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RFP Warehouse Connects Trading Partners


Perhaps nothing brings more excitement and anxiety in the at-retail merchandising and marketing industry than responding to a retailer or manufacturer issued RFP. We have all had good and bad experiences with the process, and at times wished there was a better way. One thing is for sure, when it comes to getting some great new business, we all want a chance to show what we can do and how our company fits the proposal.

Another common issue that members come across is the great variety of ways that RFPs are issued and the disparity in what is required to respond. Many times, it feels like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. World Alliance for Retail Excellence & Standards is about to help with these issues as part of seven key programs to be launched with its new website. The new web presence will be launched soon.

The RFP Warehouse will provide opportunity for companies issuing RFPs to link directly to Association member companies interested in responding to the project criteria. Membership is not required to post an RFP, but only members can search for and elect to be notified about upcoming business opportunities. It is a great benefit of membership.

The Retailer and Manufacturer Advisory Councils are currently working alongside the association team to develop standards for the RFP process in our industry category. The Association and its leadership believe that a standardized system will take the guesswork out of the process and give a clear view as to the companies that best fit the opportunity.

The RFP Warehouse is being designed as the definitive resource for responding to opportunities. There will be links to information on writing RFPs, responding to RFPs and more. Members will also have the ability to opt-in for email notifications when new ones are posted.

Retailers and manufacturers are looking for ways to simplify the process to validate the companies they choose to do business with. In the future, the RFP Warehouse will compliment and work in concert with the Gold Standard Certification process. Certification will eventually become an important part of qualifying for new business.

Performance Showcase to Enhance Member Profiles


In an enhanced effort to bring more attention to the skills and abilities of our members, World Alliance for Retail Excellence & Standards will be including a Performance Showcase as part of seven key programs to launch with our new website. These seven steps where recently previewed at the Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC). The new website is in final stages of development and will be ready soon.

Information for this section will come directly from our member profiles, but will be an energized version of the current expanded company listing. Members will be able to update most areas of their profile without any administrative assistance by simply signing in.

The Performance Showcase ties in directly with your status on Gold Standard Certification and provides background information on your company in such areas as: channel experience, geo service area, service specialization, examples of past work, company size, workforce statistics, service type, official registration type, HQ and division location, years in service, industry/SIC and key contact information.

Potential customers can find your Showcase by using a search function that will include much more information than currently available. There will also be an endorsement feature so your clients can endorse your performance for others to see.

The whole idea is to give retailers and manufacturers the tools they need to find the right service company to match the right opportunity while improving your chances to gain that business. Also, the Performance Showcase will allow the Association to raise the profile and importance of at-retail merchandising and marketing activities in the retail environment.

The Association is in the middle of an extensive research and development transition in regards to several key initiatives all designed to give you, the members, greater value and relevancy. We are counting on your patience, involvement and cooperation as together we shape the future of our industry.

RMMC Provides Preview to New Training Platform


Attendees of the just concluded Retail Merchandising & Marketing Conference (RMMC) presented by World Alliance for Retail Excellence & Standards received a sneak preview of seven key programs that will launch on the new website. The launch of that site will be announced shortly. We discussed one of those programs, Gold Standard Certification, in our Top Shelf blog this week. Today we will take a look at another: An enhanced Online Training Platform with over 80 courses projected for all levels and disciplines of at-retail merchandising and marketing service companies.

CertifyU has been a valuable online learning center for our association for the past several years and will continue to offer career-building courses with certificates for the at-retail direct and independent workforce.

The Association is working on an expanded, robust training platform featuring a course catalog with an ever-expanding selection of online courses customized to the retail industry. These courses are being put together in conjunction with industry experts, affiliate faculty and staff to meet the needs of retail worldwide. Members will be able to purchase an annual contract with unlimited seats and courses. Individuals will be able to purchase monthly access with a specified number of courses available.

As an enabling resource, World Alliance staff is in discussions with the IGA Coca-Cola Institute. The Institute serves more than 5,000 businesses with innovative blended training programs including online courses, classroom training, coaching, mentoring, literature review and support programs.

Our Association is in the middle of an extensive research and development transition in regards to several key initiatives all designed to give you, the members, greater value and relevancy. We are counting on your patience, involvement and cooperation as together we shape the future of our industry.

