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Tom Samiljan

Digital Is Here to Stay, Says Nationwide’s Hickman

By Tom SamiljanMarch 31, 2021

Nationwide Marketing Group‘s second remote-only Virtual PrimeTime wrapped up earlier this week with sessions on everything from smart luxury appliances to finding opportunity in the challenges caused by COVID, but one thing was clear: Digital prowess is key for retailers not only during the current pandemic, but also well after it subsides.

“Consumers have spent the last 12 months doing literally everything online…and 2020 was their masterclass in how to live in the digital age” said NMG President and Chief Member Advocate Tom Hickman in his kick-off speech, citing encouraging statistics around the ever-increasing number of vaccinated Americans, which is slowly helping brick-and-mortar businesses reopen. “But just because stores, restaurants, schools, and theme parks are becoming safer to visit, it’s unrealistic to expect consumers to suddenly abandon their newfound love and proficiency in the online shopping experience.” This is likely clear to many Nationwide members that achieved record growth last year. According to Hickman, members that worked with Nationwide service partners RWS (Retailer Web Services) and Site on Time experienced 27 percent more sales—an additional $270,000, to be more specific–than retailers on competing platforms, leading to an additional $67,005 in profit.

Hickman also zeroed in on the third round of economic stimulus payments that started going out to consumers this past week, and reminded members of the traffic spikes to their sites when the first stimulus payments went out in April 2020. “I encourage you to get active, if you aren’t already, around that $1,499 price point,” he said, offering examples of packages in the furniture, laundry, sleep, and grilling categories that generally clock in around that price. “The $1,499 price point is one consumers are predisposed to hone in right now. So leverage the speed of digital to merchandise, leaning into it online and look to replicate that in-store.” In other words, just because brick-and-mortar locations may be open, it’s still all about the digital doorways into those locations.

While most members have had no choice but to step up their digital game and have seen much success as a result—sometimes even struggling to fill orders–they have slacked in other important areas: namely, marketing. “Today, consumers are exposed to many thousands of brand messages a day, and those interactions build awareness,” said Hickman. “If we go dark on our marketing efforts, we stop building awareness of our businesses with shoppers who aren’t in the market today….We’re surrendering those shoppers, to those who remain active.”

In other words, and in some cases, to big-box retailers such as Best Buy that have doubled-down on online ad spending since 2020. “In short, this isn’t a time to go dark,” said Hickman. “When it comes to marketing, your brand is either appearing, or it’s disappearing.”

Thinking Out of the Box

By Tom SamiljanMarch 31, 2021

Samsung’s ingenious eco-packaging gives TV shipping boxes a second life as small-scale furniture

The corrugated cardboard boxes that contain new TVs are a burden to dispose of whether purchased at a brick-and-mortar store or online. If you are eco-conscious, or simply live in a city or town where recycling is mandatory, then you will break it up and leave it in one of those big blue containers for a sustainable pickup. Either way, it’s a big waste of resources and a generator of emissions from transport and processing at the very least. You just need a reason to keep it.

In 2020, Samsung came up with a creative, convenient, and compelling reason. Used to contain each model in entire line of audio products, computer monitors, and UHD and QLED televisions, Samsung’s “eco-packaging” boxes are designed to be repurposed into small-scale furniture — everything from book shelves and end tables to pet beds and mini-media consoles. Boxes are marked up with dot-matrix grids that can be used for measurement and to follow design patterns, which are accessible via QR codes.

Sustainability aside, the program has been a hit with designers, with many of the newest items of furniture consisting of finalists from last fall’s “Out of the Box” competition, which Samsung organized in partnership with British design magazine Dezeen. Whether it’s a hit with consumers beyond eco-conscious and aesthetically minded millennials, Gen Z or hipster apartment dwellers remains to be seen. On the high-end front, not so much.

“It’s a great idea, but I just don’t know how much they’re going to get used,” says David Pidgeon, CEO of Dallas-based custom audio-video installer Starpower, which deals in high-end audio and video components as well as custom installations. “Our customers are going for more luxury in their homes.” Cardboard cat “houses” might be useful and sustainable, but they don’t necessarily fit in with high-end furniture.

Still, Samsung’s solution is perfect for the right customer. Surprisingly, no other consumer electronics company is repurposing packaging in quite this way; kudos to Samsung for thinking out of the box with this nifty, practical, and circular solution.  — TS