchase motivations and brand perceptions. Our custom marketing research team here at The Farnsworth Group will get you the answers your product, marketing, channel, and sales teams need to increase your market share in years ahead.