Leaders from 11 major trade associations and buying groups – representing nearly 12,000 buyers of home decor and gift – recently gathered virtually with International Market Centers’ (IMC) Buyer Services team in a series of timely discussions that will inform and enhance the groups’ participation in markets through pandemic recovery and beyond.
“Through partnerships forged over many years with these trade organizations we have developed relationships which are open and honest about the current status and future direction of our businesses,” notes Dorothy Belshaw, chief customer and marketing officer. “IMC is proud to offer a platform for discussion and remains committed to supporting our buying group and trade association partners as they create the important programming and opportunities to best serve their members.”
Leaders from the industry partner organizations identified three main objectives for the coming year: enhancing their value propositions, expanding discovery and learning opportunities for members and maximizing vendor relationships. Participating organizations included American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), CRAFT Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow, MAI Retailers, Museum Store Association (MSA), National Alliance of Floral Associations, Spa Industry Association and Zoo, Aquarium and Garden Buyers Group (ZAG) and more.
IMC is committed to working with buying groups and associations to meet their goals and best serve their members, even during the current challenging times. The Buyer Services team, led by Cindy Henry, is working with organizations to create compelling and exclusive experiences that add value for members. While traditional gatherings, such as at-market events, are disrupted, IMC is offering hybrid virtual events / in-person buying models, meeting rooms set with social distancing measures and staggered times for group sourcing on the floors. Additionally, its enhanced digital product discovery tools are helping group leaders identify new vendors that are a match for their members.
“Like everything during a pandemic, the at-market experience for these groups is going to feel a little different, but the result is the same – identifying from our vast product collections the products and market services that best suit their specific needs,” adds Belshaw. “The leadership summits enable us to connect with all of our industry partners and to facilitate helpful connections between organizations. Now more than ever, we are committed to listening, learning and adapting our offerings to meet the needs of these important voices in our industry.”
Some 60-plus gift and home decor buying groups and trade associations are involved with IMC’s markets in Atlanta and Las Vegas each year. Programming ranges from group visits to market to member meetings to multi-day conferences and vendor presentations. For a sampling of industry partners visit the Atlanta Market and Las Vegas Market websites.