As you read this article today our Luxury Appliance vertical at Nationwide is only 1.5 years old. Considering all of the change and uncertainty since the pandemic, the idea of launching a brand-new business vertical might’ve seemed a little crazy at the time. If you would have told me three years ago we were going to launch this new vertical when we did, I would have told you we were a lot crazy. But as with anything, timing is everything. And it turns out there was no better time than January 1, 2021, for us to focus on the this very important space for our Members and strategic vendor partners.
So, what has changed?
Let’s start and look how consumer shopping has changed; over 80 percent of shoppers today do their research online prior to making a purchase — and that number continues to rise rapidly. The Luxury Appliance business is not immune to this trend, which is why it is so important that retailers are marketing to these consumers and providing the best possible website experience.
At Nationwide we have invested in resources (experts, really), to create effective digital strategies customized for the luxury consumer, helping to drive more traffic to our Members’ websites and, ultimately, into their stores. We have invested in our website platforms by:
- Working to create a better experience for luxury consumers by upgrading strategic vendor partners landing pages
- Adding in appointment scheduling options to provide a higher level of service that this luxury consumer expects
- Expanding options for virtual tours
- Integrating RDC inventory feeds from our strategic vendor partners, which helps identify if/when products can be delivered With consumers spending more time than ever at home during the pandemic, our investments focused on web and digital has helped our Members not just thrive but increase their overall share in their respective marketplaces.
As the pandemic took hold, it prevented a lot of reps from traveling out to see retailers to conduct very important product trainings. Vendors pivoted quickly to create their own LMSs (learning management systems) or conducted webinars to keep retail sale associates updated on important training initiatives. For this reason, we have been busy improving the Nationwide Learning Academy with an important upgrade: Luxury University. We now offer ondemand, rewards-based Luxury Appliance education for our Members. As we all know, an educated sales professional is a key differentiator for the Independent channel vs. Big Box. Having the best sales team is how we win!
The last area I want to mention, especially as cost of doing business continues to skyrocket, are a couple retail activation tools we have developed for Members. One of the programs we tested that has received an overwhelmingly positive response is our Sales Driver program. Without giving away any secrets, this program improves Members’ margins, drives focus to our strategic Vendor Partners and supports our PriMetrix initiative (helping drive better business intelligence to Members). In addition, we have collaborated with our strategic Vendor Partners to roll out a 24-month financing program for Members, offering substantial savings. To sum up, our retail activation focus is helping improve margins and close more sales driving more share to our Members.
The best part of our new Luxury Appliance initiative being only 1.5 years old is that we are just getting started! We look forward to seeing this channel — and your luxury business — continue to grow and thrive.
John O’Halloran is senior merchant of luxury appliances for Nationwide Marketing Group.