Ace Hardware Corp. is hosting its third fully virtual convention this week, providing retailers with special pricing on products, networking opportunities and training sessions.
The digital show is modeled after Ace’s in-person events, which have been important gatherings for retailers to connect with each other, vendors and Ace corporate staff for years.
The spring virtual convention improves on the co-op’s prior online events by providing more personalized experiences for retailers, better convention site navigation and more live chat capabilities, says Brian Wiborg, senior vice president of merchandising.
Ace Hardware is providing retailers with customized order recommendations for products with show-specific special pricing. These recommendations are based on the retailers’ sales histories and other store-specific data, Wiborg says.
All of the convention site’s pages will allow retailers to chat live during show hours with Ace staff, manufacturers and industry peers. A special networking page will allow retailers to see when key Ace executives are available to meet live via video individually or with groups of store owners.
“We’re trying to replicate as best we can the in-person experience,” Wiborg says.
Just like with traditional conventions, retailers will get the most out of the virtual show if they plan ahead for how to take advantage of buying and meeting opportunities, he says.
Training sessions will be live during the day, so retailers who plan well can have whole teams of employees participate. Employees will gain from opportunities to learn from other virtual attendees’ questions as well as the real-time responses from trainers, Wiborg says.
Virtual shows have allowed twice as many store employees to participate in live training events as in-person shows because operations don’t have to limit the number of people they send, he says.
Ace Hardware’s executive team is monitoring the pandemic and planning for a face-to-face convention in the fall, if it is safe for groups to gather.