John and Chris Henkle don’t want to own the biggest hardware store around, they want to own the best and according to Ace corporation and their customers they do. Henkle’s Ace Hardware in Webb City, Missouri was named one of Coolest Hardware Stores on the planet by Ace in 2015 and the store has gotten better ever since.
Using Technology to be Cool
John Henkle grew up in the hardware business and the couple had owned a store in Oklahoma, so when the opportunity in Webb City presented itself, they knew exactly what they wanted to create. They used antique brick and decorative iron to replicate an old-fashioned downtown storefront. Inside, they chose Paladin Data Corporation to provide the latest retail technology to make their business operate simply, efficiently and effectively as possible.
Webb City is a small suburb of Joplin, Missouri, so even though the Henkle’s store takes up a half–block with 10,000 square feet of floor space, two 1,500 sf greenhouses and a 5,000-sf drive-through lumberyard, they face competition from big-boxes and some large hardware stores and lumberyards.
They use creative marketing, Paladin’s innovative technology and a lot of hustle and hard work to create a store with a unique shopping experience and an enthusiastic customer following. They use Paladin’s Mobile² suite of applications and its integration with Ez-Ad to enhance their B2B business, delivery services and in-store shopping experience.
Ez-Ad provides a dynamic shopping experience by allowing store associates to use real-time data on mobile applications and digital monitors to show off new products, compare prices and show demonstration videos.
In addition to the state-of-the-art retail technology, John and Chris host a weekly radio show that offers home improvement tips to loyal listeners.
Delivering the Goods
“Eighteen percent of our business is business-to-business that we deliver to,” Chris explains. “I think if stores are going to thrive, reaching out to customers is very important. And if you’re going to develop a delivery program and schedule times for deliveries, Paladin can help do that.”
Paladin’s Mobile²Deliver and Mobile²Checkout allows Henkle’s Hardware to be agile and mobile with its customer service.
“We sell a lot of grills, so the ability for a cashier to sell a grill and set up a delivery ticket for it on Paladin, that’s really important, too. To be able to take a notepad out on a delivery and take a picture of it if it’s a questionable delivery or have the customer sign it, that’s all really neat stuff. It’s impressive to customers, too,” she says.
As an Ace store, Henkle’s uses Mobile²Checkout to fulfill buy-online, pickup in-store purchases. Instead of having to handwrite orders, store associates take a Bluetooth scanner into supply closets to create pickup orders. They also use the Mobile² Suite in their drive-through lumberyard and expansive garden center where the store creates and sells approximately 620 hanging floral baskets each year. Chris says they average roughly 600 outside transactions each Mother’s Day, about three times the number on any given Sunday.
Delivering What Big Boxes Can’t
The Henkles use of cutting–edge retail technology, innovative marketing and hustle allows their store to succeed in the face of larger corporate competition.
“We would love it if we had vans running all the time. That’s what we’re working toward – having delivery on demand or having delivery with very view limits,” Chris explains. “The big boxes can’t respond. They have limits on their deliveries. If someone comes in here and orders a grill, on some days we can deliver it within an hour, or at least a few hours. They can have it and be cooking on it that weekend. That’s what’s cool about small businesses. We can be quick to respond.”