Home Improvement Centre (HiC)

Business Gateway Equips Isle of Lewis-based DIY Store with the Tools for Success

Innes and Yvonne, Home Improvement Centre

An Isle of Lewis-based DIY shop has enhanced its digital offering in response to the coronavirus outbreak and successfully grown its social media presence, after engaging with DigitalBoost, Scottish Government’s leading digital skills programme, delivered by Business Gateway.

Founded in 1981, Home Improvement Centre (HiC) is a one stop DIY store in the Outer Hebrides that has evolved from being a builders’ merchant to a vibrant shop that caters for the entire community.

After being met with supply chain difficulties due to manufacturer and wholesale closures during lockdown, business owners Yvonne and Innes adapted HiC’s offering to accommodate increased demand for their services, through skills that were developed by Scotland’s national digital training programme, DigitalBoost. This has resulted in the growth of HiC’s social media platforms by 1000 members since the start of lockdown.

Regular updates via Facebook and Instagram allowed Yvonne and Innes to continue trading throughout the pandemic and, with an entire country in lockdown, sales of products such as exterior paint hit a record high as the nation enjoyed prolonged spells of sunshine.

HiC benefited from 1:1 support from a DigitalBoost expert, received a free, comprehensive Digital Health Check to identify strengths and weaknesses across the business, and engaged with a variety of workshops.

Yvonne and Innes plan to continue utilising the skills and techniques developed through the DigitalBoost service to develop a new e-commerce website that will allow the business to reach even more customers in the Outer Hebrides and beyond.

Yvonne Mackay, business owner, HiC, said: "In an industry where human interaction and face-to-face customer and supplier relationships are key, it’s been interesting to watch the business switch to a digital way of working."

“These past weeks have shown that the need for a digital presence has never been more important and I’m grateful for the skills learned through the DigitalBoost programme, which have helped us navigate through a very challenging period for the business.

"DigitalBoost has helped us adapt and connect with our customers through social media and provide critical support and services to the community during this time. Identifying opportunities to stay connected while we remain socially distanced has been key to being able to continue trading throughout this difficult period."

Derek Maclean, Business Adviser, Business Gateway, said: "It’s great that the team at Home Improvement Centre have been able to adapt and continue trading despite the pressure COVID-19 has placed on almost every aspect of running a business."

"Virtual offerings and effective use of digital platforms will continue to be vital for businesses over the coming weeks and months, and the DigitalBoost programme is a useful package filled with free support services including one-to-one digital consultancy, a digital health check, access to webinars and guidance on switching current services online."

To find out more about Business Gateway and its services, please visit their website at https://www.bgateway.com/