Here it is - the first long weekend of the year in the UK (not counting New Year’s Day) and traditionally, the unofficial start of DIY season as families look to get home improvement jobs ticked off the ‘to do’ list.

Lockdown has seen almost all of us take on some form of DIY project in the last year and, as foriegn holidays are off the table and work from home seems to be here to stay, at least to some extent, for the foreseeable future, it is unsurprising that the trend is continuing in 2021. I’ve seen data that suggests that over half of Brits will spend anywhere between £4-8K on a home improvement project this year. DIY shops are posting great results, opening new branches and making clever decisions on how to expand their business and enhance their offering to customers.

What excites me about the activity in the DIY sector is the opportunity for brands to build deeper relationships with customers as those customers turn to DIY brands to help them build a home. There is a real opportunity for brands to help individuals learn new skills and to make themselves into an indispensable resource. I think about shoppers investing in their gardens (especially now as many of us can now entertain guests in our gardens) and the chance for brands to offer their customers tips on how to maintain their outdoor space over the course of a year. Through email, brand app or even a curated podcast, shoppers could receive tips on how to place, prune and maintain plants and perhaps even receive recipes on how to cook with the vegetables that they have grown.

When shoppers enter the DIY shop or garden centre, they could receive personalised recommendations on plants that are ready to be planted and those that are in stock that would work really well with items previously bought. Using gained data from previously shared details, suggestions could be personalised with the plants chosen based on the direction your garden faces and soil type.

Garden centres are also more than just a space to pick up bedding plants and bulbs. Anecdotally I know that they are, for many, a key meet-up spot – a place for families and social groups to have a coffee or a slice of carrot cake. The customer base for these retail locations can be wide with trades, families and individuals, with people visiting at different times of the day or on different days. Using sensor systems and connected signage, anonymous data can be collected on which demographics are visiting when and relevant content shown on the in-store digital displays accordingly.

There is also huge potential for brands to mitigate the frustrations that so many of us can feel when taking on a home improvement project. Traditionally, the Easter long weekend means the aisles of DIY big box shops are packed with families as they search out paint rollers or wall plugs. This year may be different as more households have started to use delivery and click and collect, but waiting in line for a click and collect order can be a soul-sapping process and one that could be transformed through an integrated technology solution such as effective signage or digital lockers. Customers may not even have to leave their cars if a solution such as parking lot activation is utilised with the ordered items delivered straight to the car boot and extra items able to be purchased from the driver’s seat.

It’s not just fulfilment but also product shortages that can be a frustration. The UK news has been reporting a lack of outdoor furniture due to the price of shipping and, as we’ve seen with the saga of the Ever Given and the Suez Canal, supply chain issues can be sudden, unpredictable and long lasting. With integrated signage at the front of the store or even on the edge of the aisles, customers can be told of shortages, given recommendations or perhaps prompted to make an order to have the out of stock item delivered when it is available.

So a few ideas on how integrated technology can help home improvement retailers and garden centres, but the ideas aren’t just limited to DIY. You can find out more in our latest white paper. Building Retail looks at what the available data tells us about the trends in consumer expectations across Europe and suggests how retailers can make the most of the technologies available to deepen connections with their customers. With some creative examples, Building Retail shows how brands can create fluid sales experiences where every customer touchpoint works together to create seamless interactions for the individual and cultivate essential information for businesses. I may be biased but I think it is a good read - especially while working from a sunny suburban patio.

Wishing you a wonderful long weekend - whether you are wallpapering, assembling patio furniture or simply enjoying spending time in the garden.

Darren Cremins is a Senior Sales Director at Scala for the UK and Ireland regions. As 20+ year digital signage industry expert, Darren primarily helps retailers engage with their customers. Throughout his nearly 10 years with Scala, Darren has developed a strong focus on combining not only the Scala solutions, but the complete STRATACACHE family of solutions into the UK & Ireland market in this ever-changing world of marketing technology and digital signage.

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