Casey Hughes, KMunity facilitator, kicked off the first morning of RetailVision with a presentation called "The Retail Channel Needs Community to Remain in Balance."
Hughes, with the help of Keith Newman, facilitator at Newman Media, discussed how the communication needs of the IT industry have evolved over time, and how he feels there is a need for frequent "real-time dialogue" between people from various points within the industry. Hughes proposed the challenge of creating a "social network" to facilitate that type of communication and posed a question for members of the industry to answer: "How might we leverage the current resources we have each focused on in the IT channel and extend their value through such a community?"
Hughes' presentation was one of five that took place during the morning's vendor-targeted RetailVision University sessions. The University program featured a series of presentations intended to help vendors to better navigate the retail scene. Topics ranged from Hughes' social network proposition to more practical advice about product promotions and packaging.
Bruce Koenigsberg, president and CEO of Koenigsberg & Associates, followed Hughes and gave vendors advice about effectively promoting their products via in-store and online promotions. He touched on a number of steps he felt vendors need to take, including:
- pro-active planning;
- doing homework on reseller requirements;
- holiday promotions;
- limited time offers;
- mail-in rebates and instant rebates;
- soft bundles and hard bundles;
- in-store detailers or demo days;
- utilizing distributor salespeople and events; and
- consignment and guaranteed sales deals.
On a similar note, The Bellow Group's principal Steve Bellow later spoke about the importance of product image. He discussed the importance of packaging both from the perspective of the consumer and from a retail buyer. Among the primary reasons why retail buyers don't buy a product, he said, are packages that don't convey quality and don't clearly show the product's features and benefits, and designs that are not pleasing to the eye, "too busy" or are "not clean or upscale."
Bellow also discussed the need for instruction manuals to be easy to understand, to include illustrations and to avoid being "too technical."
Pat Reilley, merchandising director for Staples Canada, and Bernard Luthi, merchandising VP for Newegg.com, each provided an overview on their particular businesses and outlined what they look for in potential vendor partners and what they can offer them.