Screwfix’s Marketing Strategy: The Story Behind the Largest UK Trade Tools & Hardware Retailer

Screwfix's marketing strategy

Screwfix started out in 1979 as the Woodscrew Supply Company. Since its origins, it has grown substantially and is now one of the most well-known hardware retailers in the United Kingdom. 

In 1999, the company was acquired by Kingfisher, PLS, and is part of a network of 1.400 stores. Its growth has stemmed from efforts to build a great workplace culture and a strong marketing strategy. Since 2015, Screwfix has been recognized with multiple awards for its dedication to quality and service as well as its commitment to its employees. 

But it takes more than quality and a decent workplace to become one of the most well-known retailers in the UK. Screwfix’s marketing strategy has played a large role in building brand awareness, celebrating company accomplishments, and driving customers to the brand. Screwfix’s case study showcases how the company used forward thinking, a commitment to customer service, and customization to grow from a solo page catalog to one of the most successful retailers around.  

Screwfix’s History: From Woodscrew Supply Company In 1979 Till Today

When the Woodscrew Supply Company was founded in 1979, its mail order catalog was one page containing a variety of screws. In 1987, the company expanded its offerings to include hardware. As a result, the catalog grew to four pages. 

The first Screwfix Direct Catalog was released in 1992, starting a period of rapid growth. After the company’s acquisition by Kingfisher, it opened a contact center and began operating seven days a week. In the five years that followed, Screwfix opened a 325,000-square-foot distribution center to fulfill orders. After such, it began opening retail locations. 

Screwfix’s marketing strategy blossomed to include a Facebook and Twitter presence in 2010 and 2012, a few years before the company launched Click & Collect – a mobile website that made shopping at home easier. The company also has a popular YouTube channel and maintains a consistent presence on Instagram and TikTok. With a young workforce, Screwfix is able to tap into new marketing trends. 

In the past decade, Screwfix has continued growing, with its 800th store opening in 2022. The company has earned multiple accolades, including one of Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” in 2017 and “Best Customer Experience” by Retail Week in 2022.

2008: The Spread Out of Screwfix’s Stores & The DIY Market Challenge

Screwfix's marketing strategy

Three years after Screwfix’s first store opening in 2005, the company was going strong with 100 retail locations. But the financial collapse of 2008 and increased pressure from internet retailers like Amazon threatened to derail this growth. Additionally, the construction and DIY industry, which serves as Screwfix’s main customer base, was hardly growing. 

Instead of handling this challenge by cutting costs, Screwfix chose to pivot, changing its online business model to compete directly with Amazon. Screwfix started offering its multichannel order fulfillment approach, enabling customers to order products in the evening and have them delivered by Royal Mail the next morning. 

This was also the year that Screwfix’s marketing strategy introduced the option of ordering online for in-store pickup. Its goal for this strategy was to offer a better solution to Amazon and eliminate the retail giant as competition. At the time, this level of customer service wasn’t available in Europe. Screwfix’s omnichannel strategy helped it stand out with customers and drive business away from the competition. In the years following its implementation, Screwfix continued to open new stores every week, even when the DIY market was experiencing a downturn. 

The ability to innovate instead of making reactionary decisions in a time of uncertainty allowed Screwfix to stick to its growth strategy even as the industry was facing difficulties. 

Screwfix’s (Legendary) Catalog Going Digital

Screwfix's marketing strategy

Screwfix was built on its catalog. What started as a single-page publication blossomed into a popular showcase of over 16.000 products. But after 300 editions, the company switched to a completely digital publication. 

This digital edition of its catalog offered a more robust experience for customers who could see nearly double the range of products. This transition was a natural response to shopping preferences, as 21% of all retail sales occur online as of 2022.

Screwfix’s mobile app also offers customers a more convenient way to shop. Buyers can place orders with the click of a button and receive products the next day through the mail, or they can pick up their purchases in-store. 

In 2021, Screwfix’s marketing strategy got a boost with an added layer of convenience. The company introduced “Click & Collect”, a one-hour delivery service that saves customers a trip to the store. 

Screwfix’s Marketing Strategy that Drives Growth 

Screwfix's marketing strategy

Screwfix’s growth came from the following 10 key marketing factors. We’ve spotted and analyzed them below, so feel free to try them for your business.

