The 2023 National Alliance of Trade Merchants (NATM) Vendor Conference took place on September 18-21, 2023. The annual conference is where vendors meet, mingle, and collaborate. Founded in 1970, NATM acts as a buying co-op representing “10 dominant regional retailers in the appliance, electronic, bedding, information technology, and furniture industries” while coordinating “the buying and merchandising strategies for its members and providing a forum for the exchange of ideas,” according to the NATM 2023 Conference Guide. The NATM Vendor Conference also holds a President’s Dinner each year, and this year’s was the first for John Riddle, who took over as the Executive Director of NATM in May 2023.
Mike Abt, co-president of Abt Electronics and a NATM retailer, introduced Riddle at the dinner with the sentiment that NATM members are “not just selling appliances. They’re selling experiences and memories and moments,” which fits the group’s motto: Together towards tomorrow.
In his opening statement, Riddle expressed that because NATM comprises only ten dominant retailers, coming up with a strategy that benefits all is a realistic goal. “We need NATM to move rapidly to pivot with the changing environment in retail and especially with new consumer trends,” said Riddle. He divided the market into four segments: value, core, mass premium, and luxury, explaining the median pricing and subsequent differences between small retailers and big box stores. Riddle continued that the ten NATM retailers have “influential members in over 50 percent of the major markets in the United States, and NATM penetrates over 72 percent of the population.”
NATM members can grow by leveraging key differentiators to win more shares of larger displays, implement professional home delivery and installation, practice sales expertise in growing technologies, and serve highly educated consumers. Riddle cautioned members about the “big box ‘draw’ from their brand and ‘close’ with private label or ‘exclusive brands.’”
Riddle concluded his statement by encouraging members to embrace new changes so that the whole group can grow to reach new heights.