It has dimensions of 180 x 90 x 40 centimetres, is galvanised and can hold up to 875 kilogrammes: The heavy duty shelf is the top-selling product at toom Baumarkt DIY stores. The stable rack is a real customer favourite, in particular among online consumers. But many things were different last year. Demand was also high for above-ground pools, air conditioners, high-pressure cleaners and gas grills during the year of the coronavirus.
“Many people who spent more time at home as a result of lockdowns and remote work decided to beautify their homes and gardens,” says Stefanie Holl, the Head of the Cross Channel Team at toom. Last March, a time when the economy and social life came to a standstill for the first time as a result of Covid-19, spring was in the air, and everyone headed outdoors. Garden furniture, grills and pools suddenly became more popular than ever. But not all customers wanted to go to a DIY store – because they were worried about their health or wanted to avoid the crowds in store aisles and checkout counters. Occasionally, some customers did not even have an opportunity to shop offline. In the German states of Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Bavaria and Saxony, DIY stores were forced to close their doors to private customers during the spring. Government authorities considered the risk of infection there to be too great. Many customers then decided to take their business online. This group included many frequently older customers who had exclusively done their shopping in the stores in the past.
Online shop with wide-ranging services
toom was well prepared, with its own online shop and comprehensive service. Things like Click & Reserve, through which customers reserved products online and then picked them up at their own convenience at the nearest store without extra costs. Customers who preferred to have products delivered to their doorstep used the Click & Deliver service. But the best technical platform in the world is worth nothing if transport companies press up against the outer limits of their capacity in spite of three-shift operations or the desired product is not available. Simply because so many more people decided during the spring of 2020 to purchase garden furniture, grills and, yes, even heavy duty shelves than they have normally done in the past. And also because supply chains were disrupted and containers that came from Asian ports in particular were forced to wait to be transported for an extended amount of time. “In normal times, our delivery times are one to three days,” Stefanie Holl says. “But in April, our customers had to wait up to three weeks, just like everywhere in the entire industry.” Customer service was operating at full throttle during this period. The telephone never stopped ringing, and online inquiries were submitted continuously. Colleagues from other company departments, including Human Resources and Business Development, were called on to help to manage the flood of inquiries. Which stores had to close? Which products could continue to be sold to whom during the lockdown? How is the hiring of delivery vans regulated? What sort of hygienic rules apply in stores? The answers to such questions on toom.de had to be updated over and over again because the rules occasionally changed from one day to the next and from city to city. In March, everyone on the store level had to make about 3,000 updates, Stefanie Holl says. By hand, of course.
Click & Collect facilitates purchases at toom during the second lockdown
Being available at any time and from anywhere – the toom online shop pulled off this trick during the special year of 2020. Customers did not simply limit their use of the service to heavy or bulky items that they wanted to have delivered to their homes. They ordered (or reserved) products from the entire range of product groups, also things that they used to buy in stores like flowers. “We supplied them from our plant centre in Bottrop,” Stefanie Holl says. toom delivered all other products across Germany from its fulfilment centre in Bochum.
In December 2020, DIY store customers gained access to additional digital services. The toom app helped them to manoeuvre their way through the company’s world of products and simplified the ordering process. The Click & Collect service enables them to order products online, pay for them directly and then pick up the items at a nearby store. Instead of following normal practises and putting the service to the test in a small number of stores, toom simply began to offer it at once across Germany. And their move paid off. Customers could continue to shop at toom during the second lockdown at the end of the year thanks to Click & Collect. And they could do so in a fast, contact-reducing way. Ordered online, picked up in the store, including, perhaps, that popular heavy duty shelf with the dimensions
of 180 x 90 x 40 centimetres.