For Ace Hardware Corp., a distributor of home improvement and hardware supplies that operates as a retail cooperative, standardizing education on upcoming product lines to its vast network of retail associates has never been easy, the company says.
There are more than 4,800 Ace stores in nearly 50 countries, including Indonesia and Canada and a new store coming soon in Afghanistan, according to Ace. Almost all Ace stores in the United States are independently owned and operated by small business owners, and business buyers comprise 20% of the distributor’s client base.
In October, Ace launched the “Amy Howard at Home” chalk-based paint line to its U.S. retail stores. In September, as a way to educate store personnel before the product was sold, the company deployed an Internet-based interactive video platform from Brandlive, a provider of online videos designed for marketing, training and product demos. Brandlive’s technology can stream video from any website, including Ace’s B2B e-commerce site, TheSupplyPlace.com.
On Sept. 24, which Ace deemed National Retailer Training Day, about 3,500 Ace retailers and employees across the country signed in to view the company’s educational video about chalk-based paint. Participants posted more than 1,350 comments in online windows adjacent to the video during the presentation, Santo Lee, head of Ace’s paint product management, and other members of his team said in a recent interview.
“Overall retailer feedback about National Retailer Training Day was very positive and it served as an excellent complement to the other training opportunities we provide to our retailers, such as regional training events and online courses,” Lee says. “We are committed to fulfilling our helpful brand promise and know that retailers who invest time in training opportunities ultimately see a positive impact on their business.”
Ace declines to comment on the cost of deploying Brandlive, but describes it as a “turn-key and cost-efficient solution” for producing product videos. Brandlive says pricing for its video system varies according to the amount of technical support clients request and their use of such features as an online dashboard that displays information including the number of training videos completed by store personnel.
Ace Hardware is No. 187 in the new B2B E-Commerce 300, which lists companies by their annual B2B online sales.
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