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Insights from the NATM Conference

Shown above: Gerald Satoren, executive director of NATM Buying Group and Michael Maund, head of marketing and operations, NATM

NATM Buying Corporation, a national buying co-op that represents 12 regional retailers in the appliance and electronics industry, last week hosted their annual conference in Dallas. The leadership provided an update to Dealerscope about what’s happening from their vantage point, what they are doing for their members and what to look forward to for the coming year.

Jerry Santoren, executive director of NATM Buying Group and Michael Maund, head of marketing and operations, filled us in.

NATM caters to luxury and premium members, with an average age of 50 years in business. For 2022, the members struggled with many of the same issues as the rest of the industry, including high demand and inflation and finding and hiring good employees. Supply was also a challenge, but it is slowly resolving. Most of this year the supply of TVs has mostly returned, and appliances are coming back but are still 6-8 months out. The good news for the consumer is that there are now great discounts on products that were backordered and are now in.

Working from home is not as big of a category as it was, but consumers that are hybrid are upgrading. However, nothing replaces the “in-person” experience when it comes to retail. Nowadays, the main advantage digital and virtual retail experiences offer to consumers is sometimes a more competitive price.

We also asked Santoren about his personal experience leading NATM, which he has done as executive director for nearly nine years. According to Santoren, at the beginning of its conception the group wanted to grow to 18 members. However, they quickly realized that not everyone is a good fit. Now they focus on quality over quantity.

“The correct offering to the correct members is important,” said Santoren, adding that if the right addition came along they would, however, consider it. “Today they are at the right size. and the group is perfect.”

Financially the group has been doing well and selling products for top dollar and few discounts. Programs have also been working well this year. Next year, they expect to see more “inside the store” experiences for the consumer, including interactive and POP displays. They also will begin learning more how Gen Z purchases and how the Metaverse will be a part of retail behavior in the future.