It’s not in a gallery, but Nationwide Marketing Group’s (NMG) newest member tool is truly a work of art. A.R.T., to be precise. ART stands for Assortment Rationalization Tool, and TWICE caught up with Mike Collier, Sr. Director, Retail Merchandising and Steve Mahler, Director of POS Initiative for Nationwide to find out what makes this industry changing tool a game changer.
Nationwide Marketing Group has been collecting data to help members make sound merchandising decisions for several years, including point-of-sale (POS) data from NMG Members across the country. The data is hundreds of thousands of retail sales transactions by category, brand, SKU and price that NMG refers to as Retail Sales Analytics (RSA). By itself, all that data is just numbers, but that is where ART comes in.
“The ART tool lets a retailer or member see exactly how their product mix is performing and adapt,” Mahler told TWICE in an interview. “They can go in and see from the report they are pulling in PriMetrix not only how the share is looking in their area, but they can also see how the products they have on their floor are performing. And they can now see how much the products they are buying from vendors are costing them and how much margin they could make on other products that are similar within that area.”
“The ART tool is intended to easily help our Members ‘uncover the hidden patterns’, and provide valuable insights that will lead to profit for NMG members,” added Collier. “It hasn’t been done before, where someone outside of the realm of a box store is collecting the amount of data we’re collecting. With 5,000+ members, 14,000 locations, we have a huge chunk of members growing rapidly that are sharing their POS information with us so we can see high-level–without personal information…and pulling all that data together so can analyze and allow the members to compare their own performance, see trends and opportunities and potential areas they could capitalize on. The whole notion behind ART is an answer to “how do we get that data back to the members to shed some light on insights that will help their business?””
The reports members can generate with ART are customized to each member, with or without product pictures, using sell-in (shipment to Members) and sell-thru (retail POS data) to display. This helps to educate purchase decisions by efficiently looking at assortments from the six major categories (refrigeration, laundry, electric cooking, gas cooking, dishwashers, and freezers). Members can drill down even further and analyze 21 minor categories like French door refrigerators, top-freezer refrigerators, upright freezers, freestanding smooth-top electric ranges, gas cooktops and more.
“ART is very easy to use,” said Mahler, “it’s a tool that just gives you some Excel spreadsheets, along with images of the products, and it shows you exactly the models that you’re looking at, the models that you don’t have, and it gives you the estimated numbers for the margins that you can make on each product. It can also give you the number of units being sold within your area, so when you’re ordering, you can make sure that you’re incorporating the right amount of units if it’s a hot seller.”
The ART tool can also prove useful when members are looking to expand into other categories. “It helps them look at different categories,” added Mahler, “[If] they’re not selling appliances and they’re furniture based right now, they could see how well an appliance is doing and pick the best sellers and start small.”
“ART is super easy to read and easy to use,” Collier explained. “And it’s empowering 5,000+ members to have data to have meaningful conversations with the manufacturers to make requests, to ask for help, to make concessions through support or promotional funds, and they’ll have the data to prove why they need it and what other manufacturers are doing. It gives them a little bit of leverage.”
For those concerned with personal information security, ART is not interested in personal or similar sensitive data.There is absolutely no sharing or disclosure of personal information of any kind with this retail tool. “We take our member’s privacy seriously,” said Mahler. “We make sure that we’re not sharing any kind of personal data. We look at data in aggregate, and we anonymize every data point that comes across. That means we’re only looking at SKU level data, product categories, number of units sold, that kind of data. We’re not looking at any kind of personal data that would show what member it is…anything that would distinguish them from the group.”
Currently, ART is compatible with 25 POS systems, and NMG is continuing to expand that number as more members join the data sharing program. “Just because you have a POS partner that might not primarily work with Nationwide, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of the program,” Mahler told TWICE. “We also work with individual members that aren’t using a partnered POS, or have developed their own. A lot of our larger members have developed their own software, and we work with them on a daily basis as well.”
Additionally, the collaboration between Nationwide and Quickbooks allows members to keep track of their bookkeeping records–just as a POS system would–and that data can be shared as well. ART is web-based, so there is no special hardware to purchase or install. “Going web-based for a POS platform right now is definitely one of the most essential things that you could do, and it will keep your cost down,” said Mahler. “The ART Tool is industry changing, and we’re really proud of the tool we created and we think it’s the best in the industry. And it’s also the best tool for a member to use in terms of managing their business and keeping it successful and open in these times of COVID.”
“We wake up everyday thinking about how to help our members, how to make our members more profitable, how to increase our member’s revenue, how to help them reduce costs, and how to just keep them thriving,” Collier told TWICE. “We’re providing unbiased data that says, Mr. and Mrs. Member, you look at the data we’re providing for you and make the best decision for your business as possible.”
ART is included with membership, so no additional fees are required to sign up or access the reports once enrolled in the program. To get started with ART, members simply need to contact their Member Support Manager to sign up and start sharing their POS data to gain access to their customizable reports.
For more information, visit nationwidegroup.org.