The members of NARMS apply their trade in every channel of retail. By visiting www.narms.com and using the Detail Search function, it just so happens that 88 members of NARMS say they do business in the Consumer Electronic Channel. Why is that relevant? Well, today is the first day of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. One of the primary functions of the website is to help prospective customers find and retain just the right professional, experienced and expert at-retail merchandising and marketing service company to fit their needs.
And speaking of Consumer Electronics, DSN Retailing Today just came out with a story that highlights a recent report by Market Research Solutions (MRS). The white paper reports on a survey of 272 CE department managers at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Hhgregg and more. The full report is available for download at a fee, but DSN Retailing Today gives us a sneak peak with some top line insights into this very dynamic channel.
Just a few of the observations: The majority of the managers said that sales and store traffic were up during the Holidays compared to last year. Certain brands lead by Apple were in high demand. The tablet computer was the hottest product and managers expect that to continue into 2012. The supply chain did an overall good job of being ready for the high demand of certain items.
Executing in-store initiatives at specialty retailers such as the CE channel requires a high degree of performance and often involves hand-held technology and robust reporting systems. The NARMS brand means that prospective customers can come to us to find and hire service firms who have the highest standards for quality, innovation and business ethics. And the bar is getting higher. Membership in NARMS helps to constantly raise those levels so that our customers get the best service possible in whatever channel they do business.
Some refreshing news came out of Washington, D.C. this week as DSN Retailing Today reported on a roundtable discussion among retailers and commercial shopping center developers. The topic was bridging the gap that exists among landlords and tenants over creating sustainable, energy-efficient retail stores in the United States. The meeting took place on June 9 and included Wal-Mart, Petco, Ann Taylor, Target, VF Corp., Best Buy, Westfield, Vornado and others.
The story states that both parties are investing in green practices and technologies, but progress has been limited by market conditions. The six-month collaboration is designed to identify barriers and issues that separate the trading partners and find areas in which they can work together.
It is clear that green practices are going to play a larger role as the retail industry looks to expand its presence, and yet reduce its environmental impact. For many years, the members of NARMS, professional at-retail merchandising and marketing service providers, have been bridging the gap between manufacturers and retailers by acting as an enabler of greater collaboration. Green initiatives may be yet another opportunity to play that role.
Building out new retail spaces and remodeling existing spaces to conform to changing industry norms and regulations are core competencies for many NARMS members, specifically the members of the PIC Division. These companies work hand-in-hand every day with landlords and tenants in retail locations across the country.
The resulting outcomes of the D.C. roundtable are yet to be determined, but will play out over the next six months. It makes sense for NARMS members to pay particular attention to this developing story as new opportunities to be of service to our customers are sure to arise.
National chains in all channels of trade have been investigating smaller formats as a means to battle recessionary forces. According to an article in Retail Traffic, several retail consultants and real estate brokers said the smaller footprints allow chains to leverage multi-channel shopping trends, more easily adapt to urban settings and operate more efficiently. Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Gap are among the chains getting in on the action.
Wal-Mart plans for 2011 include opening 30 to 40 Walmart Market or Walmart Express units. In February, Target launched the CityTarget concept, with stores about half the size of a regular Target. The company plans to open four CityTarget stores in 2012, in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco. Best Buy plans to open 150 Best Buy Mobile stores in 2011, giving it a total of 325 by the end of the year. Others pursuing smaller formats include Old Navy, Giant Eagle, Trader Joes, Publix, Fresh Market and Sports Authority.
Smaller and more frequent stores play into the strengths of the members of NARMS. The ability to provide consistent and professional at-retail merchandising and marketing services in multiple locations and geographies is a core competency of the members.
Part of the rationale behind the smaller store trend is that retailers can be more flexible and responsive to changing consumer needs, much like their Dollar Store competitors. NARMS members can be at the forefront of this trend by allowing retailers and manufacturers the ability to execute headquarter level merchandising decisions at the store level on-time and on-budget allowing for quicker realization of the sales lift.
