Preparing for the National Hardware Show

It’s almost time for the 2019 National Hardware Show — the biggest home improvement conference of the year — and sales and marketing teams are eagerly gearing up for the opportunity to impress buyers and showcase their innovative new products. This year the National Hardware Show is touting itself as The Tool That Powers Your Business; yet we know that this is only true for those brands that put in the hard work to prepare properly for this busy three-day event.
Shows are an expensive exercise, but ultimately they are a highly effective tool to benefit your retail business. To make sure you maximize your return on investment it is crucial to leave a lasting impression on your major retail partners at the show.

From our experience, there are better ways of engaging with your buyer during trade shows. The aim of every engagement should be to position yourself as an expert that your retailer can come to for advice. This means when your buyer gets back to their office and goes through their plans for the year, you stick out because you’re providing them with solutions — not just another product to fill space on the shelf.

Leveraging our expertise from previous tradeshows and ongoing partnerships with well-respected home improvement brands across every major category, we’ve put together a simple framework below to make sure your buyer conversations are powerful, solution-oriented and memorable:

What happened last year?

  • Provide a list of compelling graphics and relevant data of your top selling products last year within their stores. Graphically illustrate the growth versus the previous year. After all, everyone knows that buyers respond well to data visualizations versus numbers scattered on a sheet.
  • Show them the top performing states. Which state increased the most in sales dollars? What is driving this success? Find out if strong growth in that region or state is normal for your category and perhaps you’ll realize that you are breaking new ground for them.
  • Show them the top performing stores. Compare online versus brick and mortar sales. Our advice: if you aren’t talking about your online strategy at this year’s show, you’ll be labelled as the old dog that can’t learn new tricks. That’s never a good look.
  • Show them where there are persistent overstocks and be open about poor performing items. Demonstrate that you are aware of these issues, and willing to help address them.


Why did that happen?

  • Do some analysis on why certain products sold or didn’t sell. Was there an earlier summer, or a mild winter? Was there an out of stock issue on their end? Show them how you are tracking these issues and how you’ll prevent them in the future if given the autonomy to actively manage your inventory.
  • Was there a color or style that sold well and another that didn’t?
  • What can that tell you about next year’s strategy? Use this to tell a story about your product and where it fits into the story of their store.


What are we going to do in the future?

  • How is my new product differentiating from an existing product at the competing retailer? Are you willing to go exclusive to seal the deal? Consider that the major home improvement retailers are fiercely competitive with one another and that anything you can do to give them a leg up on the competition is a winning strategy.
  • Offer a solution and make the solution constructive. For example, “If I help you with mark-downs on this product, can you use that free capital to implement our new product line, which we believe will add incremental sales to your business?” This way you introduce a new product and present a solution to a business issue at the same time.

Trade shows are the best time to network and introduce new products, but it has to be done strategically. It’s all about perfecting the balance of showcasing how your products are innovative and differentiated, while highlighting that you have the smarts to truly deliver for your retailers. Presenting a strong business case for your current line of product and demonstrating how new products fit into a larger vision will place you ahead of the competition.

If you are looking to master some of the suggestions mentioned in this article, keep an eye out for the Krunchbox team at this year’s show. With several years of experience helping brands gain a strong understanding of the numbers behind their products, you can see first-hand why Krunchbox is the preferred POS reporting tool for suppliers (and buyers) in the hardware and home improvement industry. Better yet, get a head-start by seeing our platform in action here.