Independent Grocers Provide Huge Impact


As the members of World Alliance for Retail Excellence & Standards descend on Scottsdale for the Retail Merchandising & Marketing Conference (RMMC), a new study by the National Grocers Association (NGA) reminds us of the importance of independent grocers. This groundbreaking research provides a clear picture of the key role independent grocers play and can be accessed via a new website,

The research was conducted by John Dunham and Associates, an economic and government relations research firm. The report provides independent grocers and wholesalers sales, jobs created, wages paid, and federal and state taxes paid. The study also measures the indirect impact and ripple effect of the independent channel on other industries.

Key findings of the report:

-20,884 stores are operated by independent supermarket companies in every congressional district of the United States.

-Independent grocers are responsible for $129.5 billion in annual sales.

-In total, independent grocers account for close to 1 percent of the total US economy, as determined by GDP.

-Independent grocers employ 944,200 people, and pay over $30 billion in wages each year.

-An additional 569,380 jobs are created through re-spending of those wages or companies which support the supermarket industry.

The members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry provide sales building services in all channels of trade and independent grocery retailers are no exception. Manufacturers and chains alike depend on our members to supplement their staffs to provide new item cut-ins, remodel services, category resets, compliance audits, display building, sampling and demo services just to name a few.

We thank GMA for passing along this information and remind independent grocers and their suppliers that World Alliance for Retail Excellence & Standards is here to help them continue to deliver a high level of service to their consumers and the economy.

Accenture Study Says Seamless Important to Consumers

April 18, 2013 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Friday Focus, What's in store


It is a retail reality that consumers of today do not differentiate between shopping in the store, online or via a mobile device when evaluating the experience. They are seeking a seamless shopping experience and when retailers and manufacturers delivery, they are rewarded with loyalty and increased sales.

A recent Chain Store Age story reported on The Accenture Seamless Retail Study that found almost all consumers (94 percent) find the in-store shopping experience easy. Seventy-four percent found online shopping easy, and only 26 percent found mobile phone shopping to be easy.

Almost half of those surveyed said they think retailers need to better integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping channels. Eighty-nine percent of consumers said it is important for retailers to let them shop the way they want regardless of channel.

Because of this, they are looking for consistency. Seventy-three percent expect online pricing to be the same as in-store pricing, and 61 percent want promotions to be the same. In actual practice, 73 percent did offer the same promotions, but only 16 percent offered the same price. Forty-three percent of consumers said they wanted the same product assortment, but only 19 percent actually offered the same assortment between traditional and online channels.

In-store is still very important to consumers, but so is the way that multi-channel is integrated into the mix. Falling down in one area will negatively impact trading partners in sales and market share.

As members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing industry, it is easy to get discouraged by reports of increasing activity in on-line and mobile shopping. However, the landscape of at-retail seems to be changing, not going away. The bottom line is that the members of World Alliance for Retail Excellence & Standards can be of great service to their retailers and manufacturer partners in achieving a true seamless experience.

In related news, The Retailer Merchandising & Marketing Conference (RMMC) is right around the corner. Click here for more information and to register.

Board of Directors Ballots Close April 12


If you have not yet voted, there is still time for your voice to be heard by participating in the ballot for three open positions on the World Alliance for Retail Excellence & Standards Board of Directors. Each company member will be able to vote only once. Electronic ballots were emailed to the primary/designated contacts, one per each member company. Voting must take place before April 12. Ballots will be counted just prior to the Retail Merchandising & Marketing Conference (RMMC) April 27-30 in Scottsdale and will be announced during the annual meeting of the members during the event.

Here are the nominees and a brief bio for each; all of these candidates have been approved by the Nominating Committee.

Carlos Roca, CEO/President, Merchandise & Audit Services, Inc.: With over 38 years of experience in sales, marketing, marketing research and distribution, Roca founded MAAS Inc. in 1996; being the first MSO company in Puerto Rico to attain full automation. With a vast knowledge of the Caribbean, Central and Latin American markets, he played a key role in recruiting Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising and its network of agencies into the region; launched Cover Girl and Noxzema and also introduced AC Nielsen into the Puerto Rico market. As a valued member of NARMS/World Alliance for the past 15 years, he has graciously served on the MSO Committee for five years, three years as MSO Co-Chairman, and over the last two years as a member of the Board Directors. At present he continues to preside at MAAS Inc. and is a partner in Consumer & Site, the largest mystery shopper firm in Puerto Rico and HCMS, a brokerage firm that represents lines like V-Tech Toys.

Aaron Simms, Director of Sales Merchandising, Ghirardelli Chocolate Company: Aaron Sims has spent his entire 20 year career with food manufacturers Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, Kraft Foods, M&M/Mars. Simms has experience leading customer marketing teams; headquarter selling teams and most recently starting the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company national retail sales team. Simms is committed to ensuring retail execution of strategy objectives, ensuring best of class in-store conditions in providing validated in-store retailer services. He is a valued member the last two years, and without hesitation, graciously volunteered to serve the association as the Manufacturer Chair under our association transition.

