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Shopper Marketing and Shopper-Centric Begin with Shopper

June 5, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Top Shelf


As the members of NARMS execute highly targeted and specific at-retail merchandising and marketing programs in-store, it is sometimes easy to forget who the ultimate customer is in the transaction. After all, they are being hired by either a retailer or a manufacturer to carry out necessary promotional or operational shelf-level activities. The trading partners are certainly the clients and they pay the bills, but it is important to remember that none of it works without the shopper.

In the May issue of Times & Trends by SymphonyIRI, the author examines the fact that the shopper is in control at retail. The marketplace has changed from a product focused business to a shopper focused business driven by a couple of key developments. The availability of multi-channel options gives the consumer many more choices on where to go and that is enhanced by social and mobile communications platforms.

By understanding the way that our clients are starting to look at the consumer, we can better understand and meet those needs. The shopping experience is becoming a highly personalized and intimate relationship. SymphonyIRI has some advice for trading partners on how to approach this shift. These strategies revolve around Shopper Marketing, Product Marketing and In-Store Marketing.

The In-Store Marketing component depends heavily on an inventory management system that reflects best shopper trip missions and reducing out-of-stocks in those key areas. That is just one specific example of how just about every decision made in the board room directly impacts operations at the shelf, and ultimately the relationship with the consumer. Keeping the customer relationship out front in your conversations with trading partners can help you demonstrate why they need to work with you to carry their shopper marketing initiatives all the way to its intended target. You can download the SymphonyIRI report here.

White Paper Reports Sharp Increases in Cap Ex

May 29, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Top Shelf


Capital Expenditures among retail companies are of major interest to the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry. It is from this pot of money that retailers reinvest in their business in the form of technology, opening new stores and remodeling existing stores. Many members of NARMS, especially those in the Professional Installation Companies (PIC) Division, play an integral role in helping chains get new stores opened and old stores looking new.

According to a new white paper by Colliers International, as reported on by Chain Store Age, retail companies are making sharp increases in capital expenditure budgets for 2012. Retailers are using a good share of these funds to upgrade stores and open new stores. The report also sees a rise in experimenting with smaller prototypes. That is an extension of a trend seen in the last 18 months and could result in tremendous business opportunities for companies who go into a location and build-out stores from the floor up, walls in and ceiling down.

Obviously that is good news, but it is where the tech investments are going that might be even better. The report says that the technological investments are being made toward systems that better integrate all sales channels. They are looking for a multi-channel experience that becomes highly personalized in-store. This shopper experience offers a contrast, and yet still is an extension of the growing on-line experience.

What does all this mean? It means physical changes to the at-retail environment. Those physical changes need to be done on-time; on-budget and often times while the retailer is still open for business. The members of the PIC Division bring expertise and experience to the process of opening new stores. These agents of change help retail customers get the most out of there Cap Ex budgets and they do it in an efficient, safe and customer friendly manner.


Mobile Has a Different Meaning at Grocery

May 22, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Top Shelf


The intuitive thinking in retail is that mobile and smart phone applications are harmful to bricks and mortar retail outlets. There is little doubt that widespread use presents a challenge to mass merchants and specialty channels like electronics that are seeing an upswing in so-called scan and scram shopping behavior. In these channels, consumers are price checking and then buying elsewhere, often right on-line. But mobile grocery is a different matter. At grocery, people shop with their phones, not on their phones. This marks a critical difference to the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service community.

A recent column in Advertising Age does a good job of putting mobile grocery into perspective and helps build the value proposition of excellent execution of at-retail marketing and operational activities. At food retailers, apps are being developed as tools to help shoppers find deals and enhance the physical shopping experience, not replace it. The story cites a survey from Omnicom that says 65 percent of shoppers use phones to find in-store promotions. Making shopping lists and locating products are also high priorities.

The story also describes some very sophisticated apps that sync the consumer shopping list with the store layout to help organize the trip. Some apps automatically attach available coupons or promotions on the items. Other apps allow you to scan your items and skip the checkout line altogether.

