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Do it Best Launches Data-Focused Tools, Welcomes United Retailers to Spring Market

Downtown Houston hosted attendees of the 2024 Do it Best Spring Market at the George R. Brown Convention Center this weekend, where returning member-owners and prospective members explored new programs, assortments and products. 

Leveraging data was the central theme of the Market Kickoff on Saturday, with several members of the Do it Best leadership team taking the stage to introduce new tools Do it Best members can use to drive traffic and improve product assortments. 

One year ago at the spring market in 2023, Do it Best announced its brand new e-commerce platform and microsites, which allow Do it Best members to customize their online presence for their individual businesses. The platform officially launched at the fall market last year, and 1,900 members are now participating in the e-commerce platform. 

“The participation in this platform is ahead of our expectations,” says Do it Best executive vice president of sales and marketing Nick Talarico. “Our strategy has been to remove all barriers of entry for our members when it comes to e-commerce. Do it Best is taking on the vast majority of all the work associated with the website, from signing up to making sure the point of sale is compliant to making sure inventory is accurate.”

Talarico says the members who have implemented the new e-commerce platform who were on the co-op’s previous platform have seen a 40% to 60% sales lift. 

More broadly than e-commerce, Talarico says the company’s focus is on taking data from multiple sources, analyzing it, making it easy for retailers to understand and implement action. 

“Do it Best has specialized in distribution since 1945. We’re going to continue to do that with excellence,” he says. “But technology is where we’re going. Do it Best is evolving into a technology company that happens to specialize in the distribution of hardlines and building materials.”

At the market kickoff, vice president of e-commerce and marketing Allison Flatjord introduced new features to the e-commerce platform, including adding a rental module and instant rebates, which were added based on common customer searches and retailer requests. 

Flatjord says having access to the data from the loyalty program is just the first part of the process.

“Retailers have access to all of this data, but it’s how they use it that adds value. And that’s where Do it Best comes in,” she says. “Our focus, both in marketing and e-commerce, is to partner with member-owners on ways to strategically use data and to drive a greater return on their investments.”

Inventory management is a key component for a successful e-commerce platform, and to assist retailers with ensuring accurate inventory, Do it Best introduced Tracula. 

The program integrates with Eagle ERP and Compass to analyze what items are selling the most, when they’ve last been counted and several other factors.

“By leveraging advanced analytics, Tracula makes maintaining and counting inventory much

more manageable,” Flatjord says. “It tells retailers what to count each week based on a data algorithm and settings that they control. This helps teams know where to focus inventory management efforts and ensures they are counting the right products.”

Retailers are excited about the opportunities Tracula offers. 

“I think it’s a great solution to be able to keep track of high-volume items and keep our inventory updated,” says Washington Lumber contractor sales manager Ryan Vedder. “We’re also very excited about putting our inventory online so people can see what we’ve got in store.”

In addition to managing inventory, tracking the productivity of inventory is a critical component of ensuring assortments are driving margin for retailers. Vice president of merchandising Jason Stofleth introduced the Inventory Productivity Analysis (IPA) tool, which uses data to develop a heat map for retailers to assess the performance of planograms and departments. 

“The system identifies slow-moving inventory so retailers can turn it into an opportunity to refresh their assortments and ensure every product on their shelf has a purpose,” Stofleth says. “It uses data gathered over time to analyze results and red-light areas that need to be assessed.”

For now, the IPA tool is only available to Do it Best retailers who have recently completed a Retail Performance project, which includes resets, additions, conversions and ground up builds.

“To make this tool really valuable and meaningful, we need to have the store layout, the merchandising plan and the data,” Talarico says. “We wanted to start this with stores that had just been through a project, and in the future, we will be able to use the IPA tool with all members.” 

Talarico says there are currently a record 250 Retail Performance projects in the pipeline. 

Growth-Focused

Those projects aren’t the only examples of growth from the co-op. A week prior to the market, Do it Best and United Hardware announced their intent to merge. 

The merger has been approved by the boards of both organizations, and United shareholders will vote for final approval on April 5. If approved, the closing of the deal will take place later in April. 

As a result of the merger, Talarico says Do it Best will be welcoming 700 additional member locations, which represents a 20% increase. He says member growth has been on a strong trajectory for the last several years, and Do it Best has invested $30 million to date this fiscal year in member growth. 

“We’re continuing to see record prospects, and we have hundreds of current members who are each adding a location,” he says. “We’ve had a record high number of membership applications over the last few years.”

Market Floor Traffic Drivers

On the floor, new products were a draw for attendees, who explored 75 new vendors throughout the market floor and in the Launch Zone, which featured twice the number of vendors in that area as have been at previous markets. The New Item Gallery featured 1,000 newly added items where attendees could interact with products before making a purchase.  

Vedder with Washington Lumber typically only attends the fall market, so he was excited for the opportunity to come in the spring. He was planning to explore new products and see what opportunities were available for pro-focused operations.

“The market this year feels bigger than others in the past, and the changes they have made to the Sneak Peek are a big pressure relief,” he says.

The Sneak Peek event was the largest Do it Best has ever had, with 33% more vendors participating, offering discounts up to 50% off and 2% six month dating on all items. 

Christian Herrick, CEO and co-owner of Randy’s Hardware in Virginia, attended the market with two other team members. He says they come to the market to connect with existing vendors on deals, explore new products and to make new connections with other members. 

“The Launch Zone at this market is awesome. There is so much happening in that space,” he says. “We also come to the markets to network with other retailers, and I’ve met some United Hardware members who are excited about the merger.”

One key new addition to the market and to the Do it Best warehouse are products from Paslode. The partnership is part of the co-op’s commitment to helping member-owners continue to serve contractor customers, which was also evident in the Pro Zone inside the market floor store setup, Solutions in Action.

“Pro Zone is a new addition to the Solutions in Action space on the market floor,” says Do it Best director of communications Allison Meyer. “We’ve created pro-focused assortments for member-owners of home centers and lumberyards to create more convenience for their contractor customer base.”

On Sunday night, retailers and exhibitors were invited to attend a VIP event featuring a moderated conversation with former President George W. Bush on leadership. At the same event, Do it Best president and CEO addressed the United merger and the value it brings to members. 

Meyer says planning for the fall market has already started and the goal is to continue building on the excitement and celebration of growth that has happened in Houston. The 2024 Do it Best Fall Market will return to Indianapolis Sept. 6-9.

About Melanie Moul

Melanie is the communications and content manager for the North American Hardware and Paint Association. She joined the NHPA team in 2016 as an editor for Hardware Retailing and now helps lead the communications team to deliver relevant, timely content to the industry.

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