Cantrex launches COVID-19 support program for members
SAINT-LAURENT, Quebec – Cantrex Nationwide (CNW), this country’s largest retail buying and marketing group, has launched a four-tiered program aimed at getting its membership through the COVID-19 pandemic, including a lobbying effort directed at the provincial government here to permit the right for brick-and-mortar stores to re-open in a safe and healthy manner.
In late March, the Quebec government added appliances and furniture to its list of essential services, allowing retailers to sell online, by telephone or by private appointment.
The campaign is being conducted under the hashtag #wewillgetthroughthis.
“We are grateful for how hard our members have been working with us and for their positive feedback,” CNW president and chief operating officer Jeannine Ghaleb said in a statement. “It is gratifying to know that we are all pulling together to get through these unprecedented times financially intact and set for a rebound.”
Cantrex Nationwide has put together what it describes as a four-pillar support strategy to support its members, who collectively operate some 1,000 storefronts across the country in a number of big-ticket categories such as appliances, furniture, home décor, floor covering, bedding, consumer electronics, photography, outdoor cooking and power.
The first pillar is communication, which Ghaleb pointed out is key to the likelihood of success for its members and involves both listening to them and providing the, with clear, concise information about the resources and program available to them.
Since the pandemic-related restrictions began in mid-March, CNW has surveyed its membership twice, allowing it to get a clear picture of how its retailers are coping and what they need – and to adjust its efforts accordingly.
Ghaleb said CNW is using a variety of communication methods – from telephone to e-mail to creating a COVID-19 info hub on the company’s member intranet – to keep its members continuously informed about government assistance programs, updates from its network of vendor partners, share best practices and provide specific pandemic-related tools and resources.
The program’s second pillar is to assist members with managing their financial situation. The group has negotiated extended terms with several key vendor partners across many of its product categories. It is also requesting expedited vendor co-op rebates and sell-through claims and is encouraging vendors to direct consumer inquiries to members open for business whether by telephone or online. It has also provided guidance on managing cash flow and stabilizing their businesses in uncertain times.
The third pillar is marketing support and training with an emphasis on online platforms and social media.
“The importance of a robust online platform and social media has never been clearer,” Ghaleb said. “Many of our dealers have reported a recent increase in online traffic to their sites and are fulfilling orders even while their stores are closed to the public.”
To help members do the best possible job of selling to and staying in touch with customers online, CNW is offering weekly webinars and one-on-one training. Other marketing support includes web site banners, door signs and customer notices related to changes due to the pandemic.
The program’s fourth pillar provides members with the information and documents they need to manage their staff during the crisis, such as legally approved letter templates for layoffs and clarification about the government wage subsidy and other programs. This saves them time and potential legal costs.
“Our team is working hard to ensure a brighter future for our members, but we are also focusing on helping them generate revenue in the short to mid-term,” Ghaleb explained. “We have identified the new hot products in all our sectors and are working with vendors to offer special prices to members. This will encourage them to offer niche and seasonal products that meet immediate consumer needs as we pass through the pandemic, such as furniture for home offices, air conditioning units and small appliances like bread machines.
“The power of a group like ours is that we have the resources and expertise to help our members weather the storm and thrive when the worst is behind us,” she added.
The #wewillgetthroughthis campaign seems to have been well received by the members.
“I would like to thank Cantrex Nationwide and their team for all the great information they have assembled for members and for genuinely caring how the store and our families and staff are doing. It has been very helpful in managing how we are adapting to this new retail environment,” said Ken Brisco, owner Brisco Furniture & Appliance in Alliston, Ontario.
“The tools and support provided by Cantrex will help us get through this very difficult situation together,” Lloyd Cox, general manager of Soundafex, an electronics specialist in Sydney, Nova Scotia, added.
“Cantrex’s graphics for customer communication on this crisis has saved us effort in a very chaotic time," noted Joe Todd, general manager of London, Ontario photography retailer Camera Canada.