Builders Warehouse of the future is unveiled
DIY and home improvement retailer Builders Warehouse is redesigning its brand.
With competition from Leroy Merlin, a new French entrant to the SA market, and dwindling retail sales, the retailer, owned by Massmart, is also expanding its digital offering.
This week, Builders relaunched its 17-year-old Boksburg flagship store with technology-dense services and product offerings. The new store is about 8,000m².
Online sales are a growing component of the business as the company seeks to ensure its shopping is made easy and seamless, said Massbuild CEO Llewellyn Walters.
He said the new technology features are about renewing the store formats of Builders Warehouse, Builders Express and Builders Trade Depot.
The Boksburg store will have roving payment devices that allow for purchases in various departments to prevent customers having to wait in long queues at the tills.
With 3D printing facilities, customers will be able to have repairs done — for example, on the handle of a pot, as it will be printed and replaced in the store.
Focus on women and lifestyle
The new Builders has also adjusted its format to make it more women friendly. Part of the store features garden and home furnishings such as curtains, blinds and lighting, giving it a lifestyle focus.
"The store design has evolved over time. Women are becoming more and more the decisionmakers in terms of the look and feel of the home.
"A substantial portion of the store is effectively focused on the female shopper — from a style and selection perspective," Walters said.
The business has also implemented what Walters calls the "Uberisation" of services, by investing in a services technology platform that keeps a database of known contractors who customers can request to do installations at their homes on behalf of Builders. "They would be buying the stock from Builders and that's the association," he said.
Despite Leroy Merlin's small footprint in SA, it has drawn reaction from Massbuild.
"Many of the hardware retailers have had to adjust their prices in anticipation of Leroy Merlin coming into the South African market," said Anthony Clark, an independent analyst.
Leroy Merlin is changing the dynamics because it has "an online ordering system and an operation called click and pick up, where you order online, you drive your truck to the back of the store, pick up what you need and drive away", Clark said.
"I would expect that the major DIY and building merchant retailers, like Builders Warehouse, Cashbuild and others, would have to significantly invest in their online platforms.
"They must invest in technology and refresh their stores because the consumer will now demand better, international-style offerings compared to what I would call the old-fashioned and tired boxes they used to have in this country," said Clarke.
Massbuild would probably also have to invest in a nationwide revamp of its stores, which would be costly but would have longer-term gains. "If they don't do it, they'll get eaten by the competition," he said.
The new look will be introduced to all the stores when they are due for upgrades.
Andre Steyn, marketing and innovation director at Builders, said: "This year Builders Warehouse Fourways, Edenvale, Constantiaberg and Table View will be retrofitted to align with the new design."