The Nationwide Marketing Group has made a capital investment in long-time supplier Retailer Web Services (RWS), a 12-year-old provider of e-commerce, digital marketing and web design solutions developed exclusively for independent hardlines dealers.
Nationwide, the $18.5 billion buying and marketing group, said the investment will help accelerate the release of RWS’s new automated digital marketing solution, dubbed AdRocket, and is part of a larger effort to deliver an end-to-end digital marketing platform for independent retailers.
“With over 90 percent of shoppers in our members’ categories researching online to select a store, our members must have the best tools available to level the playing field,” said Tom Hickman, Nationwide’s newly-appointed president.
The capital infusion follows the group’s recent acquisition of website developer Site on Time, which was announced earlier this year.
RWS said the investment will tightly integrate its solution suite with Nationwide’s digital platform to provide members with “a complete digital marketing toolset.”
The company has long provided digital marketing services to Nationwide, and served as the backbone of the online initiatives of rival Mega Group USA, which merged with Nationwide last fall.
RWS remains privately-held, and Nationwide’s investment “does not require any exclusivity,” founder/CEO Jim Kane said.
Its new AdRocket digital marketing solution is designed to address the wildly varying “quality, execution and reporting” of digital ads, said COO Jennie Gilbert, and provide dealers with more effective digital campaigns.
The funding underscores the race by independent dealer organizations to give their members digital parity with Amazon and multichannel big-box chains. Rival buying group AVB/BrandSource plans to unveil a new website platform at its Spring Summit next month that AVB Technology president Dave Meekings described as “a game changer.”
The completely redesigned site was built to generate greater dealer visibility, and to provide cutting-edge analytics and management tools to exploit opportunities and “seamlessly integrate with the group’s … digital marketing initiatives,” BrandSource said.
Similarly, Appliance Dealers Cooperative (ADC), a chapter of the NECO collective of regional Northeast buying groups, has created its own software platform that includes inventory, competitive pricing, website design and digital marketing and advertising functions, executive director and CEO Ken Miele relayed to TWICE.
“It’s a game changer,” he said.