While consumers are finally enjoying a “return to normal” in a lot of ways, many retailers are still dealing with issues that emerged over the course of the pandemic—including price increases, delays in product availability and more. As retailers look to navigate this current moment, buying groups and associations can offer a vital lifeline. From logistics and supply chain to marketing and merchandising, these organizations provide their members with the resources, discounts and support they need to thrive in this ever-changing marketplace.
How are you helping retailers manage pricing and supply issues while still creating the best experience for their customers?
Andrew Kauffman | CEO | Furniture First
In times of hardship or economic uncertainty, the cornerstone that Furniture First was built on becomes more important than ever. That cornerstone is Member Networking, partnered with our members’ strong relationship to our staff. No one could have predicted the impact the pandemic had in the early stages of development because each state was handling it differently. Consequently, no one could have forecast the once in a lifetime boon to our industry that is still occurring now. Our ability to keep our members connected has helped them at every turn by keeping them informed and providing strategies that were successfully adopted by their fellow members. I don’t know how any furniture retailer who is not part of an association or Buying Group has weathered the storm of price increases, material shortages and both land and ocean freight issues. Our members are extremely focused on in-store experience. We have multiple Retailer of the Year winners in our group. Each of our members tries very hard to put their own “hometown charm” into why they are different and better than their competition. They foster a family atmosphere, and we consistently see them recognize their team members length of service. Employees don’t stay where they aren’t wanted or appreciated. Our members understand the customer experience starts with the experience the store is giving to their staff. The teamwork needed to get through this last year and a half just amplified the awesome experience guests were having before the pandemic.
Michael Derro | VP, Furniture & Bedding | Nationwide Marketing Group
By continuously creating opportunities to educate and engage our retailers. Nationwide Marketing Group’s Furniture & Bedding division delivers weekly updates on any pricing and supply issues directly to our Member Support Managers (MSMs), along with recommendations that members can execute at their stores to ensure the best possible customer experience. The MSMs then share that information directly with their members, ensuring a constant and consistent flow of information. Because today’s customers are experiencing longer-than-normal wait times for home goods due to the supply chain challenges brought on by the pandemic, the Nationwide team recently introduced two new programs that focus specifically on in-stock goods. The first is Pick 5. Each month, the F&B team highlights five vendor partners that are offering an exclusive discount to NMG members on in-stock goods. We email our members with more information on these vendors and include a link to each vendor’s monthly special, as well as a video that gives more details about each company. The second new initiative is the NMG Marketplace. Inspired by Palooza, where great sales opportunities reside at every PrimeTime, this online platform makes similar deals available to retailers all year long. With just a few clicks, retailers can take advantage of in-stock items from flash sales, discontinued lines or high-inventory products at a great price. And they can buy them from their computer or even their phone. NMG Marketplace launched in June and is now available for all NMG vendor partners to promote and list their products for sale.
Seth Weisblatt | Director Of Merchandising, Home Furnishings | BrandSource
AVB Marketing, the advertising and ecommerce arm of the AVB/BrandSource buying group, is staying on top of the industry’s pricing and supply issues by conducting weekly conversations with all the leading bedding providers. We have a unique partnership with each company to work through any changes, at the highest level, to ensure that our retailers’ websites and marketing campaigns are accurate and compliant. In addition, we see important opportunities for our members in the range of new product lines rolling out. This is a great time to be in the bedding business and AVB Marketing is well-positioned to help independent retailers take advantage of the fast-moving marketplace.