Canada’s Cantrex Nationwide Takes a Pro-active COVID-19 Stance
The Canada-based Cantrex Nationwide buying and marketing group for Canadian independent retailers has announced a roster of initiatives in support its member-retailers, which number more than 1,000 outlets, during the coronavirus crisis, including lobbying provincial governments for the right to reopen physical stores in a safe and healthy manner, according to the organization. One such effort came to fruition, the group reported, when, in late March, Quebec added appliances and furniture to the list of essential services, allowing these retailers to at least sell online, by phone or by private appointment.
“We are grateful for how hard our members have been working with us and for their positive feedback,” said Jeannine Ghaleb, president and COO at Cantrex Nationwide, which handles the appliances, furniture, home decor, floor covering, bedding, CE, photography, outdoor cooking and power categories. “It is gratifying to know that we are all pulling together to get through these unprecedented times financially intact and set for a rebound.”
To increase the likelihood of success, the company says it has assembled a four-pillar support strategy. Since communication is key, listening to members and getting clear, concise information out to them is pillar Number One.
Since pandemic restrictions began in mid-March, Cantrex has surveyed its membership twice, allowing it to get a picture of how its retailers are coping and what they need – and to adjust its efforts accordingly.
Using a variety of communication methods, from phone, to email to creating a COVID-19 info hub on the company’s member intranet, Cantrex is keeping its members continuously informed about government assistance programs, updates from its network of vendor partners, best practices, specific pandemic-related tools and resources, and more.
To assist members with their financial situation (pillar Number Two), Cantrex has negotiated extended terms with several key vendor partners, requested expedited vendor co-op rebates and sell-through claims and encouraged vendors to direct customers to their members still open for business, whether by phone or online. It has also provided guidance on managing cash flow and stabilizing their businesses in uncertain times.
“The importance of a robust online platform and social media has never been clearer,” said Ghaleb in the announcement statement. “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, Cantrex is offering weekly how-to webinars and one-on-one training. Other marketing support (pillar Number Three) includes template website banners, door signs and customer notices related to changes due to the pandemic.
Pillar Number Four, says the organization, is providing 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,” explained Ghaleb. “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.”