Steve Workman, Vice President Business Development, SPAR Group, Inc. /Market Force Information: Steve Workman is the Vice President Business Development for Market Force Information, just recently acquired by SPAR Group, Inc. Steve brings over 19 years of experience within the Retail Service Industry. He has owned and operated a regional company (Force One), still a member today, and served as an executive for four mid-size national service organizations, Gage Merchandising (formerly PIMMS), National Marketing Services, bds marketing, and currently with MFI and now SPAR. Workman attended and participated in the very first NARMS meeting in 1994 in Arizona. He has been an active member of the Association for 17 years. He has been a Conference Presenter and served on the MSO committee for 4 years before becoming Co-Chair in 2007. Workman served on the Board Nominating Committee in January 2010 after his election to the Board of Directors in December of 2009.

Bud Lowell, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Partner - Carlin O’Brien Food Brokerage: Bud Lowell currently sits on the IFBA committee for leadership and direction for our Independent Food Broker members. Lowell has been an active participant in the IFBA Top to Top Conferences since May of 2005. He serves as the Team Lead for Carlin O’Brien in calling on Supervalu Headquarters since 2006. The firm is the largest independent food broker calling on Supervalu. They have clients in Grocery, Confection, Dairy, GM/HBC, and Meat categories. Carlin O’Brien is an active participant in the Supervalu Home-Store program for independent retailer initiatives mandated by retailer and wholesaler customers. The company, the largest Independent Food Broker in the Upper Midwest with offices in nine states from the Dakotas to Ohio, has been an active member of the IFBA/NARMS since 2004.

Make sure to vote before April 12 and attend RMMC to see the results. Here is a link to the official conference website.

RMMC Rate at Scottsdale Plaza Resort Expires Today


If you have registered, or are planning on registering for the 2013 Retail Merchandising & Marketing Conference (RMMC) presented by World Alliance for Retail Excellence & Standards, then today is the day to book your accommodation to take advantage of the preferential rate of $150/room per night.

The Scottsdale Plaza is a warm and inviting hotel with all the amenities you expect of a world class resort, and your room will be located within walking distance to all conference activities. The relaxing choice among Scottsdale Resorts, warm and inviting, the Valley of the Sun beckons. Lush palms and golf greens grace the stunning backdrop of red desert rock. Turquoise pools sparkle within flower-adorned courtyards.

Among the Resort Amenities:

- Centrally located within Scottsdale Resort community
- 40 beautifully landscaped acres in the shadow of famed Camelback Mountain
- 404 Guestrooms - including 180 elegant suites
- Five Swimming Pools
- Lighted Tennis Courts
- Fitness Center with Maxim & Precor Equipment Fitness Center
- The Largest Whirlpool Spa in Arizona
- Award-Winning Dining
- High-Speed Internet Connection

Awaken your senses and pamper your soul with the finest in spa treatments at The Salon & Day Spa at The Scottsdale Plaza Resort. Offering a complete and varied menu of relaxing massages, skin care treatments, body treatments, and a full accompaniment of hair and nail services, The Salon & Day Spa at The Scottsdale Plaza Resort will complete any stay, leaving you refreshed and rejuvenated.

The group rate for this beautiful resort is valid only until the end of the day. After today, reservations will be accepted on a space availability basis, and this deeply discounted rate may not be available to you. You can reserve by either calling the Scottsdale Plaza Resort at 800-832-2025 or by clicking here to get to the online Registration Link. Please make sure you identify yourself as an attendee of the Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference in order to obtain the preferred rate.

Insights on the Top 100 Retailers and Categories


Good information is all around us. It comes in many different forms and is used for different functions, but if we keep our antennae up, we can find helpful, business building data almost every day. Some comes in the form of sophisticated analytics, some from observation and others simply be reading and listening. Today, we are sharing a report by DSN Retailing Today called Insights 2013. This is an annual publication that is a statistical analysis of the Top 100 retailers and categories in one easy-to-read format. It is a must have for your keeper pile or briefcase. The report uses data compiled by Nielsen.

The publication starts with the Top 10 retailers and brief descriptions of the key moves they have made to put and keep themselves in that position. Among them are Wal-Mart Stores, The Kroger Company, Costco, Walgreens, The Home Depot, Target Corp. CVS Caremark, Best Buy, Lowes Cos. and There is also a published list of the Top 100.

