Is Ace on-brand with The Grommet acquisition?
Ace Hardware, renowned for its top-notch shopping experience, is making an acquisition that may mean more interesting items on the shelves for DIYers and maybe something new for its e-commerce customers, too.
Ace now holds a majority share in The Grommet, reported the Chicago Tribune. Since 2008, The Grommet, has made products created by entrepreneurs and inventors available online, boasting such consumer hits as Sodastream and FitBit on the site. Ace’s acquisition of the company comes after last year’s pilot of an “Innovation Incubator” in partnership with The Grommet. The trial placed displays of Grommet products in select Ace locations, with about 40 items rotating quarterly. The most successful of those products then went on to appear in all of Ace’s stores.
While Ace has put Grommet products on its physical shelves, it’s not clear if Ace intends to use The Grommet’s web presence to reach e-commerce customers or go with its own branded e-commerce footprint.
Ace said in a news release that it did not intend to change The Grommet’s strategic direction as a champion of “the underdog,” according to the Tribune. The chain draws a connection between serving DIY home repair enthusiasts and helping bedroom and basement inventors hit it big with their innovations.
Ace has recently rolled out other pilots, pushing its already impressive customer service offering in different directions. In 2015, the company began piloting same-day delivery at 33 stores. Reports have not indicated if the same-day delivery option was successful enough to be rolled out to stores beyond the pilot.
Regardless of the success of any single initiative, Ace continues to be one of the most highly-regarded chains in the world of brick-and-mortar home improvement retail. Earlier this year, a survey of 7,800 people found the majority of customers cited Ace as their favorite place to shop when working on DIY projects. The results were based on factors like shopability and associate knowledge.
In May of 2017 the chain reported an increase in net income of 8.4 percent and expanded its global store count beyond 5,000 stores.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does the acquisition of The Grommet make sense for the Ace brand? How should Ace continue to incorporate Grommet products in their stores, and should Ace also consider new initiatives that make use of Grommet’s online presence?