For a retailer organization to be successful, it must ensure that different combinations of goods and services are available to the customers at the right place and at the right time so that customers can access them whenever they need them. Marketing allows a retailer to manage the exchange of goods and services between industry and the customers. A retailer who does marketing in the right manner acquires a competitive advantage over other competitors.
In most cases, retailers have direct contact with customers allowing the retailer to market for products and services. The most successful retailers are those that understand their customers, their market, and the strategic location for the business (Heathfield 2009, para.11). These allow the retailer to provide products and services that meet the needs of the customers and in turn bring revenue.
Different organizations use different strategies to find new customers and retain the old ones. The hardware market in Australia has been growing at a high rate and for a retail firm to be successful; it has to have some performance improvement strategies. This paper will seek to analyze the Australian hardware market and performance improvement strategies that firms use to remain competitive.
Analysis of Hardware Situation in Australia
As stated before, the hardware market in Australia has grown considerably in the past few years (Economic Mission of Israeli in Australia 2005, para.1). It has now included home improvement, home leisure, and building products. The hardware market alone generates sales of about nineteen million dollars per year. The per capita hardware consumption in Australia is amongst the highest in the world. The hardware market is divided into several sections. Some other participants in the market include co-operative and buying groups. Examples of these include Mitre 10, Home Timber and hardware, True Value, and Thrifty-Link Hardware.
Some other firms have specialized with commodities in specific lines. Examples of these include Delux Trade Centers and Barbeques Galore. There are also some variety and discount stores such as Big W and Kmart. Most of these firms are represented in many parts of Australia but activities of some of them are concentrated in some parts than others (Euromonitor International 2010, para.5). These are the regions where they feel that they will collect more revenue than other places.
Recently, firms have adopted warehouse outlets to help in the distribution of products (Economic Mission of Israeli in Australia 2005, para.4). In Australia, there are several retail hardware firms that warehouses in the form of multi-tenant parks. In addition, others operate on stand-alone stands. They rent retail parks because they offer bulky products that need a lot of space for storage. Since the introduction of the construction of retail warehouses, many firms have been actively involved in the process. Competition between these firms is very stiff and only those that come up with strategies to satisfy the customers enjoy large amounts of revenues.
Retail marketing involves several processes that provide products and services that fulfill the needs of the customers. It involves processes such as selling, promoting, understanding the market and the customers, deciding the best geographical locations to invest in, and others. Retail marketing avails products and services to customers at the right place and at the right time. As a strategy for marketing, retailers come up with retail brands.
These are some very important intangible assets that increase the competitive advantage of a firm. Retail branding gives customers a perception that the goods are of the highest quality making them loyalty to a given firm (Ailawadi and Keller 2004, para.5).
Packaging by a retailer helps make the product appear more valuable. Many consumers would go for products that look valuable and go for high prices because they feel the products will stay longer. Retailers provide many categories of needs that meet the needs of different customers. The stores are designed in a way that the consumers can view different commodities in the stores (Burt 2007, para.8). This allows them to go for the ones they feel they have the capacity to buy and will fulfill their needs.
The commodities that hardware retailers offer in Australia are obtained from different manufacturers and wholesalers. Retailers go for products from companies that offer durable quality products. When consumers purchase products that are not faulty and meet their needs from affirming, they are likely to remain loyal to such a retailer (Sullivan and Adcock 2002, p.6). A retailer would rather sell a durable commodity at a higher price than sell a faulty one at a lower price. The hardware products sold by retailers are obtained from different manufacturers from different countries. Retail firms locate their operations in different towns for various reasons.
Many retailers in Australia have operations in major towns such as Queensland, New South Wales, and others. This is because of the high population and potential of consumers to purchase products. Others operate in some remote towns because there is little competition in such areas. This gives them dominance in such locations. To ensure that customers remain loyal, the employees in the hardware firms are expected to give the best services to the consumers.
Previous academic studies reveal that retailers have previously been involved in similar activities to attract more customers and have more sales. The activities aimed to provide consumers with products that meet their needs. Different retail stores have previously used activities such as branding to create a positive perception in the mind of the consumer. Studies that led to the literature were conducted by observation and use of questionnaires.
The researchers could move into retail stores and observe store design, the way that customers were attended to, packaging, and many others. Questionnaires were used to determine the locations and the reasons for opening operations in different parts. The studies were conducted in hardware retail shops both superstores and smaller stores in the United States and Canada. This can be generalized to include Australia.