Key Strategy #1: Going Omnichannel

Screwfix’s business model is a prime example of how the omnichannel shopping experience improves customer experience. While many retailers are currently on board with this strategy, partially due to the pandemic, Screwfix tried this strategy a decade earlier. 

While an economic downturn and increased pressure from retail giants like Amazon could’ve deflated any CEO, Screwfix chose to tackle the problem head-on, offering an omnichannel shopping experience before it was commonplace. Customers loved the ability to get their merch quickly and efficiently. 

Its decision to give customers the ability to order online and pick up or return items in the store is a key component of its success. This customer-centric approach makes shopping more convenient and gives Screwfix’s customer base access to the tools and resources they need immediately. 

In the construction industry, having access to the tools needed to complete jobs is a necessity. Contractors and other workers can’t afford to spend days waiting for parts and materials in the mail. Screwfix’s overnight shipping and omnichannel shopping approach eliminated this problem. 

By 2015, Screwfix had seen sales grow by 27.9% over the previous year and began expanding services into Germany. 

Key Strategy #2: Customer Experience

Screwfix's marketing strategy

In the home improvement sector, customer experience can improve retail sales by around 19%. In 2022, retail customers expect a personalized experience, and many companies are starting to integrate customer data with their inventory to help better fulfill orders. 

Screwfix had strategies in place to ensure a consistent customer experience at every touchpoint, from online shopping to in-store checkout and pickup. The company often studies its customers, using feedback to improve the customer experience. Screwfix’s marketing strategy is built on personalization and a great rapport with its customer base. Its success is not the result of luck, but a consistent, passionate strategy that is successfully replicated online.

Because of this commitment to innovation and customer support, Screwfix has been recognized by Retail Week with awards for “Best Customer Experience,” most recently for its 60-minute order delivery system. 

Key Strategy #3: Supply Chain

Screwfix's marketing strategy

To support rapid growth, Screwfix has expanded its distribution capabilities, adding new centers to keep up with demand. In the spring of 2022, the company opened its newest center, a 370,0000 square-foot site. These distribution centers help the company manage inventory across over 750 retail stores as well as online orders. 

Key Strategy #4: Mobile First

Screwfix’s customer base primarily consists of trade professionals in construction, plumbing, electrical, and other industries in which projects need to stay on time and within budget. To accommodate these customers, the company offers an app that gives people access to its 37,000-item catalog wherever they are. 

Rather than having to write down the materials needed for a project for in-store shopping, Screwfix customers can easily search inventory and place orders through the mobile app. They can either pick up their items at a nearby store or opt for 60-minute delivery. This convenience helps them complete their jobs quickly. 

Key Strategy #5: Commitment to Employees

Building a company in which people are excited to work makes them more motivated to perform well. Screwfix is consistently ranked atop “ Best Places to Work” lists. The company polls its workers to see what they like about working there. Many employees appreciate the work-life balance and the commitment to their personal career growth. 

A commitment to employees is also great for business, as positive company culture can improve retail sales by 20%.  Screwfix has always been dedicated to creating a culture that attracts bright workers. By treating employees well, helping them develop, and listening to their needs, Screwfix has motivated them to provide great customer service, which is a hallmark of the company’s business model. 

Tommy Hilfiger Banner

Key Strategy #6: Establishing a Local Presence

Customers have long been interested in giving back to local businesses, but this commitment strengthened following COVID-19. In 2021, 62% of shoppers in the UK reported a desire to keep shopping locally. 

Screwfix understands the importance of appealing to people in each community. It runs advertising through local print and online channels to better connect to people in regional areas. 

Moreover, Screwfix’s marketing strategy is built on personalization. App users can log in and see deals in their local stores. These efforts benefitted the company, boosting its weekly new customers’ rate by 5%.

Key Strategy #7: Knowing your customer

Screwfix’s business model is built on customer feedback. And the company’s advertising strategy is no exception. In a recent ad campaign called “ The Choice of Champions,” Screwfix showcased tradespeople, highlighting their skills and experience. Instead of using typical images of tradespeople, this ad campaign showcased them in a positive light, embracing what they do every day. 

