The 2020 home improvement season started early. Sheltering in place, millions of Americans with time on their hands decided to deal with that dripping faucet (at last!), repair the decking or fix the winter damage to the driveway.
Classed as essential retailers, home improvement stores continued to trade during the lockdown, once measures were place to protect associates and customers. And as early as the end of March, Lowe’s reported an increase in sales across nearly every category as people prepared to tackle projects around the home. According to realtor.com, cleaning closets and garages, gardening, and painting walls were popular tasks, while bigger projects on the wish list include more space, updated kitchens and home gyms.
Of course, not everyone wants to shop in person or is able to shop in person. Consumers were quick to head online. Home improvement majors responded by strengthening ‘click and collect’ and other delivery options for online customers. At Home Depot, which has invested heavily in its digital infrastructure, first quarter online sales were up by around 80 per cent and 60 per cent of online orders were completed by curb side pickup.
It’s likely this appetite for DIY will continue. A recent IPSOS poll found that more than four in ten Americans expect another lockdown in the fall, with many of them already planning home improvements with that in mind. What’s more, many of us will probably continue to work remotely in some way, creating a need to carve out a suitable space at home. And let’s not forget, with all the “staycations” we’ll be taking in the future, we’ll want to get our homes looking good for family and friends.
Home improvement specialists have always provided help and advice for their customers. DIY retail websites are packed with ‘how to’ videos, instructions and practical advice for experts and novices alike. Social proof messaging fits in well with this helpful, professional ethos. Like a virtual store associate, social proof messages help shoppers compare products, narrow down their choices and make the right purchase. It replicates the social interaction of the real-life store.
If you’re buying a big ticket or bulky item (circular saw? hot tub?) it’s reassuring to know that ‘52 people are looking at this right now’. If you’re a millennial investing in your first power tool, you’ll welcome some guidance: ‘good choice – 48 of these sold today’. Displaying aggregate reviews from BazaarVoice or similar – ‘95% of customers gave this product five stars’ – builds confidence in the item and the transaction. Social proof is also great for helping shoppers uncover that special something, to trigger that “exactly what I’m looking for” feeling, enabling retailers to move long tail items.
We might be living with restrictions on and off for some time to come. It’s essential that retailers continue to deliver the best possible online experience for their customers, many of whom will only recently have ventured into ecommerce.
Older consumers especially will be less keen to visit the store in person. And at a time when making returns isn’t straightforward, it’s in everyone’s interests that shoppers make the right choice. That’s why Taggstar is offering new retail clients priority onboarding. It only takes days for our Professional Services Team to develop the right messages, test their effectiveness and put them to work helping home improvers everywhere make informed buying decisions.