MEGA Group Stresses Web, Product Mix At Spring Show

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Orlando, Fla. - Online marketing and a diversified product mix were among the top takeaways from MEGA Group USA's biannual convention and buy fair.

The four-day event, themed "Igniting Your Profits," concluded here yesterday at the Marriott World Center, but not before drawing a strong turnout of the buying group's furniture, appliance and CE members. Many said they were here looking for deals, as well as ways to enhance their online and in-store operations.

To help with the former, a full contingent of majap makers exhibited at the buy fair, including show-floor anchors Electrolux, GE Appliance and Whirlpool, as well as Crosley, Danby and Fisher & Paykel.

Other leading white-goods brands, such as Bosch and Samsung, were represented by MEGA distributing partner Almo Corp.

CE was shared on the exhibit floor by Almo, showing Panasonic and Sharp, and MEGA's other two-step fulfillment partner DSI Systems, which provides LG, Mitsubishi and Toshiba products, among other brands, to group members.

Occupying the balance of the show floor were furniture and mattress manufacturers, which reflected the group's sales mix of 65 percent furniture, 30 percent appliances and 5 percent CE.

Together those categories generate more than $3.5 billion in sell-through for MEGA, although group president and chief majap merchant Rick Bellows said the officially stated tally is conservative following the recent additions of several very larger dealers.

Also adding to MEGA's revenues is the resurgence of the mattress business, which has become the group's biggest growth category, Bellows said. Indeed, MEGA urged all of its CE and appliance members to consider adding mattresses to their product mix. "It's a great category and every dealer we have put it in has been successful," he noted.

Conversely, "Furniture dealers need to look at CE," noted Jim Sendrak, VP of MEGA's electronics division. "It may only be 15 or 20 points, but it's an add-on sale."

MEGA, along with Whirlpool, has also created an easy, turnkey entrée into appliances for non-majap dealers. The Whirlpool Appliance Gallery, first introduced at the Las Vegas Furniture Market, is a flexible, 800- to 1,000-square-foot display area featuring signage and a carefully merchandised selection to help position furniture dealers as a complete home-furnishings resource. Terms, delivery and training are pre-arranged, and the increased traffic, higher turns and greater sales-per-square foot generated by the brand-name appliances compensates for their lower-than-furniture margins, Bellows said.

Meanwhile on the digital front, the group built upon on its five-year-old WebFronts e-commerce program by holding educational workshops and training in social media and online advertising and marketing. It also introduced at the show a new social-networking service called Social Extend, provided by online marketing firm NetSertive, which updates dealers' Facebook pages with news, videos, photos, special events, recipes and other elements from up to 10 vendors for $99 a month.

"It's no longer just about product acquisition," Bellows said. "Anyone can get a good price. But it's also about operational issues and driving traffic, and what we can do to make our members more competitive."

MEGA continues to invest in dealer web development and is planning "big initiatives" over the next two years to cement its role as "the leader in web marketing," Belloww said.

MEGA was formed in 1996 from elements of the old Key America buying group after several regional leaders determined that a chapter-based approach was "dysfunctional," Bellows said. Following a brief stint under the Nationwide umbrella, the group has since mushroomed from 75 members to its current 1,600 retailer roster, representing 3,000 storefronts largely located in the Eastern half of the country.

MEGA will hold its next convention Sept. 6-9 at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville.


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