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Bunnings Takes On CE Retailers With New Home Automation Offering

Bunnings is set to take on JB Hi Fi, The Good Guys and Harvey Norman in the fast-growing home automation market they are also close to launching their online click and collect service.

The big hardware retailer has expanded their automation and lighting offering with the inclusion of several new brands with distributors telling ChannelNews that the Company is now looking at ranging more voice activated control systems that enable consumers to control security, lighting and other systems in the home.

Among the brands being offered in Bunnings stores are Philips, Sengled, Google Home Mini, Lifx and Wiz as well as products from Brilliant Lighting.

The new products allow Bunnings customers to upgrade their lighting system and be able to control dimming, light bulb colour via a smartphone and a Google Mini system. The Company is also selling security systems that can be voice activated.

This is not the first time that Bunning has had a stab at selling automation kit. Past efforts have failed with product stripped from their stores.

This time round the lighting section in some stores have been moved to the centre of the store.

At Artarmon lighting and automation is close to the entrance however staff that ChannelNews were confused when asked questions about the products. They also admitted that the automation products were “slow sellers”.

It’s also been revealed that following a successful pilot in Tasmania, that Bunnings is expected to announce shortly that click-and-collect will next be rolled out in the Melbourne metro area with other locations across Australia set to be rolled out later in the year.

The Company is also examining the potential of an online home delivery service as well as an expansion into new network products.

Bunnings chief executive Michael Schneiderhe told the Australian that he recognised many had tagged the chain as being “late to the party” when it comes to an online offering, but its strategy of learning from early adopters, investigating what its overseas peers are doing and fashioning its own technology would reward it in the long run.

“So I think we recognise that, for a whole variety of different reasons, we could have had an opportunity to be online with trans­actions a little bit earlier, but it’s the advantage of doing it now as we are leaning into some very contemporary technology platforms,” Mr Schneider told The Australian as he walked the Bunnings store in Glenorchy, Hobart.

“We have had the opportunity to look very closely at what global peers have been doing and understand the mistakes that other ­retailers have made.

“We wanted to get the very best service for our customer; we didn’t want to have a great in-store Bunnings experience but a clunky website, which had to have that Bunnings feel to it too.’’

The Hobart store is typical of the plans for the rest of Australia. It has about 70 per cent of its total products available for online ­orders to be picked up by cus­tomers at a desk within the store. Orders made before 4pm can be picked up by 9am the next day.

Simplicity has been key for Bunnings and its new director of digital and analytics, Leah Balter, has led the implementation, which has seen simple shelves near the store entrance used as the click-and-collect desk.

Bunnings staff, no matter what area they work in, can link to a central booking system that ­allows them to pick up products from the shelf to fill online orders as they walk through the store and deal with customers, much like Uber drivers circulating through suburbs waiting for the next nearest customer.

The pilot trial is already delivering a strong uplift in sales as the size of orders placed online is on average larger than the typical basket size of purchases made by walk-in customers. And some categories are proving more popular than others.

“We have learned that cus­tomers shop in categories right across the store, but some categories are emerging to be more popular, especially relating to a specific project — such as storage or fixing stuff like door handles, those kind of projects,” Mr Schneider said.

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