Ten months after the launch of True Value’s new-and-improved e-commerce program, the statistics are beginning to pile up. Most importantly, perhaps, almost 2,000 stores have signed up for the program, allowing customers to shop online and pick up purchases in their local hardware store.
There are some things still unknown in the e-commerce world, such as the correlation between Web browsing and in-store buying. But True Value believes it’s getting closer to an understanding. And it likes what the data are showing.
“Through our online surveys, we’re consistently seeing about 40% of our customers report that their next action after they leave the site is to either visit a True Value store or call a True Value store,” said Lisa Fortuna, True Value director of e-commerce.
The average ring for an online order consistently runs in the $60 to $70 range — about three times the average ring in the store.
For dealers, the only requirement to join the program is an agreement to receive some basic order-fulfillment and customer service instruction. There is no cost to join. “Feedback from those retailers has been very positive,” Fortuna said. And for the co-op, the ability to learn from the habits of online browsers is invaluable. “Consumers are using the site to research products, and we see how it’s driving footsteps into our stores,” she added.
While the site continues to churn data and drive traffic, the actual e-commerce sales transactions have been behind plan, according to the co-op. That’s partly because of an aggressive forecast, and partly because a higher-than-expected percentage of consumers are going to the stores to make their purchase.
“For the sales we’re transacting as e-commerce, we’re not happy with the overall sales compared with our forecast,” said CEO Lyle Heidemann. “But we’re not unhappy with where we’re at. And we know we are driving footsteps to the store.”
In addition to traffic, visibility is huge. The ability for the co-op to monitor the all-important product search field leads to actionable intelligence. Analyzing the search terms helps the co-op stay ahead of consumer demand or spot trends.
One early discovery has been how quickly customers change their product searches when the seaso