Winter weather and hardware stores: making storms your friends

Poor winter weather may delay deliveries and reduce footfall, but stores can still benefit from stormy weather.

15th December 2014

Every season brings different challenges for hardware stores and builders’ merchants. If you’ve been using retail and point-of-sale software, you’ll have plenty of graphs and figures to hand that display those seasonal variations. However, winter is where most stores face their biggest challenge. In the UK, our winters are unpredictable. We could experience a solid month of sub-zero temperatures or only have to deal with a handful of frosts throughout the entire season. The sheer variation in what to expect makes it challenging for businesses to plan for winter. For hardware stores and builders’ merchants, where a significant proportion of trade is weather-dependent, these challenges are particularly significant. Nonetheless, businesses can take steps to transform the tricky winter period into a highly lucrative season.

Snow and ice
Spells of snow and ice can lead to huge opportunities for hardware stores. Few large businesses adequately prepare for inclement winter weather, and you’ll soon find a huge demand for salt, grit, shovels and de-icer. These products will soon increase in price, so it’s certainly wise to stock up on them during the warmer months, when market prices are much lower. Of course, sod’s law dictates that the more you stock up on these products the warmer the weather will be, but the rush to buy these products is potentially hugely lucrative for your business.

Delivery problems and stock management
Stock management is particularly important in winter – not only because of unpredictable demand, but also due to delivery problems thanks to poor weather. Therefore, now might be a good time to invest in some stock control and delivery management software. At all times, you’ll have accurate stock figures to hand. You’ll be able to notice stock fluctuations, sudden demand increases and even set automatic purchase orders for when stock levels pass under certain thresholds. During periods of stormy winter weather, you may wish to raise these thresholds to give your deliveries additional time to arrive before your stock runs out.

Builders’ merchants
Winter isn’t a great season for construction projects. Floods, ice and snow certainly disrupt many building sites. If you’re a builders’ merchant and you’re worried about your cashflow during this period, focus your marketing efforts on other elements of your business – namely building maintenance and repairs during winter. Market directly to property owners – consider putting together a winter property maintenance checklist, and using social media and other forms of marketing to inform property owners. This could bring in another valuable source of revenue.

Coping with lower footfall
It’s likely that you’ll receive fewer visitors to your store during bad weather. Now might be the time to explore e-commerce options, but alternatively you may wish to increase the average spend per customer. Implement offers based on overall spend – £10 off when you spend £100, gain a 25% off vouched if you spend over £50 and so on. Don’t be tempted to slash prices across the board. If you do wish to discount some hard-to-shift items, choose your discounts carefully instead of applying them across all products.

Retail and point-of-sale software built specifically for hardware stores and builders’ merchants can see you safely through the winter and help you to take advantage of the huge opportunities that are available to your business during this time of year. Speak to us to arrange a free demo.

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