Innovation being necessary, if not mandatory, is a fact.
Knowing how to do it, a gift.
Learning to manage innovation, a challenge.
In short, the renovation or updating of decorative fittings is necessary but, the fact that it has to be done every year is still, for some professionals, a sticking point.
It is necessary to look for confidence, to clear doubts and to reach conclusions and, finally, to practise innovation management.
When, how much and how to innovate? These are the three key issues for opening the curtain and planning the next season’s performance.
Act one: The curtain opens and we find a young sales manager who decides that it is necessary to renew product models every year and explains that this is the way to keep the customer interested, to keep them coming into the shop even when they don’t need anything because, at the end of the day, there is always something new, a different offer, a shelf stocked a surprising way.
There’s no fault in the reasoning, but the difference between theory and practice is clear. Let’s see how that same character explains the flip side of this annual innovation that, at least in theory, seems as promising as it is seductive.
The number of models, the variety of applications and the possibilities offered by annual updates, are a magnificent lure for enthusiasts, who with the expectation of finding the latest of the season’s products, regularly visit DIY stores; for DIY fans and even for those who have never been interested in the world of hardware.
The display of properly organised, placed and strategically located materials, is comparable to the mixture of pleasure and curiosity that is evoked by going into a haberdashery and seeing all the buttons ordered by colour, type and size or in an art shop, after browsing and ending up surrendering to the hypnotic power of the coloured boxes, markers or pastels.
However, these examples will probably not fully match the reality of what is on display in a DIY store. In this case the situation is much more interesting because the new products are taking their place and showing the multiple combinations they offer with pre-existing elements from the store or with other things we have at home or even with other things that we have just thought of as ideas for innovation; because there is interactivity between the salespeople who talk about trends; about combinations; about surprising furniture renovations even when it comes to just replacing some handles; about colours, materials and textures different from those offered last year because the new sample book is vivid and vibrant.
The curtain closes, the audience applauds and feel as though they can relate.
Indeed, visiting a DIY centre on a regular basis, even if it is without a specific objective, is a pleasure for many who want to keep up to date and learn about new products, the new fitting collection will also be assembled in such a way as to inspire ideas and projects in the minds of visitors.
Provisional score: Annual update 1 – No annual update 0
Act two: The curtain rises again and on stage, a veteran sales manager comments on the previous scene by reading some notes about the undisputed victory of the choice to update over the choice not to update. He is in favour of innovation, of course, but he asks the attendees to focus their attention on two basic and determining factors so that the update makes sense: the time it takes to fulfil the update and market it in store and the advertising effort required for knowledge about the update to reach the customer. If both are achieved, the annual update of decorative fittings will be a success.
And the character argues.
From the stage he looks at the audience, which is mainly made up of hardware professionals, and asks the question: How can new products reach all points of sale every season and have the sufficient display and demand time if, on occasion, they take up to four months to be distributed to all points of sale?
The words of the veteran sales manager resonate in the theatrical space and the curtain falls on the second act.
Provisional score: Annual update 1 – No annual update 1
The audience shuffles to their seats and, amidst whispers, the following phrase is repeated: So is it good to update decorative hardware collections every year or not?
Third and final act: The curtain opens again and treading the boards are the young sales manager from the first act and the veteran from the second, it seems that they are talking to each other and agreeing on their conclusions.
It’s the young sales manager who’s addressing the audience: It is not the innovation that is in question, because the update is the main attraction, the heartbeat that attracts customers to our DIY stores, it is the management that sets a beneficial update apart from an update that can extinguish the flame of the brightest of companies. We need to find a balance between the advantages and disadvantages during the update periods.
Studies show us that updating is necessary but, when it comes to updating, we can either be overcome by enthusiasm and go beyond the limits of the upgrade or we can be cautious and fall behind with conservative updates that do not meet customer expectations.
In both cases the result will be the same: loss of customers. But how do we find the happy medium? When, how much and how do we need to update to stabilise the balance, keep our loyal customers satisfied and continue to gain potential customers?
The logistical capacity of the company will be responsible for how much and when because, although studies recommend an annual product renewal of 15% to be competitive, it is no less true that relying too heavily on a product renewal that, in the end will be on the shelves less than a year, will not bring the desirable results. Logistics and distribution are crucial.
As for the how, it is clear that the way to get an update to customers is through poster campaigns; the distribution of space in the store and the organisation, design and presentation of the shelves, a job as costly as it is necessary, which customers will appreciate as it gives them the feeling of being on the crest of the wave of the latest updates, at the forefront, making the latest trends in decorative fittings their own.
Final score: Annual Update 2 – No Annual Update 1
The curtain closes.