Grocery is truly innovating the way people shop their stores by accepting mobile as a tool and not a competitor. The sky is the limit for the brand marketing possibilities. The same holds true for the members of NARMS. Consumers having technology at hand shrinks the margin for error at-retail to almost nothing. The immediate gratification factor has to be met by shelf conditions that match the app, or the consumer can quickly find a replacement for the product and eventually for the store. It is something to think about and listen for as you are consulting with your CPG and retail customers.


Association Welcomes New Board Members

May 15, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2012, Top Shelf

One more piece of Association business to tell you about today that comes out of the 2012 Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC). At its annual business meeting, NARMS announced four new directors to the board and thanked departing members for their years of service. This new slate of directors will join the existing board in shaping a new direction for NARMS and providing leadership during a transition that will see a new headquarters staff and a change of location to Broomfield, Colorado.

The gathering recognized the outstanding contributions of departing Board Chair Mary Jo Bastuba of Nintendo, departing Vice Chair Ethan Charas of Stratmar Retail Services and Phil Karl of Performance Sales & Marketing Associates. The current Executive Committee of the Board of Directors will feature new Chair Steve Donzelli of Chuck Latham Associates, new Vice Chair Ed Martin of The Beam Team, new Secretary Jim Hall of Riteway Sales & Marketing and new Treasurer Gregg Morrison of TouchPoint 360.

New members elected to their first term on the board include John Gillis of Action Retail Services, Stefan Midford of Natural Insight and Julie Nichols of Nichols and Associates. Jerry O’Brien, of the University of Wisconsin Kohl’s Department Store Center for Retailing Excellence was elected to his second term.

Jim Fulk of RMSe will fill the vacant seat of Kelly Hampton, who recently resigned from the board. He received the next highest amount of votes and fills the opening based on provisions in NARMS By-Laws. Fulk will fill the last year of the term and will have the opportunity to be elected for a second term. Meeting attendees also took some time to thank Hampton for her service and leadership.

The NARMS Board of Directors will next meet in Broomfield on June 19-20. In the meantime, please contact them or the NARMS staff with any concerns, questions or ideas that you may have for the very exciting weeks, months and years ahead. The next election will take place via ballot just prior to the 2013 RMMC and the results will be announced at the annual business meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 27-20, 2013.


Multichannel Survey Puts Premium on At-Retail

May 8, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under Top Shelf


Chain Store Age ran a story on the Multichannel Shopping Survey by Hybris that found 80 percent of consumers are more likely to become loyal shoppers if retailers offer a highly integrated multichannel experience. The survey found that 39 percent of those surveyed buy more goods on-line than in-store and 46 percent plan to do so during the 2012 holiday season.

This does not mean the end for brick-and-mortar. It does however raise the stakes on executing at-retail merchandising and marketing initiatives to ensure that time spent in the store is maximized. Even while in-store, the consumer is engaged in multichannel as 19 percent say they browse their mobile device while they shop. They compare prices (66 percent), compare product choices (27 percent) and read recommendations by other shoppers (7 percent).

The risk of the consumer leaving the store empty-handed has increased because they no longer have the uncertainty of the product they seek being available elsewhere. If they do leave, the product and the retailer take a significant hit to their sales and market share. Do not forget that if the consumer leaves the store, they are apt to tell their friends about the bad experience. We know that these conversations are no longer limited to a small circle of friends, but can number into the thousands or more via social media.

Out-of-stocks, poorly presented products or missing POP can force the consumer to seek trial of another product. Multichannel shopping has significantly reduced the margin for error on at-retail execution. It just does not make sense to trust these important duties to overworked and inexperienced store staffs or sales representatives whose time is better spent selling. The services offered by the members of NARMS are more important than ever.


2013 RMMC Taking Shape

May 1, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2012, Top Shelf


One of the many exciting developments to come out of the 2012 Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) was the announcement and further information about the 2013 event. If you were not able to attend in Tampa, there are three things you should know about the 2013 RMMC. The event will take place at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort, the dates are April 27-30, 2013 and Ron Apel has been named Conference Chair for the event.

