I really enjoy being at the forefront of watching new products go to market, and it’s particularly gratifying when my clients enjoy success with one of their products.
We have a diverse team at CROSSMARK who offer a breadth of experience across the retail and marketing industries. This month, we thought we’d introduce you to one of CROSSMARK’s newest employees, Paul Gardiner, who has been appointed to help grow our Hardware division.
Can you share some details about your experience working in the hardware sector?
I have worked in the hardware industry for 12 years; predominantly in management and business development roles, as well as merchandising. These roles were focused on client service, ensuring that product ranges were optimised instore and presented in the best way possible. I was also required to act as a conduit between hardware wholesalers and Bunnings.
When did you start working with CROSSMARK?
I joined CROSSMARK in May and was attracted to the role as it seemed like a really good fit for me. I’ve always admired CROSSMARK, not just in terms of what the company does and what they hope to achieve but also from a cultural standpoint, which was really important. The values that CROSSMARK holds and the regard that their clients hold them in just spoke volumes to me about the kind of company I wanted to join and grow with.
What’s happening in the hardware industry at the moment?
There’s currently a strong focus on e-commerce, with buyers doing their research from home to make pre-planned purchases. DIY is extremely popular at the moment, which is great for our customers and hardware retailers, but I think customers are becoming a lot smarter with the way they spend their hard-earned cash.
How do you think the change in shopper behaviour will impact the hardware sector?
As consumers become smarter and more informed, there’s a definitive shift towards pre-planned purchases. By the time a customer walks into a store, they already know how a product stacks up against its competitors. I also think accessibility of information including information on platforms such as YouTube has become really important. People are gaining more confidence do a lot of DIY projects just by watching videos online.
Are there any other trends within hardware that we should be watching out for?
The connected home sector is definitely an emerging category, for example any product that can be controlled by an app or that allows you to control your home remotely. For instance, products such as automated lighting and smart appliances with Internet of Things (IoT) capability are definitely growth markets.
How do you think field marketing can help the hardware sector?
There is huge potential for field marketing to evolve within the hardware sector over the next few years. Field staff will move away from just being reps that order new stock each week to offering a much more holistic and strategic service. They will be ensuring that their clients’ inventory accuracy is on point and that their products are being presented in a way that helps them to maximise sales. I also believe that field marketing will become an advocacy tool to instil confidence in team members that are selling the products, utilising platforms such as the CROSSMARK shopper experience and aisle angel programs in the hardware sector.
What are the biggest challenges facing the hardware sector at the moment?
Competing products online will continue to be one of the biggest challenges facing the hardware sector. Having said that, I do think the majority of Australian shoppers still want that Saturday morning experience of going to Bunnings with the family, getting the kids’ faces painted and buying a sausage. Personally, I really enjoy the experience of going into the store to get a better understanding of how products look and feel.
What do you enjoy most about working in the hardware sector?
I’m a bit of a hardware geek so I love anything to do with DIY. I really enjoy being at the forefront of watching new products go to market, and it’s particularly gratifying when my clients enjoy success with one of their products. If you’re a key influencer in that project then it’s really rewarding feeling when sales go well; celebrating with the brand and the team.
Paul is excited to talk to hardware suppliers around their retail plans and see how we can help support. To start that conversation, feel free to reach out to Paul directly on 0412 322 006 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org