Würth, Toom and Co .: why DIY stores are pushing into inner cities

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In the middle of Stuttgart's main shopping street, a look to the side, and for a little while one feels transported to the industrial area. Because a business does not want to fit into the dense inner city crowding.

Surrounded by shopping centers, fashion stores, restaurants, cafes and street musicians, screw manufacturer Würth has set up a branch office here. In addition to a few artisan utensils you can buy something surprising: everyday clothing, sports bags, socks, umbrellas, dishes, books, children's painting sets or USB chargers.

The retailer simply describes its shop on Stuttgart's Königsstraße as a "family store". The shop serves as a kind of inner-city experimental laboratory and should help to open up new target groups away from craftsmen and the industry. "We want to bring the Würth brand into the consciousness of the end consumer," it says of the company, which employs more than 77,000 people worldwide and otherwise sells its core products exclusively to craft professionals. Anyone who does not have a trade license but only wants to do a little DIY at home can not regularly shop online or in one of the more than 500 company sales offices nationwide.

This is different in the "Family Store", everyone can take courageous steps here. The range of classic artisan products in the city center, however, is extremely clear – and gives the customers at most a vague idea of ​​what products Würth generates its annual turnover of more than 13 billion euros. Würth does not mention the numbers of its shops in the city center, but it does not concern margin increases anyway. The store is primarily a marketing campaign, says marketing researcher Sascha Alavi from the Ruhr University Bochum. The brand awareness should be increased.

Würth is far from alone with this idea. Above all, so-called pop-up stores are becoming increasingly popular across industries. Businesses of all kinds open in trendy inner city areas usually for limited periods boutique-like shops, in which only a mini-selection of goods is found. But – as with Würth – great emphasis is placed on a relaxed, hip atmosphere. "Companies have the opportunity to transport a modern, innovative image," says Alavi. Customer proximity and modernity could be communicated so well. "However, the business model is limited to large, financially strong companies that would benefit greatly from high brand awareness."

In the do-it-yourself sector, for example, the DIY chains Toom and Hagebau have been trying on temporary pop-up stores. Hagebau opened between May and August in Mühlheim an der Ruhr an inner city shop on only 50 square meters, offered the customer smaller takeaway items, discontinued goods and advertising goods and promoted with product demonstrations in their own right. One must open up new target groups without losing sight of the old ones, says a Hagebau spokesman. "We believe this is not an either-or, but a both-as-well."

In cities like Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, there are now many customers who "no longer have a car and accordingly do not drive to a hardware store on the outskirts of the city". In order to address these "young, urban" people, it is indispensable to come to the inner cities themselves. "And not with an assortment as in the traditional hardware store, but also with unusual offers. For example, the opportunity to realize your own ideas in such a store with the support of professionals in a furnished workshop. »

Toom has already opened similar inner-city stores in Cologne and Frankfurt / Main, focusing on the sale of selected products in view of the limited space available. In the present day, one not only competes with hardware stores, but also with Internet giants such as Amazon, Ebay and Co., says a spokeswoman for the Rewe Group owned company. It is therefore important to test new concepts, the brand must be «profiled and strengthened».

Alavi believes the trend towards such stores will continue across industries, especially as conventional digital marketing efforts are often no longer effective. "The effect of stores is also based on the 'allure of the new' and the time-limited availability that suggests scarcity,» says the scientist. The event character and not the actual product are in the foreground. A Würth spokeswoman says that the "Family Store", which was opened indefinitely, even occasionally buys jewelry. Jewelry – at a screw manufacturer!

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