The choice of location is in large part because of the feedback given by members concerning environment, price range and travel considerations. The Scottsdale Plaza Resort has received many accolades for its outstanding service and quality accommodations throughout the years. The resort is recognized as one of the premium meeting facilities in North America, is reasonably priced and is located just a few minutes from the Phoenix airport.

Ron Apel, CEO of Ex Sell Sales and Merchandising Canada, has been named to the role of Conference Chair for the 2013 RMMC. He is a serial entrepreneur and brings a tremendous about of energy and enthusiasm into this new role. Ron and the NARMS International team are very interested in your thoughts and ideas about RMMC and NARMS membership in general. In fact, a paper survey about your NARMS membership that was circulated in Tampa is now available on-line. If you have not already done so, please take five minutes to click here and add your thoughts.

It is not too soon to set aside the dates of April 27-30, 2013 to engage in the industry and the Association. The NARMS team is seeking attendance from at least one representative of every member company to ensure that your voice is being heard. You can keep track of the conference by frequently visiting the 2013 RMMC Conference Center at More details will be available in the weeks and months ahead.


RMMC Seeks Input

April 24, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2012, Top Shelf


With the 2012 Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) in the rear view mirror, the event was held last week in Tampa, the time to gather fresh perspectives of what NARMS members want out of their conference is now. Conference attendees are being asked to fill out a brief on-line questionnaire available by clicking here.

Prior to conference, a call was made for members to actively engage, be challenged, and sit face to face with peers as we build and re-organize NARMS while they attended the at-retail merchandising and marketing industry showcase event. NARMS leadership and 2013 Conference Chair, Ron Apel of Ex-Sell Sales & Merchandising, are now asking that you take a few minutes to add your comments, suggestions and ideas on how NARMS can improve upon your experience. The information that you provide will be invaluable as we begin preparing for the 2013 event. The 2013 RMMC will be held in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The early reviews from the 2012 RMMC are encouraging, but the association needs a voice from every member company to continue to improve the experience and the value of the event. Your voice, ideas, input, point-of-view, experiences and opinions are crucial to the vitality of the conference and The Association.

The challenge for the balance of 2012 will be to clearly define what it means to be a member of NARMS and further validate the value of your membership, participation and leadership to your customers and clients. When you participate in the process, you can proudly display the NARMS logo on your website and sales material knowing that the brand stands for the highest possible standards. Please take the five minutes to fill out the post-RMMC questionnaire today and strike while the iron is hot.

C-Store Study Seeks Understanding

April 10, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2012, Top Shelf


More shopper research derived insight was shared when NACS and the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC) released, Growth, Using Shopper Research to Grow C-Store Sales.” In this study, the trade groups attempt to understand what shoppers say will get them to spend more at convenience store outlets. You can hear what key trading partners are saying by attending The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC), held April 14 – 17, 2012 at Saddlebrook Resort near Tampa.

The NACS/CCRC report is broken down into four parts. Part One defines shopper research. Shopper research focuses on understanding the shopping occasion. The report explains that this differs from consumer research which seeks to understand how consumers use the product.

Part Two uses in-depth shopper research to define the hierarchy of shopper needs. The main point is that retailers and manufacturers need to deliver on basic shopper needs such as safety, cleanliness, and hospitality before going after higher-level needs of simplicity and ease or time enrichment.

Part Three lays out insights that become translated into five growth platforms. These platforms are different occasions in the shopper life that may change for each visit to the store. These occasions balance a need to be in control versus a desire for diversions from the daily grind.

Part Four of the report reviews two key insights: How convenience retail owners and operators can better understand how shopping occasions drive store choices, and the value of focusing on the shopper perspective as a tool for planning growth strategies.

This review only scratches the surface of the information available in this report. You can download your copy by clicking here. However, there is a more simple and basic principle on display here. Understanding your customer and their customer opens up possibilities and opportunities for all trading partners. As providers of at-retail merchandising and marketing services, we should never turn down a chance to get smarter.