Mitre 10 is the largest independent retailer offering hardware in Australia (Mitre 10 Homepage 2010, para.1). It has over seven hundred stores in Australia. It specifically deals with hardware and home improvement products. Some of the services that the organization offers are advice required for the do-it-yourself projects and support required for the project to run smoothly. The organization is divided into different store types each offering a different market proposition.
The store types are divided according to size, geographic location, and customer demographic. Some of its competitors are Bunnings and Home Timber and hardware. The organization mostly deals with markets in Australia and New Zealand, especially in major towns.
To retain its performance, Mitre 10 has some performance improvement strategies. Its hardware stores are conveniently located so that customers can easily access them. These stores are stocked with products required for maintenance, repair, and other requirements needed for the proper functioning of urban homes (Mitre 10 Homepage 2010, para.5). In a bid to cultivate a niche within the hardware market in the face of stiff competition, several hardware retailers in Australia have sought to provide free advice to their clients on how best to operate the products bought. This is useful in improving the products provided to customers.
It also has comprehensive products and services that help it interact with its customers and help them succeed. Warehouses are distributed all over major towns in countries in Australia. These ensure that the products are available to the customers whenever they are needed. The customers are always sure that there is nothing they can lack in the stores. Offering different varieties of similar products allows customers with different potential to buy what they can afford (Hoyle 2006, para.6).
Advertising and promotions enhance the name of the products offered. The promotion encourages customers to purchase more products because the higher the purchase, the higher the discount allowed. Its numerous existences in many parts enable it to earn more revenue that can be used for competition purposes. The members of staff acquired to have the necessary skills to perform the duties assigned. Training and orientation gave to the employees ensure that they are armed with the necessary skills.
Big W is a discount department store in Australia and has over one hundred and fifty stores in the place. It offers general merchandise and groceries. The major competitors to Big W are Target and Kmart. All the stores owned by Big W are located in Australia again in major towns such as Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and others. It offers its products at low prices to attract more customers (Big W homepage 2008, para.3).
The products offered at low prices are the same products from the same manufacturers offered by the competitors. This gives it a competitive advantage over the competitors. The everyday low prices have assisted it to acquire good profits. It advertises its products quoting the price so that customers are aware of the organization that offers products at low prices. The organization sells many products in a day and therefore still earns a good profit. The organization has promotion strategies also aimed at attracting customers. The organization has been able to expand its operations to many parts as a result of the services that it offers to customers.
To determine the lowest price at which it can offer its products, the management in the organization determines all the expenses involved in offering the product such as branding and packaging. It then sets a price that will help it earn profit as it offers products at a low price (Ramsey 2001, para.4). Big G offers products from the best manufacturers and therefore ensures that customers are satisfied by what they get. It researches to determine the attributes of the customers that affect it. The products offered are made more attractive by packaging. They are also branded to ensure that they create a perception that attracts the customers.
The performance improvement strategies that the two organizations have implemented have helped them improve their performance but there is still room for improvement. Research can be used to determine the level of satisfaction provided to the customers by the products offered. The research will also allow the organization to determine the exact needs of the customers. They will then make recommendations to the manufacturers so that the products provided meet the needs of the customers. Involving the consumers in the production is very important. More members of staff will be needed to carry out some of these activities.
Such research will be conducted frequently so that new products that meet the needs of the customers are innovated. To increase their competitive advantage over other competitors, the organizations can use loyalty cards. Customers who are loyal to the organizations and buy in bulk can be issued loyalty cards that have some benefits. This will encourage the customers to buy in bulk because they would like to be issued loyalty cards. This will in turn bring more revenue to the organizations. Training to members of the staff should be conducted frequently so that employees are armed with changing trends.
Retail marketing is the process by which a retailer provides products and services that meet the needs of the customers. Offering different types of products to customers at the right time and in the right place creates loyalty. The hardware market in Australia has grown considerably. Many retail farms have come out to invest in the business that has a high demand. This has led to competition and the need for competitive advantage for an organization to be successful.
Mitre 10 has operations in Australia and New Zealand. Big W is a discount department store in Australia and has over one hundred and fifty stores in the place. It offers merchandise and groceries at reduced prices. The two organizations have performance improvement strategies that have given them a competitive advantage over their competitors.
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