well as getting constant customer feedback and finding out what they do and don’t like.

Convenience is key

Another important aspect of change in the market, is the way customers shop. It is now far more common to shop online, which means the product information and graphics must have as much of an impact as a face-to-face retail experience. Ian says: “The way people purchase has changed dramatically in recent years.


meet these changes

we’ve introduced a mobile friendly website and ‘click & collect’ in our retail stores. Our retail staff are well trained and can guide customers through the myriad product choices. Our business services team meet customers on their premises where they can talk through the customer’s wants

or needs. We

provide an installation service and can offer flexible payment options. In short, we provide solutions as well as sell product.” At Toolstation, it’s a similar story: “Our customers are always looking for the most convenient way to shop with us. They want to buy quickly and easily so they can go back to the job that they are working on. The cliché ‘time is money’ is definitely true for them. The development of our click & collect service helps them to get in and out of our branches as quickly as possible. Having a branch close by is also important to cut down on travel time, we have over 300 open now and continue to open them with the aim of one being near to customers no matter where they are.”

Products with power Considering growth areas in the market, Matt he has seen continuing improvements in battery technology. “This allows for a wider range of cordless products available in the market, which were traditionally corded only,” he explains. “There are higher voltage batteries on the market, and the ability to ‘bank’ batteries together to power high power demanding products like lawnmowers, Mitre Saws etc. Mark has observed the same trend.

“Products are becoming lighter and easier to use, with improved balance and ergonomics. This is achieved with the increased performance of smaller batteries, combined with brushless technology.” Tradesmen

are also leaning

towards more multi-use tools, that incorporate a number of different functions in one, Mark says: “Multi- use products are becoming more

“Trade customers have high expectations of the tools that they use, realising that time is money and that work needs to be done right first time to a much higher standard than ever before”

Ian Styles, Axminster Tools

commonplace. We have seen big growth in the multi-cutter in recent years, which is becoming a tradesman’s favourite.” Ian believes the product catalogue is still a prominent part of the tool trade, as data protection practices like GDPR has impacted the business. He says: “Product catalogues have always played an important part in our business. Our decision to step away from conventional printed matter has worked well for us but, with the growth of our own brands and serious reduction of non-core products, print has become a viable proposition once again.

“GDPR has impacted on e-business, resulting in a complete re-think of how we work and interact with our customers, so it’s no surprise that, with a more succinct and more relevant product line, we are returning to print once again to indulge the exceptionally narrow niche of our customers’ interest. Well-written, highly-relevant copy, with high-quality photography lends itself perfectly to promote quality innovative products. “Of course, such brochures don’t come cheap – both in distribution and production – but, with the market readjusting, it’s time now to focus on the active relevant customer.” Toolstation takes a more omni- channel approach:

Tools of the trade Ian says: “Trade customers have high expectations of the tools that they use, realising that time is money and that work needs to be done right first time to a much higher standard than ever before. In the recession of 2007, we saw a disappearance of low-cost tools and the focus shifted to the purchase of tools made for serious work. Our own ‘Trade’ brand focused on that specific customer and we encouraged these customers to focus on quality and longevity. The results were outstanding and our Trade brand has continued to grow significantly. “A review of our Trade brand sees new innovative lines added at the upper end of cost. At the same time, the serious DIYer has also received a new-look range; elevating the quality in a new brand, called Craft. The Craft brand is aimed at the person who, whilst not earning a living with their tools, has higher expectations of their tools beyond what is now being sold by food retailers.” Toolstation’s Matt says trade customers tend to have preferred brands and that quality is important: “Trade customers need tools that fit their day-to-day requirements. They want a tool that is of high spec and performance and will pay to invest in such a tool.

“The trade tend to have favourite brands that they have used for many years but are also keen to use tools with technological advancements, such as brushless motor tools, with better performance and more efficient functionality, for example. We have started to see the switch and have increased our range to match demand. “Our DIY customers are generally of a good level of knowledge and

ability and like to have access to tools that the trade use, or a good offer so willing to buy a decent tool if it’s a good price”, he continues. “Similarly we have some great quality entry-level tools, such as the exclusive Bauker range, which have a good level of spec but at a great value price. “

When it comes to customer service, Ian stresses that product knowledge is “absolutely essential” at Axminster. He says: “In order to achieve the high levels of training and product knowledge required to help our customers, we have a dedicated training department. Our Skill Centre is the hub of training where staff can get hands-on with products and actually make projects. Regular training sessions take place in the Skill Centre covering both new products and refresher training for existing products.

“In addition, all of our stores have a Live Workshop area where they put on demonstrations of workshop machines and hand tools, so customers can also get hands-on and try before they buy. As a result customers are buying with confidence from staff who know their stuff. “ Matt says Toolstation staff are given regular updates about products to make sure they are always up to date with the newest piece of information. “We want our employees to know the catalogue and the ranges within it. “This way they can help customers pick the right product for their needs, or alternatives if the customer hasn’t made their mind up. During catalogue launches, we identify new products and changes. They then get to know the products and brands we sell and can navigate round the catalogue at point of sale, so customers have a great in-branch experience. “


will browse the printed catalogue, place an order online and go in to a branch to collect their order. We aim to make the customer journey as frictionless as possible, so it’s all about providing them with the channels they need; whether that’s print or online. Online continues to grow and remains a key focus for the business but most of our sales come through our branches. Customers select what they want from their catalogue and come in and place their order.

It makes their time in branch a much quicker experience.” 01 JUNE 2018 DIY WEEK 25

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36