It’s easy for a membership organization to talk the talk and say that it’s all about its people. It’s another to walk that walk and follow through on such a commitment. Nationwide Marketing Group spent much of its first day this week doing a lot of talking through keynotes, Learning Academy sessions, and networking events at the Venetian/Palazzo resort in Las Vegas. But Day 2 of the show, which included the official opening of the PrimeTime show floor at the Sands Expo Center, included plenty of walking—beyond the dozen or so laps we took around the trade show floor.
During its pre-show press conference with the press, Nationwide’s leadership team divulged a number of updates to product and service programs the group has been working on over the past year or so, and they provided details on a number of new programs that were introduced here at PrimeTime. Simply put, the breadth and depth of those programs is remarkable. But in hearing Nationwide Marketing Group’s team explain the path to launching each of these programs is to understand that it’s not just an effort to offer the most services or the most products. Rather, the group is helping to create a narrative—and an incredibly compelling one at that—as to why members should be deeply engaged with the group.
“It’s important to us that everyone understands how invested we are in this channel,” Tom Hickman, Nationwide’s Chief Member Advocate, said during the press conference. “It’s our job to get out in front and give our members the things they need before they know they need them. That’s better than giving things to them after the fact when it’s already too late.”
Among the new partnerships announced at this show is one with AT&T that will give its retailers access to the entire AT&T suite of product, from cellular to DirecTV and in-home internet, with no inventory requirements. Granted, the Nationwide team admitted upfront that the idea of convincing its appliance and TV retailers to start offering consumers smartphones and cable TV packages might be a tough sell, it’s one that they felt gives their members a more complete connected-tech story to tell and another way to drive more-regular foot traffic into their stores—all without adding any additional burden to the stock room or warehouse. And, in speaking with AT&T at the show, they’re committed to helping get retailers trained quickly and simplifying the approval process down to a 10-minute transaction.
On the business side of things, Nationwide Marketing Group rolled out a number of new programs, including a customizable insurance program for retailers. But the headline offering is a new HR service through CoAdvantage, which offers retailers a third-party solution for everything from payroll management, to human resources services, to healthcare and workers comp, and more. The goal here, as Nationwide and CoAdvantage put it, is to help take important—albeit time consuming—managerial tasks off of small business owners’ plates, which allows them to keep their focus on the more pressing matters for their business, things like strategy, and selling. And if members need a reason to give the new offering any consideration, they really need to look no further than their buying group, which, in going through the vetting process of CoAdvantage, decided to integrate its offerings into the company itself.
“Our objective has always been to help independent retailers thrive on their own terms,” said Hickman in a statement. “Collaborating with the digital marketing experts at RWS has allowed us to create an affordable, all-in-one solution to help our members plan and execute a cohesive digital strategy that allows them to compete more effectively in today’s digital-first retail environment. We are committed to our investment in digital for the future success of our members, helping them compete at every touch point to drive sales and achieve lasting results.”
Additionally, the business services team announced that in-store credit provider Synchrony will launch a program through its newly launched Synchrony Home program that turns its store-specific cards into credit lines that can be used at any location, giving Nationwide members immediate access to some $21 billion in consumer credit.
Digitally, Nationwide is slowly but surely working its way through its membership to get them operating efficiently and effectively online. According to the group, they now operate some 2,500 member websites, roughly half the total number of Nationwide members. Having essentially achieved scale in that realm, the group is now using its trove of data to improve its offerings digitally, including optimizing its AdRockets campaigns and RWS programs among other areas of the business.
PrimeTime can often feel a bit like drinking from a firehose with the amount of new information and announcements that get flung our way over the course of our 48-hours or so with the group. But hearing their narrative and understanding how everything comes together and each program or service compliments the next really brings a whole new focus to the independent retail channel. Everything Nationwide is doing stems from the group’s commitment to using data to help drive business decisions—both internally and for its members. It’s a lead-by-example approach that Hickman has professed since taking the reigns of the organization a year ago this show, and it’s one that will continue to push Nationwide and its retailer members down a promising path of innovation and sustainability.