MEGA Group USA helps retailers buy better, increase traffic and strengthen profits through its membership services.
By Stephanie Crets
Sometimes retailers need an extra bit of help to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. That’s where MEGA Group USA comes in, helping retailers buy better, increase traffic and strengthen their profitability through services like merchandising, advertising, retail financing, training and product protection. The group has 1,800 members with more than 3,000 storefronts and about 250 vendors among which its members can purchase. It serves the appliance, electronics, furniture, mattress and outdoor product industries.
Most of its members are mom-and-pop stores in secondary and tertiary markets, operating in smaller towns. “Our members need to be able to buy, advertise and look just like a big-box retailer without having the footprint of a big-box store,” says Missy Hodges, vice president of appliances at MEGA Group. “We’re making sure that members are taking advantage of everything out there as the competition continues to grow. Most of our storeowners have been in the business for many years, starting at the bottom and working their way up. We encourage our dealers to continue to educate themselves and stay savvy in their business.”
One of the ways MEGA Group helps its members stay competitive is through its website development. It has four different levels of websites, depending on how much a member wants to spend, but all levels include some type digital marketing services. Hodges says a website is a retailer’s greatest equalizer and asset. More than 80 percent of consumers do their preliminary research online before purchasing a product in high-price categories like appliances and electronics.
“Our members need a website that is equal to or better than their competition,” Hodges explains. “We make sure they can tell their story. Our members need to continue to innovate to stay competitive and pass their competition. The appliance world has changed, it isn’t all about the buy anymore; it’s about everything else that goes along with it. Change is important and has to be part of their daily life.”
MEGA Group prides itself on staying engaged with its members and vendors and having a personal touch with each one. “We work closely with our vendors to develop programming that can help our members,” Hodges says. “The vendor produces the product and sells it to the member, but our job is to draw customers into the member’s store, giving them the opportunity to make the sale.”
The organization hosts an exclusive national convention twice a year for their members. MEGA Group hosted its last convention this past March in Orlando, and the fall MEGA National Convention is coming up Aug. 21-24 in Nashville.
The conventions are not just an opportunity for members to take advantage of special buys directly from vendors. This is an opportunity for vendor product training, keynote speeches and educational sessions. In addition, Hodges spearheads a preview event at the show called MEGA Madness, which is a 90-minute buying frenzy for members to purchase exclusive or limited supply items from vendors.
“Not a day goes by that I’m not on the phone or meeting with my vendors and members,” Hodges says. “Innovation continues to be a big part of the major appliance industry. It is very important to stay connected to the vendor community so we can better understand the brand and category strategies. This knowledge can help us make smart merchandising decisions. These decisions help our members become more profitable and successful. We can develop a great strategy but we need to make sure our members embrace it.”
Thanks to MEGA Group’s personal touch, the organization had its best first quarter ever in upping membership numbers. Additionally, the organization continues to grow its sales force. Five years ago, MEGA Group had little to no representation in the western half of the United States, but it has grown dramatically and increased membership and vendor relationships in the West.
Along with that, MEGA Group also ensures it finds the right vendors for its members as it continues to add and improve on its services. “We continue to expand our digital marketing offers – that is the future – while keeping our personal touch,” Hodges adds.
She attributes the organizational growth to how connected every department in MEGA Group is. Although Hodges is focused on appliances and outdoor products, she still knows what’s happening in the furniture and mattress sector. “I don’t build a silo,” Hodges says. “We need to understand that we’re working together as a team. We stay focused and make sure we are all pulling the horse in the same direction.”
Although it was once known to be a group for smaller retailers, MEGA Group now serves a variety of different-sized retailers, but maintaining focus on the mom-and-pop stores. “I’m proud of the positive growth we’ve had over the past five years,” Hodges says. “We have developed programming and merchandising that can accommodate all size dealers. That’s been one of our biggest challenges and we’ve nailed it.”