Nationwide Marketing Group (NMG) marked its biannual PrimeTime event, being held in Las Vegas this week, by adding a big hammer to its toolbox: AT&T.
Members of the buying group for consumer tech, major appliance and bedding retailers will now have access to the entire suite of products and services offered by the telecom giant, structured in a program that’s specific to independent dealers, said Tom Hickman, Nationwide president, during his opening address at Opaline Theater in the Venetian. This will include mobile, DirecTV and in-home Internet, which he described as a $260 billion opportunity that doesn’t require members to carry extra inventory.
In addition to bringing in new, younger customers, the relationship was formed because it’s crucial in being successful in selling the smart home, said Hickman. “How are you going to sell connected home if your consumer doesn’t have a big pipe?”
See also: PrimeTime Gets Underway By Giving Back
Providing a brief recap on 2018, Hickman described the previous year as “incredible” for NMG members, with sales up in all three core categories: CE, majaps and bedding. The group will continue to push its members’ digital capabilities — an area he recognized as challenging for many sellers.
“Digital is hard,” Hickman acknowledged. “It’s complicated, and you’ve got it get it right. But it’s one of the most transparent ways to bring footprints to your stores.”
As part of these efforts, Nationwide is leveraging its investment in digital marketing agency Retailer Web Services (RWS) for a new program offering additional member discounts on RWS services.
Under the program, titled Nationwide Digital Rewards, dealers can access an all-in-one digital solution for their businesses, including a WebFronts Level 4 website, WebFronts Review reputation management software and AdRocket digital advertising, starting at $999 per month.
Nationwide also announced a new partnership with CoAdvantage that provides retailers with support and savings for healthcare, payroll and human resources. Finding time to adequately deal with these back-end services is something Nationwide members had been asking for, Hickman told TWICE.
“We were so impressed with them, we actually signed up with them ourselves,” he added.
NMG dealers are now also premium members of Independent We Stand, an alliance network that connects retailers with other locally owned businesses for such things as catering during events or maintenance work on a storefront.
Dave Ridley, a retired Southwest Airlines operations senior VP with 27 years under his belt, followed Hickman with a keynote address in which he likened the pain points of the airline industry to those of retailers. In both environments, focusing on employees is what has the power to make or break a business, no matter the size or scope, was Ridley’s message.
“Your No. 1 customer is not the person who hands you their credit card,” said Ridley. “It’s your employee. … Create an environment where people feel welcome, appreciated and cared for … and they will go out of their way to make your customers feel welcome, appreciated and cared for.”
It’s a theme expected to resonate deeply with those in the audience and at PrimeTime this week. When asked by TWICE about one of the biggest challenges currently facing NMG members, Hickman cited the cost of hiring and retaining talented employees in this competitive job market.
In order to aid its members with these — and many other — challenges, Nationwide’s Learning Academy series of educational sessions are being held throughout the entire length of the show. Sessions range from marketing strategies and video tips to vendor-specific sessions from Bosch, Samsung and Electrolux, among other manufacturers.
At “Google 101: Reach Customers Online With Google,” Randi Penfiel, an official Google trainer, walked attendees through the importance of having an online presence that’s discoverable by the search engine. In addition to detailing how retailers can set up Google Verified listings, she reviewed search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, the importance of having images, and even how to respond to negative online reviews. (Key takeaway: Never respond in all caps!)
See also: Help Wanted: Ark Builders Needed