How One Tool Transformed Hardware Hank’s Business in Under a Year
In the small town of Warren, Minnesota, lies Tim Finseth’s traditional hardware store, Hardware Hank. After having served the local community for over 50 years, the store was faced with competition from a well-known hardware chain, so Tim was looking for ways to remain competitive. He discovered a way that helped Hardware Hank introduce an entire new product category and has completely transformed their business. A year later, the store has not looked back.
A small-town store with big ambitions
Hardware Hank is a family-run hardware business, with a showroom only about 8,000 square feet big. With warm, friendly service and a great range of right-priced products, they have been a firm favorite with the people of Warren for over 50 years. However, times have changed and with competition strengthening, the store had to adapt. Some ten years ago, Tim added an electronics and appliances department; and just one year ago, the Finseths decided to add a new product category not traditionally found in hardware stores, but which they saw a need for in the community. They now sell products across a wide range of categories: hand & power tools, cleaning supplies, hardware, grills & accessories, office supplies, houseware, pet supplies, plumbing, electrical & lighting, appliances and more.
Problem 1: how could they set themselves apart from the competition
Hardware Hank was looking for ways to set themselves apart from the hardware chain store across the street and one way to do that was by offering a greater selection of products. Some years ago, the Finseths had added electronics and appliances to expand their product selection, and it helped them sell more. More recently, they spotted a gap in the market: the nearest furniture stores were thirty miles to the east and west of Warren. Why not offer a selection of home goods to provide the local community with a convenient way to shop? And, at the same time, how could they drive up sales and increase revenue without taking valuable floor space away from key product categories?
Problem 2: without being able to test new categories, how do you decide which product gets floor space?
Hardware Hank only has limited space, with room for less than twenty furniture items, most of which are smaller accessories. For comparison: Most furniture stores comparable in size display around 200 pieces in their showroom. While attending a furniture trade show, Tim saw a digital in-store kiosk concept that he was immediately drawn to. The large-format touch screen kiosk displayed thousands of furniture items, allowing him to browse the entire product line-up. “This is exactly what we need in our store,” Tim said. He knew right away that this tool was the answer to all his questions.
The kiosk made sense; it enabled the Finseths to only display a small range of furniture on the sales floor and in the window while having thousands of furniture items to choose from via the in-store kiosk. Without the kiosk, stocking all the inventory that comes with selling furniture just would not have been possible. Plus, it is convenient for a non-traditional furniture store: the catalogs are always up-to-date and thanks to inventory displayed in real-time, Tim’s guests can see what items are available.
Problem 3: would guests be comfortable making major purchases on a touch-screen kiosk?
Tim Finseth, the proprietor of Hardware Hank, describes himself as an ‘old-fashioned guy.’ He prefers to make purchases in-store because he likes to be able to physically see and touch the products. “I wondered how my guests would feel about purchasing something as big as furniture without being able to examine it in person”, Tim said. And he has been pleasantly surprised. Since shoppers are able to zoom in on large images, read up on product details, and can even text themselves dimensions and other information, they feel knowledgeable and empowered – eliminating any hesitation to buy from a touchscreen. Tim keeps a few upholstery items on the floor, so guests in the store get a feel for the overall quality of the furniture. “This is so much better than traditional paper catalog shopping and it really improved guests’ experience in our store”, Tim says smiling. These days, people are more than used to browsing and shopping from a touchscreen device, and his guests have not hesitated when it comes to using the kiosk.
“It paid for itself in the first 3 months and has been generating sales ever since!”
The team at Hardware Hank has been delighted with their experience using Catalog Kiosk. Guests simply love it. They can browse with no pressure, and it could not be easier to use. In fact, guests of the store love to play with the kiosk; it’s become a reason to pop in! Every guest who comes through the door and asks about furniture is led to the kiosk and can shop at their leisure. They can shop thousands of furniture items in dozens of categories, and sales have skyrocketed.
Catalog Kiosk paid for itself in the first three months and it has been generating sales ever since. “Our furniture department, in one year went from nonexistent to being the number 1 dollar department”, says Tim Finseth. And all this without taking floor space away from his core categories. ‘Without the kiosk, we wouldn’t have been able to add furniture to the store and make all these sales.’ Tim Finseth sums it up. Business is stronger than ever for Hardware Hank.
Learn more about endless aisle kiosks for hardware stores: