B&Q has launched a new smaller store concept to offer its customers a more convenient way to shop for home and DIY products.
The GoodHome by B&Q format in Wallington, just outside Croydon, marks a departure from the DIY chain’s larger sheds and its only other smaller shop, on London’s Holloway Road.
The 5,400 sq ft site has a sales area of just 1,615 sq ft and offers around 6,000 products. A typical B&Q store is around 100,000 sq ft and stocks 40,000 SKUs.
Unlike in its larger sheds, products are not stocked on the shop floor in the traditional way. Instead, customers either purchase items by using in-store digital screens, or by clicking and collecting through the B&Q app.
B&Q says click-and-collect orders made on the app are ready for collection within just five minutes, compared with an hour at its larger out-of-town locations.
The shift to opening smaller stores situated closer to its customers marks a key part of outgoing Kingfisher boss Véronique Laury’s One Kingfisher plan.
The DIY giant says GoodHome is the “physical manifestation” of her strategy, bringing together the best of B&Q, Screwfix and Castorama under one roof, powered by the tech and digital infrastructure the group has been working on behind the scenes since she took the helm.
City centre switch
Its launch comes after homewares rival Ikea lifted the lid on smaller formats of its own, including order and collection points and its first Planning Studio on Tottenham Court Road.
The latter is designed to provide customers with advice and inspiration around their kitchen and bathroom interiors.
In a similar vein, B&Q has mapped out 400 different DIY-related customer missions – and says GoodHome can address 120 of those from start to finish, from advice and planning through to purchase.
The store employs 10 front-of-house staff – referred to as ‘enthusiasts’ – who are on hand to talk customers through ideas and projects. In the ‘animation station’ section of the store, touchscreen pads provide content including ideas for decorating and how-to videos.
The interactive screens also give shoppers the option to purchase from an extended range of 20,000 products for next-day click-and-collect or for home delivery.
Smaller ‘express order’ screens allow customers to select and purchase any of the 6,000 products stocked in-store, ready for immediate collection from the back-of-house staff whom B&Q calls ‘precisionists’.
That customer journey, and the separate order point for trade customers to the right of the store, both leverage parts of the successful Screwfix model to make the shopping trip quick and convenient for customers who know what they want to purchase without speaking to a member of staff.
“On Amazon you just can’t get the level of experience you get here, so we have a responsibility as industry leaders to create something”
John Colley, Kingfisher
Kingfisher chief trading officer John Colley, who is responsible for the group’s format development, tells Retail Week that one more GoodHome store is planned for the Croydon area, with two in the pipeline in France, as the retailer seeks to test the format before committing to a wider roll out.
Colley says the GoodHome concept is part of Kingfisher’s drive to start “catering for customers of the future” amid competition from the likes of Ikea and online payers like Amazon and ManoMano.
“In retail in general we have to make it easier for customers to come to physical locations,” Colley says. “We wonder why we look at people like Amazon – either we’re making it very hard, or they are making it very easy.
“On Amazon you just can’t get the level of experience you get here, so we have a responsibility as industry leaders to create something.
“When you look at all the players who have disappeared. Why? Because they just did iterations of themselves again. This is different.
“I’m not scared that it’s a bit out there and different. Screwfix was when we first did it. And I think we’ve proven as a group how successful that’s been and I think we can do the same with this.”
Colley refuses to be drawn on sales targets for B&Q’s maiden GoodHome location, but baulks at the suggestion it could cannibalise sales from its larger B&Q stores in nearby Croydon and Sutton.
Instead, he says the aim of locating GoodHome so close to its existing stores is to create an “ecosystem” for its customers.
“There’s a lot of people in the area and we want all of those customers to buy home improvements from us, so how do we do that? We can’t expect them all to drive to Croydon and waste their Saturday.
“So actually, that might mean customers don’t transact in Croydon, but they do here, or they build a project here then drive to Croydon to complete it. The stores are working with each other.”
Colley says Kingfisher has “learnt a lot” from its smaller store on Holloway Road, but admits that is “essentially just a small B&Q”.
Larger products cannot be purchased in GoodHome, but it has introduced branded GoodHome products in categories such as paint, which will be rolled out across the Kingfisher estate in both the UK and Europe.
Colley says: “GoodHome is a different ethos, making DIY accessible and affordable. That’s why we’ve got GoodHome branding and product.
“I was asked ‘is it too radical?’ But when we opened the first Screwfix trade counter that was pretty radical, and people didn’t actually believe in it. We were a direct-mail business and we opened physical, so yes this is radical, but how radical is it really?
“All the things you can see in here you can access in an existing B&Q. An Argos-type shopping environment, an existing paint store – we’ve just brought it together in a slightly different way.”