Screwfix’s pricing strategy also aligns with its customers, as the company offers quality products at an affordable price point. This allows its customers to finish jobs without raising overall budgets. 

Key Strategy #8: Capitalizing on an Opportunity

Screwfix's marketing strategy

Screwfix began its life strictly filling mail orders, and grew its online presence in the late 1990s and early 2000s. According to CEO Andrew Livingston, Screwfix only opened its first retail store as a reaction to customer demand. He noted that people kept coming to the distribution center to purchase materials. Instead of turning them away, he and his team decided to open a retail store, which has blossomed into locations all over the UK and Germany. 

Key Strategy #9: Investing in the New Generation

Screwfix’s success story is due, in large part, to its employees and customers. With each new retail store and distribution center, the company creates new jobs for hundreds of workers across the UK. Screwfix has hired over 1,000 new workers under the age of 24 and the company regularly promotes from within. This strategy helped to build the company’s reputation as a place people love to work. 

Key Strategy #10: Building goodwill through philanthropy

Along with its commitment to hiring people impacted by the pandemic, Screwfix is also involved in charitable work. In 2022, Screwfix raised £2 million, supporting charities that help people fix and maintain their houses even when they can’t afford the repairs. 

Customers are attracted to a company that gives back to the community, and Screwfix’s continued growth throughout various economic downturns is a testament to this. 

Screwfix’s eCommerce Website

As one of the top retail brands, Screwfix’s eCommerce website has been highly evaluated in multiple case studies. And for good reason — Screwfix has perfected the art of converting customers. We have analyzed a 4-page template of their site to identify eCommerce best practices and mistakes you should avoid. 

A. Analyzing Screwfix’s Homepage

Screwfix's marketing strategy
Source: Screwfix

What we liked: 

  • Promotional grid banner: this banner is personalized to each user based on their shopping history.
  • Personalized home page that lets users log in to their cart and see their history
  • Easy navigation to different parts of the site
  • Eye-catchy, above-the-fold exclusive deals
  • Minimal design that doesn’t confuse the visitor
  • Store locator functionality on the search bar
  • Detailed drop-down menu

What we didn’t: 

  • Filter navigation could be easier
  • Not as easy to use as the website
  • Difficult to skip pages
  • The search bar is getting lost when the customer scrolls down

B. Analyzing Screwfix’s Category Page

Screwfix's marketing strategy
Source: Screwfix

What we liked: 

  • Sticky cart functionality makes it easy to find what you’re looking for
  • Categories are well-organized
  • Promotional grid makes it easy to see sales
  • A “bestsellers” section that displays the most famous items
  • Neatly organized grid with clear images
  • Both click-n-collect and delivery options
  • Related searches banner on top of the page
  • Comparison button between similar products
  • Comprehensive and thorough filtering on the left side of the page

What we didn’t:

  • Once you click on a category, it’s hard to sort your options
  • Filter navigation was expected to be easier
  • Sometimes items on your shopping list don’t transfer over to the cart

C. Analyzing Screwfix’s Product Page

Screwfix's marketing strategy
Source: Screwfix

What we liked: 

  • Product reviews are prominently located
  • Distinct Q&A, Specifications, and Return policy sections
  • It’s easy to see what’s in your basket
  • You can pay in-store using a QR code
  • You can easily check inventory at your local store
  • The delivery time of a product is stated explicitly

What we didn’t: 

  • Shopping lists don’t always transfer to the cart
  • The CTA button writes “Deliver”, instead of “add to cart”, making it somewhat confusing

D. Analyzing Screwfix’s Checkout Feature

Source: Screwfix

What we liked: 

  • You can carry over your shopping list
  • It’s easy to set your delivery or pickup options
  • You can check into the store when you need to pick up your order
  • Product recommendations that increase AOV

What we didn’t:

  • Sometimes the online payment doesn’t transfer into the store
  • No guest check-out
  • No way to filter which branch you need
  • Can’t zoom in on images or text

Technologies Screwfix Could Use to Further Increase its Customer Engagement

While Screwfix is dedicated to technology, it could use a few new features. These tools would help address common customer complaints. 