The opening of new locations will be challenging for big-box retailers, who will have to rethink the logistics of more locations in the same geography, rather than one huge store. The PIC division members of NARMS are expert agents of change who bring the efficiencies of working in all channels of trade and applying that learning to each opportunity. The trend allows retailers to more easily move into existing vacant or acquired real estate. PIC members have played a huge role in the acquisition conversion activity of the Chain Drug and Dollar Store channels, experience that will be vital in similar size stores.
No matter what the trend or challenge, NARMS members have been there for their retailer and manufacturer clients and will continue to offer flexible and cost effective solutions to the challenges of an ever evolving go-to-market system.
The February issue of Times & Trends by SymphonyIRI, CPG Year in Review: Out of Turmoil Rises Opportunity takes a sustained look at economic, channel, department and category performance during calendar 2010. This Year in Review edition is great reading for CPG marketers seeking to understand the new market opportunities that have arisen out of the ashes of the great recession. For the members of NARMS, who provide those marketers and their retailer partners with expert at-retail merchandising and marketing services, it also makes sense to keep fingers on the pulse.
One area of interesting analysis revolves around a shifting channel share. While Grocery and Mass channels saw little to no change in their share of the action, the Drug channel experienced an over 1% jump in share. That is a significant leap when you consider that the Drug channel occupies 11% of overall CPG spending.
In a measurement of category sales, center store and beauty care experienced huge increases. The finding underscores a big shift in consumer buying habits changed, maybe forever, by the recession. Shoppers are now spending much more time at home preparing their own meals and becoming more self-reliant in health and beauty needs. Surprisingly, food sales are up in the Drug channel and health and beauty care is flat, which further outlines the changing dynamic.
This is just a brief sampling of the kind of information and facts packed into this report which can help you understand the marketplace shifts that your customers must master. You can download Times & Trends by clicking here.
For even more insight directly from marketers and retailers, you can attend the Manufacturer-Retailer Connection Forum held on Monday, April 11th at the 16th Annual NARMS Spring Conference and Exposition held this year in Monterey, California. The forum this year will feature insight from speakers representing Spin Master, Ltd.; Starbucks; Best Buy; Just Born; Ghirardelli Chocolate Company; Walgreens and Vanns Inc. Click here to access the Conference Center where you will find a value-packed agenda, hotel and registration information. #NARMSCON463
In an era of government deficits, much of the political discourse in Washington and in state capitols across the nation revolves around the balancing act of taxing and spending. Putting budgets back on track will surely involve taking a hard look at spending to make sure each item is an appropriate investment for future prosperity. In the business world, we are all faced with those decisions every day. Today, we will take a look at great investment opportunity for the members of the at-retail merchandising and marketing service industry, the 2011 16th Annual NARMS Meeting, Spring Conference and Exhibition.
The first, and perhaps most important, opportunity is to register and attend the showcase event being held on April 9-12 at the magnificent Portola Plaza Hotel on Monterey Bay in Monterey, California. Although the location itself is stunning, you will want to check out the value-packed agenda which is designed to ensure the time spent in California will maximize your investment. You can visit the Conference Center here for full details, but a few of the highlights include: NARMS 16th Annual Spring Conference Keynote Panel - What a Retailer Really Wants from an In-Store Service Provider - moderated by Dan Raftery of Raftery Resource Network, Sampling & Demo Study moderated by Dr. Kenny Herbst of Wake Forest University, and of course the Manufacturer –Retailer Connection Forum. The forum this year will feature representatives from Spin Master, Ltd.; Starbucks; Best Buy; Just Born; Ghirardelli Chocolate Company; Walgreens and Vanns Inc. There is also a full slate of Division meetings, keynote speakers, store tours and hospitality events.
