MEMPHIS -- Orgill Inc. is announcing plans to forgo its in-person 2021 Spring Dealer Market and proceed with a more dynamic and flexible approach to its physical shows, conferences and buying markets starting next year that will incorporate online, live and hybrid events.
"Just like the retailers we serve, this year taught us a lot about how to be agile and how to push outside our comfort zones to meet the needs of our customers," says Boyden Moore, Orgill president and CEO. "What started out with a commitment to keep our employees, vendors and customers safe that led to us rethinking our entire approach to how we interact with all of these stakeholders. We believe that live shows, online buying events and educational conferences should not exist in a vacuum—they should all work together in how we do business in the future."
Building on this new paradigm in 2021, Orgill will offer a combination of events, including physical shows like its traditional Dealer Markets, online-only buying events like the recent Orgill e-Volution, virtual educational events and blended shows that merge online technology with a physical event.
"The days of a stand-alone physical event are a thing of the past," says Greg Stine, Orgill's executive vice president of marketing and communications. "We believe that this expanded strategy will provide a platform of support for our dealers, allowing them to efficiently buy products and gain knowledge that will help them grow and strengthen their businesses."
Orgill hopes that crafting this multi-channel experience will build on the success of both its in-person Dealer Markets and its highly successful e-Volution Online Buying Event that debuted earlier this year.
"We have a long history of producing dynamic, interactive and informative live events with our Dealer Markets, but we also learned through the production of our e-Volution Online Buying Event that technology can help broaden our reach to more customers and offer unique and richer experiences to everyone who participates in them," Stine says.
The e-Volution Online Buying Event ran from Aug. 24-Sept. 4 and was open to Orgill's entire retail customer base, enabling them to take advantage of promotional buying opportunities, shop for seasonal merchandise and browse through thousands of new products without ever having to leave their stores.
The online event attracted nearly 10,000 retailers who interacted with the thousands of vendors and service providers participating in the show. In addition to setting records for the number of retailers participating in a buying event, the online event also set sales records for Orgill, which has now shipped nearly 90% of the orders placed during the two-week buying window.
"This was really a proof of concept for us that there is an appetite among both retailers and vendors for an online event," says Jeff Curler, Orgill's senior vice president of purchasing. "These events certainly don't take the place of face-to-face shows, but they do offer some things a live show can't, like the ability to get a lot done in a short window of time and eliminating the need to leave your store to travel."
Orgill's team also learned a lot from the successful launch of its first Online Buying Event that can be used to enhance the live-show experience, Curler adds.
"Live shows have some distinct advantages and online shows have some distinct advantages, but they don't need to be mutually exclusive," Curler says. "We plan to utilize all the means at our disposal to offer our customers optimized, multi-channel experiences throughout the year rather than just limiting ourselves to one method or the other."
In addition to harnessing the best elements online and live shows offer, Orgill also looks to create a consistent cadence for these events throughout the year that allows more retailers to participate and is also more conducive to buying cycles.
"With only two live events each year, you kind of force retailers into buying windows that might not work ideally for the way they want to run their businesses," Curler says. "With more events added throughout the year, retailers and vendors will have even more opportunities to interact and better plan their purchasing."
Orgill plans to hold its first Online Buying Event of 2021 from Feb. 8-19, with a pre-event planning period scheduled for Feb. 1-7. This event will be similar to the recent Orgill e-Volution 2020 Fall Online Buying Event and will take the place of the live Spring Dealer Market, which was scheduled for Feb. 25-27.
Orgill will unveil plans for additional Online Buying Events and interactive educational conferences in early 2021, according to Moore.
"After the first of the year, we will be releasing a full schedule of all our online, in-person and hybrid events for the entire year. This will include buying events, educational conferences, store tours and more," he says. "Conditions willing, we do expect to host a Fall Dealer Market in Chicago in August 2021, but from this point forward our events will have an online-first strategy, incorporating in-person activities and the related benefits as soon as we are able."
Orgill, the industry's fastest-growing hardlines distributor, was founded in 1847 and is headquartered in Collierville, Tennessee. Orgill serves more than 11,000 retail hardware stores, home centers, professional lumber dealers and farm stores throughout the U.S. and Canada, and in over 50 countries around the world.
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