24/7 Customer Service with an Omnichannel Chat

Screwfix’s stores are open seven days a week, showcasing a dedication to customer service. But Screwfix’s marketing mix could benefit from a 24/7 customer engagement strategy. In-app reviews, customers expressed frustration with the Q&A feature. Contact Pigeon’s retail customer engagement platform features chatbots that would allow customers to find answers quickly without having to scroll through pages of data.  

While Screwfix is a leader in customer service, it could boost its ability to serve customers to stay ahead of the competition. 

Interesting Technologies Screwfix Currently Implements

Using the ‘buildwith’ tool, we scanned Screwfix’s UK website and highlighted the most impressive technologies spotted. Screwfix’s marketing objectives involve celebrating customers and using insights to tailor each engagement. The company is dedicated to creating a unique customer experience, and many of its tools provide insights the company can use to boost its online experience, making it as smooth and consistent as possible.

  • Dynatrace: To help personalize banner ads, promotional offers, and more, Screwfix uses Dynatrace. This tool lets a company monitor how users are interacting with the site. Your company can use this tool to see insights on popular products in certain areas, user transactions, and differences between mobile users and users on the website.

  • Yotaa: Yottaa helps to optimize the online user experience with A/B testing and performance evaluation. You can use it to see what is slowing your site down, ensuring that all customers can get where they need to go in a hurry. You can use its insights to boost your visibility and analyze how people are interacting with your site. 

  • Content Square: Content Square takes user experience analysis up a notch, giving you access to heat maps, user journeys, and more. This tool lets you see which products are driving the most traffic. It also gives you valuable insights into your merchandise. Use it to see which products customers purchased together or which promotions drove the most sales. 

  • Adobe Analytics: Formerly known as SiteCatalyst or Omniture, Adobe Analytics includes plugins that let you evaluate marketing campaigns. With it, you can see traffic metrics, conversion rates, social media mentions, and more. For a company like Screwfix whose marketing is built on community, this tool is a great way to see which campaigns are connecting with customers and gaging internet presence.

  • Bazaarvoice: Bazaarvoice is a great tool for content marketing. It helps companies collect user-generated content by evaluating post-purchase emails, online reviews, social media content, and more. This data helps you refine your product pages, keeping them fresh. Screwfix’s digital marketing strategy encourages user-generated content. User-generated content helps to boost your credibility since buyers are more likely to trust word of mouth. This tool helps you curate customer opinions and celebrate them on your website, inspiring more potential conversions.  

Discover Μore Case Studies Οf Top Retailers

Impressive Screwfix Statistics You Should Know

  • Screwfix’s website is ranked number one in the Home and Garden category in the United Kingdom. (Similar Web)
  • Screwfix had 20.7 million website visits in August 2022. (Semrush)
  • The average time spent on each Screwfix Page was 9 minutes and 29 seconds. (Semrush)
  • Screwfix’s website visits have increased each month for the past three months. (Similarweb)
  • Screwfix’s target audience is primarily male. (Similarweb)

Grow(th) Like Screwfix

If you’re new to the eCommerce game, you may not envision a time in which your lone website will expand into an 800-store empire. Screwfix managed to grow its company steadily by paying attention to its customers and jumping on new technologies. 

Following its acquisition in 1999, Screwfix began operating an online catalog to supplement its existing one. The ability to peruse an online database was relatively new at the time, but it helped spur rapid growth. Once customers kept trying to purchase items in person at the distribution center, executives saw the need for retail locations, and the company began to thrive.

With the pandemic boosting eCommerce, there is no room for staying idle. Stay on top of what your customers need and build your marketing strategy around exceptional customer service. And before you invest in a powerful customer engagement platform, do some market research and find the tool that’s best for you.  Let Contact Pigeon help you stay ahead of the competition. Schedule a retail customer engagement consultation today and see how you can best meet your customers’ needs.  

Let’s Help You Scale Up

Spending time on Linkedin? Follow us and get notified of our thought-leadership content:

Loved this article? We also suggest:

Sofia Spanou

View posts by Sofia Spanou
Sofia, the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) and Data Protection Officer (DPO) at ContactPigeon, is a seasoned professional driving revenue growth for the company. With a background in leading the Customer Success Team, she excels at helping clients flourish in online commerce. Beyond her role, Sofia is a devoted wife and mother, finding fulfillment in balancing her successful career with cherished moments spent with her husband and two children. Follow her on LinkedIn.