Besides the basic species, grades and thicknesses everyone thinks about when they discuss hardwood lumber, what other products or services do you include in your hardwood product line? When was the last time you added something to your product offerings? If you are a hardwood distributor it is important to keep your offerings fresh and in line with the needs of your target market.
Since the hardwood industry is usually a rapidly changing marketplace, it’s imperative to continuously refine what you have to offer. However, part of the challenge, could be determining precisely what to add, why to add it and when such a change is needed. Many companies consider augmenting their product line for one of two main reasons. One, to better serve the needs of their customers or two, to drive more revenue for the business.
We have found it is important to ensure that you’re not adding products merely for the sake of change. It pays to do your due diligence and ensure any product line changes will bring value to your customers and your company.
Here are a few best practices we try to incorporate when we think about changes to our hardwood lumber product line.
- Ask several questions. Any substantial venture should start by asking and answering certain basic questions. Who is the target market, what is the need, what is the potential, how will you differentiate, etc. Go deep and make sure a product line change really makes sense.
- Know your market. It’s possible other businesses may already offer a variation of the proposed new product. If a successful incumbent already has a dominant position with a product you are considering adding to your portfolio you could be in for a difficult market entry. Do additional research and see if you can uncover a gap or a need that is not being filled and design your offering accordingly.
- Involve your internal audience. Your existing employees can be a great place to start! Involve them early and often in the process. Integrate their ideas and use this as a way to build enthusiasm for the change and to keep them fully informed along the way.
- Be aligned. Before you launch a new product make sure the entire team is aligned. Give the proper attention to the overall “go to market strategy” inclusive of sales training, advertising, the marketing materials requires and the online presence you will need to be successful. Remember, your team might only have one chance to make a positive impression so equip them with what they need to be successful.
In recent years, we have seen many of our distribution customers add new hardwood lumber products. Some are specific color sorted items like 90/90 walnut or a ceratin type of white hard maple. Some are new species such as Ipe decking or Brazilian Cherry. Others add certain SLR2E lumber products. Most start stocking these items because of a new customer request but then they quickly go through the process to make it a formal product line item.
If we can help you with an idea or two, please give us a call. We would be happy to earn your business.