Merchandising information comparison (MIC) system
Preferred Brands may have the most detailed tracking system in the industry, Pedick said, created to track every ounce of data, including every invoice, every product and amount sold, etc. “We can track which regions have the highest volumes of a particular product in terms of volume, sales. That’s how we select our core products. We can determine the value each and every product has to us. Both members and vendors win.”
Shaw’s Jackson is a big fan of the group’s data mining capabilities. “They mine that data for what’s selling on the floor and determine where the better opportunities lie and the hot products to point out to customers. They are capturing a tremendous amount of data that can assist members in their business.”
Bigger not necessarily better
Recognizing that it is difficult to sell retailers a 30-pin rack for $700 in this economy, Preferred Brands developed a podium pro- gram to feature select products. Each podium is vendor specific and can target new products or existing products that may have special pricing.
Preferred Brands works with its vendors to ensure the podiums are delivering a return. In fact, Pedick said the podium can be changed out three to four times a year. “We track the volume of each product for 90 days and then evaluate each product’s performance. At that point we make the decision to continue or replace based on the volume versus its target.
Daigle ordered some of the new podiums. “I like that when a customer comes through a store, the podium seems to draw attention. Plus, manufacturers will give special pricing on those podium products, which are individualized. Anytime you can isolate a product it draws the consumer’s attention, especially with competitive pricing.”
All-Tile has been doing business with Preferred Brands and its members for at least 25 years, watching the transition from a regional buying group to a national one. Rosenthal believes one of the group’s strongest suits is its level of intimacy with
members. “They never make ‘ivory tower’ decisions. They seem to really care about the whole dynamic between vendors, dealers and corporate.”
As for the members, he noted that many of their stores are located in smaller communities and towns. “Therefore, their dealer base is an integral part of the communities in which they do business.”
Jackson put it in perspective: “Preferred Brands has made big investments during this recession at a time when it would have been easier to not make the investments. These investments are designed to make members better retailers.”