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GUEST COMMENT Enhancing the customer experience: How the DIY industry can find its voice again

Today's DIY toolkit – metaverse not pictured

DIY and home décor have seen a surge in popularity recently. From decorative interior work and picking colour charts, to fitted kitchens and even larger projects like extensions and garden landscaping – the benefits for consumers taking on projects themselves not only cut costs but allows them to be involved in the whole design process.

Programmes such as Grand Designs and Amazing Spaces have given confidence to budding home renovators and the rise of online interior design influencers on Instagram and Pinterest provides us with a creative outlet to research our future dream home.

So why is it, in an age of online retail, where buying new items for the home, is easier than ever, do DIY companies find themselves still struggling?

Earlier this year, B&Q faced a blow as its CEO Veronique Laury announced her departure amid worsening profits and 20 store closures. This comes just weeks after Wickes’ reported a fall in sales due to an “extremely challenging year” for UK DIY.

With questions raised about the future of the high street now more than ever before, the DIY industry needs to address consumers’ concerns in order to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive and ever-evolving environment. How do DIY retailers better connect with their customers, and meet them where they are, online?

Listen to the customers’ voice to create loyalty

Recent research commissioned by Bazaarvoice identified a gap in loyalty within the DIY sector. Of 15 leading DIY brands, only nine were recognised by just 10% of the population. This shows there is a huge disparity between the biggest names, and the smaller players – yet both are feeling the pinch of dropped sales.

We know that price is a huge factor when it comes to consumer purchase decision making (60%), but turning to customer reviews and feedback is another key driver (30%) – with the added advantage of igniting lasting loyalty.

Shoppers look to reviews and other content generated directly by their fellow customers on retailer websites as it helps them filter out the bias and verify the products they intend to buy. Ratings and reviews also give customers the confidence to make an informed purchase decision.

There is an opportunity for DIY to use the voice of the customer and utilise customer content online to create more meaningful shopper experiences, which will result in increased customer loyalty. Connecting consumers with the opinions and experiences of others online is a vital part of enabling successful projects and as a result, trust.

Guiding customers through online videos

Renovating and decorating can be a daunting task for many people. We know that two-thirds of consumers are comfortable taking on simple household maintenance such as changing a light bulb or painting. However, when it comes to larger projects, such as drilling fixtures, confidence drops to 46%. This is why so many people seek advice from YouTube video tutorials – nearly 40% look for support online when carrying out a project itself, highlighting there is a huge need for DIY retailers to marry the online experience with its retail website. By offering their own branded video content, they will meet consumers’ needs right at the point of purchase and beyond.

Wickes is one DIY retailer connecting the online experience with consumers, with a range of how-to videos on its website. From tiling to flooring, its created a go-to space for easy to follow guides online, without the customer having to look elsewhere for advice.

As an important touchpoint for the brand, the website is the first place a customer will go to start their digital brand journey. If they can also access practical online help and advice without having to leave, this will add real value by instilling loyalty and further encouraging purchasing decisions.

The digital experience

60% of our survey said they’re planning on some maintenance work over the next 12 months, which poses a great opportunity for DIY retailers to make a profit, if they can navigate the digital experience for their customers. Consumer uncertainty around DIY projects is much the same as it has always been. What has radically changed is the means by which DIY-ers can seek out advice.

The internet is a melting pot of information, opinions and shared experiences, with algorithms in place to ensure highly-targeted information is put in front of the consumer. For DIY retailers looking at how they can win the loyalty of consumers, and convert them into brand advocates, it’s about creating a virtuous circle with the customer, where content, product and the path to purchase all match up.

Offering customers the content they need at the right point in their journey means going online. Making sure the right content is there when the they need will help them make the right purchase.

Getting these elements right sets the foundation for greater customer loyalty and a framework for business success. So when they are in the market for their next home renovation or decorating project, they’ll know exactly where to look to get the best advice from experts and opinions from like-minded peers.

Author: Sophie Light-Wilkinson, vice president of marketing, EMEA,  Bazaarvoice

Image credit: Fotolia

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