Ace Chief ‘Leveraging Physical Stores in Digital World’
John Venhuizen is CEO of Ace Hardware, No. 6 on the Franchise Times Top 200+ ranking.
Think bricks and mortar retail is on the ropes? Don’t tell the CEO of Ace Hardware, who shared his strategies for boosting the hardware chain’s systemwide sales last year by 6.5 percent as part of our Franchise Times Top 200+ coverage.
John Venhuizen counts on “high-quality differentiated brands” in paint, barbecue and power equipment to serve customers. “You’ll never catch me saying anything bad about Amazon. They’re clearly a very disruptive company,” he said. But Ace franchisees feel “blessed to be in the business of serving others. The combination of a really specialty, premium-based retailer with high-touch service is difficult to emulate. It’s a little more immune to the conveniences of online, commoditized ordering.”
He used barbecue grills as an example. “Our stores are now offering free assembly and delivery” on their grills. “That’s a level of service and convenience that has been operationally difficult” for others to achieve.
He said they’re also exploiting a “real big geographic advantage. Seventy-five percent of the U.S. is in proximity to an Ace store,” he said. “Ninety-two percent of our online orders are picked up in the local stores for free, and that’s up about 36 percent. That’s leveraging physical stores in a digital world.”
Read complete coverage of the Franchise Times Top 200+, our annual ranking of the 500 largest U.S.-based franchises based on systemwide sales and unit count, in print and online October 1.