The categories portion begins with a summary of the dynamics that affect category growth and the habits of the most successful CPG companies. The Top 100 product categories list includes sales figures for two years stated in both dollar sales and units. The Top 10 categories according to the report are: Fresh Produce, Carbonated Beverages, Snacks, Paper Products, Bread and Baked Goods, Packaged Meat, Cheese, Candy, Prepared Foods and Pet Food.

Nielsen also provides a list of the fastest growing categories. Among the Top 10 are: Coffee, Jams/Jellies/Spreads, Nuts, Light Bulbs/Phone Accessories, Yogurt, Flour, Frangrances, Vitamins, Liquor and Pet Care.

As practitioners of at-retail merchandising and marketing services, the members of World Alliance for Retail Excellence & Standards must always monitor the information around us. To add to your information deck, download Insights 2013 by clicking here.

Another way to stay on top of all things at-retail is to attend the Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) to be held April 27-30 at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort. You can click here to access the official conference website for more information and to register. One important reminder: Time is running out to take advantage of the substantially reduced room rate of $ 150/ night. Reserve your room before April 4th to obtain the group rate!

Association to Tee it Up for Enactus


Each year, the Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) tees off on the golf course! This year, our Annual Golf Charity Scramble will benefit Enactus, (formerly SIFE, Students in Free Enterprise). The staff and members of World Alliance for Retail Excellence & Standards invite you to join us at a top 10 rated Arizona golf course for fun and friendly competition, exercise, networking and most importantly, to raise funds for Enactus.

The Golf Charity Scramble will be held on Sunday, April 28th at 7:00am at the stunning Eagle Mountain Golf Club rated one of the top 10 Best Luxury and Best Overall Golf Courses in Arizona. Golf registration is $ 145 per golfer and includes green fees, cart, lunch, a sleeve of golf balls - provided by Enactus, and a golf towel - sponsored by Natural Insight.

This conference is the only event specifically directed at the importance and improvement of the retail services sector. Attending retailers and manufacturers include - The Home Depot, Lego Systems Inc., Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, Nintendo of America, Dickies Corporation, Hallmark Cards, HanesBrands and more are registering daily.

Speakers include - Robin Lewis, The Robin Report; Lily Lev-Glick, Shopper Sense; Gerry O’Brion, What Big Brands Know; Matt Herlevic, Sam’s Club; Dee Warmath, The NPD Group, Inc.; and a top-notch panel of Retail Marketing leaders. You can click here for additional information on the speakers.

April is one of the best times to be in Arizona and the Scottsdale Plaza Resort is awaiting your arrival. Call the Resort directly at 800-832-2025 and reserve your room today! When registering for your room (prior to April 4th), mention this event and receive a $150/night room rate. For additional information about the resort, click here.

The Association is excited to be reaching out to Enactus for collaboration this year and in the years to come. Join us for the weekend golf scramble, and for the entire conference if possible, to engage with other retailers and manufacturers as we collaborate and determine how best to promote and validate retail service that enhances brands and improves customer experience through retail excellence and standards.

CFOs Still Value U.S. Expansion


Would you like to be able to read the minds of 100 chief financial officers at leading retailers throughout the country? Well, maybe you can. This week, a story in Chain Store Age reported on the findings of the seventh-annual BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs. The findings are good news for the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry.

The main point of the story is that retail executives still consider U.S. stores the core of their business. Thirty percent of the CFOs said that U.S. expansion will be their priority growth tactic in 2013. Others include improving merchandising assortment at 24 percent, and e-commerce and mobile commerce at 22 percent. Here are some other key findings:

-Thirty-four percent said that they will be looking to add staff, both in-store and HQ.

- Among risks to their business identified by CFOs, 34 percent said that federal, state and local regulations top the list. Another 32 percent said competition and consolidation. Other risks are foreign supplier and vendor issues, data security and geopolitical events.

- Thirty-two percent said that they plan to invest most of their capital in advertising and promotions. Twenty-nine percent said they will invest in e-commerce. Twenty-six percent said redesigning and remodeling stores.

The findings of the survey and the story underline that, although retail executives see the opportunity in foreign markets and e-commerce, they have not forgotten their core competency and have not abandoned the store. Rather, there seems to be a definite movement toward providing a true omni-channel experience to their customers.

It is up to the members of World Alliance of Retail Excellence & Standards to make sure that our at-retail services align with these priorities. One way to do that is to attend the Retail Merchandising & Marketing Conference (RMMC). Click here to visit the official RMMC website and register today.