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MEGA Group Stresses Web, Product Mix At Show


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 last week 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 furniture 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
stores as complete home-furnishings resources. 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 below-furniture margins, Bellows said.

MEGA is also helping members build their businesses
with the creation of dealer support groups. The initiative,
conducted by JRM Sales & Management, will bring together
non-competing dealers with common issues and
product mixes in bi-annual four-day meetings to share
best practices and serve as sounding boards “in an environment
of total confidentiality and trust,” the group 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.”

Investments in print and online marketing have yielded
member “circulars and websites that look as good as anyone’s
in the country,” nd ongoing expenditures for web
development will yield “big initiatives” over the next two
years that will cement the group’s role as “the leader in
web marketing,” Bellows 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.