The trade show portion is another valuable investment for companies who bring innovative programs and services to our members. Many of these exhibitors are also Associate Members who not only support us with their exhibitor fees, but also play an active role in the discussion on how to best serve our retailer and CPG manufacturer clientele. Interested companies can visit the Conference Center for all of the information they need to join the show. The agenda has included some special events such as lunches on the trade show floor and a reception to allow for a more enriching networking experience beyond just walking the trade show hall.
The third investment opportunity lies in sponsorships. There are several primary sponsor opportunities remaining for our 2011 event. Put your company into the limelight and demonstrate your commitment to NARMS by becoming a Platinum, Gold or Silver Sponsor of the event. Sponsorships remain for the Tuesday morning and afternoon general sessions and many of the food/beverage related activities, plus the Sunday night NARMS Hospitality Suite. Looking for a new and fresh sponsorship prospect? Your company can now sponsor a student from the UW-Madison retailing excellence program or local California students. To investigate further, hit the Sponsorship tab at the Conference Center.
If this column seems long, it is only because you simply cannot run out of things to talk about when promoting the 2011 NARMS Spring Conference. We have truly only scratched the surface. If you are looking to make your promotional, outreach and education dollars true investment spending for the future, Monterey is a good place to start.
Last week I made the four hour trip to Minneapolis and the Minnesota Business Reputations Event at Best Buy Headquarters. This was a great opportunity to hear from Chris Brogan, one of the premier voices and experts on social media today. From NARMS standpoint, the social media movement is important on several levels. First, the application has a far reaching effect on how we can even more effectively operate our trade association. Second, how it augments how our members can interact with their trading partners. And third, as experts in at-retail merchandising and marketing service execution, it is vital that our member companies understand how customers are using this medium and how it can be made operational. In fact, our members can be the instrument to bring social media programs to store level. Not to mention that this was also an opportunity to get in the front door of retailing superpower Best Buy.
Chris Brogan is an eleven year veteran of using social media and both web and mobile technologies to build digital relationships for businesses, organizations, and individuals. Brogan speaks, blogs, writes articles, and makes media of all kinds at chrisbrogan.com, a blog in the top 5 of the Advertising Age Power150, and in the top 100 on Technorati. He is co-author of the New York Times bestselling book Trust Agents.
Brogan’s keynote address was built on the theme of, “Listen, Connect and Publish.” Listening to your publics and determining what they need will help you craft the message. Brogan suggested that you take the next step and really “See” the people you are trying to connect with. To really connect, you have to go where they are and be a participant in the discussion, not just merely try to manage the discussion. Brogan really stressed that the basis of social media is humanity. In other words, just learning to be human and interact with others before trying to figure out how to market via the medium. Without the foundation of humanity, you could fail. However, really listening to and connecting with your publics on a human level opens the doorway to powerful publishing.
Your manufacturer and retailer customers are spending increasingly more time and money on social media. It is always our challenge to listen to their needs and help them find ways to extend the reach of this communication channel all the way to the store shelves. While trading partners are using social media to attract consumers to the product, NARMS members could act as an important link in the chain by making sure expectations are met when customers reach the store. Our members can also close the loop by using social media to bring the customer feedback around.
Speaking as someone who is just scratching the surface of social media, Brogan’s address, and the subsequent panel discussion were very thought provoking and valuable. I would encourage you to visit www.chrisbrogan.com and see for yourself. If you are interested in how to integrate social media with your NARMS.com presence, you can attend the Social Media workshop at NARMS Spring Conference on Sunday, April 18 from 1:00-2:00 P.M.
It is a time honored tradition that we bring in the New Year with a bang. Here at NARMS International, we have another big bang to close out January. Industry research and trade publications have often told us how important it is to influence buying decisions at the point of sale. “Winning the Customer at the First Six Feet of the Sale ,” the second in NARMS 2009 Webinar Series will take a look at this philosophy, but will also bring it up-to-date with new information and a fresh perspective on the modern consumer. Making the event even more appealing is the expert three-person panel that will bring you the information in this hour-long format. You still have some time to register. The webinar, powered by ReadyTalk, is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 30th at 1:00 CST and is brought to you through the generosity of NaturalInsight.
