A new transactional website created by Somerset retailer Lanes Home Hardware will ultimately replicate “walking into your local hardware store”.
Lanes operates two long-established high street shops, Casswells in Midsomer Norton and Lanes in Cheddar, and launched its new website, housewaresonline.co.uk, in April.
Owner Michael Baulf told HousewaresLive.net: “We already had a company website, a purely factual one that said who we are, where we are and what we do.
“But forecasting forward we were anticipating that there might be a drop in retail sales as people’s shopping habits changed, and thought we ought to be putting in some process to make up the shortfall.”
He went on: “We’ve got in the shops about 11,000 SKUs and we’ve got 1,400 items online. We’re going to keep building it. We really do envisage having a full shop online, so that it’s the equivalent of walking into your local hardware store.”
The website offers a full hardware and housewares offer, covering everything from DIY and gardening products to kitchenware and tabletop.
Baulf said that being online had already been a useful learning experience for the company. Several niche items had sold particularly well: for instance, a Google search for cast iron mincers puts the website near the top of the listing.
“We cleared the UK supplier out of his stock!” Baulf said. “The experts tell us we’re in a very crowded marketplace. It isn’t just about prices, it’s getting people to find you.”
He said that the website had been created in-house. “But as it builds we’ll separate the function, give it its own staff and packing facility. Ideally we’d like to get somewhere up to a £300,000 turnover over 12 months. I think it’s going to be an important part of the business.”