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MEGA Group Stresses Web, Product Mix At Spring Show

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.