It is estimated that over 86% of US consumers now make product purchase decisions from information they research on the Internet. Service companies, manufacturers, and retailers must understand how the first six feet of sale impacts their future success or failure, especially during these volatile economic times. Retail marketing services companies must now embrace how online consumer marketing programs influence at-retail sales and activities and seamlessly integrate their activities and services across both channels. Kreta Chandler, Pete Tully and Karen Hyatt of Retail Brand Strategies International, LLC will be leading this important discussion.
Chandler is the co-founder and a principal of Retail Brand Strategies International, a firm that provides manufacturers and retailers with channel integration solutions that increase sales, profitability, and customer loyalty. Over the past several years, Chandler was a key force in establishing Hewlett-Packard’s retail e-commerce channel and significantly grew HP’s technology product online sales and market share for major retailers such as OfficeMax, Wal-Mart, Amazon, QVC, Office Depot, Costco, and Best Buy, to name a few.
Tully has marketed for such companies as Qantas Airlines, Colgate Palmolive, General Foods and KFC Australia. He founded his own company, The Marketing Department, which grew into the largest marketing services company in Australia , with many multinational clients. Tully is now a strategic advisor to Retail Brand Strategies International.
Hyatt is co-founder and a principal of Retail Brand Strategies International. With over three decades of experience in retail and high-technology sectors, she is a highly regarded marketing expert specializing in retail strategy, customer insight and multi-channel marketing. An accomplished editor and published author, Hyatt has been a featured speaker at business conferences throughout the U.S. and a consultant to Fortune 500 retailers, including Wal-Mart and Staples.
With this type of expert analysis and counsel, “Winning the Customer at the First Six Feet of the Sale ,” is a can’t miss for you and your staff. Click here to register for this exciting event without leaving the comfort of your offices.
While perusing the pages of Progressive Grocer, well the electronic version anyway, I came across a bit of information that hit me like a shiny new bicycle on Christmas morning. A research group called IHL has released a study called, “What’s the Deal with Out-of-Stocks,” which examines why retailers lose sales to consumers who want to spend money at their stores. Add this study to your deck of information exhibiting issues that can be solved by the professional at-retail marketing and merchandising companies that make up the membership of NARMS.
As if the economy isn’t bad enough, the study tells us that retailers are losing the sale of at least one item to as many as 20% of the customers who visit their stores. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. IHL notes that the negative shopping experience may drive the consumer away from the store entirely. With as much information as we have on out-of-stocks, it appears that the message is not getting through, or rather not getting executed.
The story says that consumers are coming to the store with money that they have budgeted to spend and leave without spending it because they can’t find an item, can’t get access to a locked item, or can’t get help to get an item that is not on the shelf, but may be in-stock. Because of the problem, 9% of polled consumers said they have stopped shopping at one or more stores in the last 12 months.
To further illustrate the lost opportunity, Consumer Electronic stores are losing $1.35 for every customer that comes in the store due to the level of out-of-stocks. Warehouse clubs lose $1.78 and grocery stores 68 cents in sales for every customer that can’t find the product or a replacement. The differences in the losses per channel are caused by the merchandising mix and average transaction of the store. If you multiply $1.35 times the number of consumers that come though the store during a day, week or month, the cost of an hour service call here or there to recover the loss seems like pretty good return-on-investment.
The study is available for a fee at www.ihlservices.com. There are also some free preview summary pages available. The study goes into specifics of OOS performances at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Best Buy, Circuit City , Costco, Albertsons, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, and others in the food/grocery, home improvement, or electronics channels. This information, and other similar afforts available in the NARMS InfoShare Library, is a gift in our efforts to demonstrate value and be part of the solution.