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Competing against big box

st8icst8ic subscriber Posts: 11 Bronze Level Member
edited June 2008 in Business Planning
I`m stupid and planning on butting heads with home depot. Anybody have any useful advice about competing with the mammoth retail outlets?
Where can I find good wholesale suppliers for building materials? Thanks so much!


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    TheMarketersMechanicTheMarketersMechanic subscriber Posts: 1
    Competing with big box is o.k. Butting heads is not.
    I have worked for big box retail for the past 30 years so can give you some perspective.
    One of the strengths of a retail chain is also a weakness. The fact that it is a "chain" often means that big box needs to adopt a "one size fits many" approach to things like pricing, ranging, promotion or even service.
    This leaves many flanks unprotected (and will never be protected or even noticed some times). The key strategic skill you need to develop is to identify those unprotected flanks. Sometimes they can be incredibly rich niches of business.
    You mentioned Home Depot. I have a retail hardware background (from Australia) so again I can comment with some authority. One of the hardest things to do is to tailor a product range down to a regional or sub regional area. Look at the geographic market that you operate in and try and identify something that makes it different from the norm. This could be geographic/climate, customer/demographic or even style/architecture based. You will find that the big box has incredible problems tailoring down to this level.
    The next aspect to look at is speed and reaction. Again start from your locality. Does something happen in your locality that sets it apart from the norm. Once you identify this you need to react to that event with speed. You will find that you can consistently outpace the big box in these circumstances. By the time the big box has identified the event, communicated it to regional or national office, crafted a response and executed. You have filled the void and won the skirmish.
    Personal relationships are also an area where you can win. Cultivate relationships firstly with your local media outlets, radio, TV etc. You big box competitor is unlikely to have a relationship at this level. You need to set yourself up as the "go to guy/girl" that is always willing to help a local reporter with a deadline. You bigbox competitor is likely to be constrained by a media policy that just will fit in with your local reporters work schedule. Once you have cultivated this relationship with you media contacts, feed them with free product from your suppliers to use in competitions/giveaways etc etc. A $20 drill will buy you $500 of exposure.This is a win/win for every one in the transaction.
    I could go on for pages but I will spare you at this point.
    The point is don`t go head to head or you will lose. They always have deeper pockets. Compete where they are not looking.
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