One such chance to get smart is reading and downloading this report from NACS/CCRC. Another is to attend The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC). The four days of networking, learning and motivation are almost upon us so if you have not registered or made your travel plans, do so today. The agenda and conference registration, as well as sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities for the 2012 RMMC are available now at the Conference Center on #RMMC561 #RMMC560

Truly Utilizing Big Shopper Data At-Retail

April 3, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2012, Top Shelf


Retailers and manufacturers are using advanced analytics and shopper data to know more about their customers than any time in history. They know what the shopper buys, how often they buy and what other products they buy at the same time. The most recent edition of Competitive Edge by Willard Bishop takes a specific look at what it calls a must have in terms of advanced analytics: Macro Space Optimization.

Competitive Edge points out that in general the industry has used data to make progress in improving inventory levels and store conditions to enhance the shopping experience. However, even with all these tools at our disposal, the problem of out-of-stocks has not really improved in 20 years. Bishop numbers put the level of OOS still at almost eight percent. Obviously, it is advantageous to identify fast movers and make sure there is enough stock on hand to handle periods of high traffic.

Using advanced analytics and shopper data is an important step in taking on OOS by making store space as productive as possible. It gives us the tools to minimize potential outages and maximize sales opportunities. Once armed with that information, it is time to execute the new plans at the store and shelf level. However, this logistical challenge can take all the software and analysis and render it null and void.

In order for a product to be on sale, it has to be on the shelf. Likewise, in order for a merchandising plan to impact consumers, it also has to be put on the shelf. All the best laid plans in retail history have run into this one unavoidable conclusion, and many have failed because of it.

Luckily, the members of NARMS are on hand to make these plans a reality. These at-retail merchandising and marketing service professionals provide the trained people, retail experience and technology to roll out merchandising initiatives to all channels of retail.

The members of NARMS and their key stakeholders will be meeting at The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC), held April 14 – 17, 2012 at Saddlebrook Resort near Tampa. The four days of networking, learning and motivation are coming up fast so if you have not registered or made your travel plans, do so today. The agenda and conference registration, as well as sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities for the 2012 RMMC are available now at the Conference Center on


Chain Restaurants in Growth Mode

March 27, 2012 by Newsfeed Editor  
Filed under RMMC2012, Top Shelf


It is only natural that the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry spend a great deal of time focused on the big three traditional retail channels: supermarket, mass and drug. These outlets remain key stakeholders and fertile grounds for business for NARMS members, but it is important to keep an eye on trends happening in other areas of retail. This story from Retail Traffic shines the spotlight on the growth happening for chain restaurants.

There seems to be a loosening among national restaurant chain players and a need to start expanding again. One real estate development expert expects new restaurant store openings to be 30-35 percent higher this year over last. The National Restaurant Association estimates that 2012 total restaurant industry sales will reach $631.8 billion. That would be a new record and represent a 0.8 percent increase over sales in 2011.

Experts are saying that improved economic conditions and greater availability of credit are among the factors for the slightly more optimistic stance. There is also a feeling that the time to strike is now to take advantage of favorable lease rates, which are showing signs of going away.

Chain restaurants have many of the same needs as chain retail stores. They open multiple locations, simultaneously in a variety of markets. It is equally important for these operators to open or remodel as quickly as possible and on-budget with high standards placed on efficiency, safety and consistency. Like any other channel, restaurants are interested in enhancing the customer experience.

Members of NARMS who provide professional installation services and mystery shopping are already in-tune with the opportunities presented by chain restaurants. But with the field in a growth mode, there may be many more opportunities for NARMS members just under the surface.

Staying in touch with trends and the opportunities that they drive is another reason to attend The Retail Merchandising and Marketing Conference (RMMC) that will be held April 14 – 17, 2012 at Saddlebrook Resort near Tampa. Your voice is crucial as we chart the course for the future of the Association, our own companies and our stake holders. The agenda and conference registration, as well as sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities for the 2012 RMMC are available now at the Conference Center on


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