February 2008 - ERA Membership

ERA Retailer Benefits-The Value Proposition

By Pamela Colman

The Electronic Retailing Association realizes that direct-to-consumer retailers and marketers have plenty of options when deciding which trade association to join, and moreover, recognize that a true and steadfast value proposition must exist to attract and better serve its members. ERA’s niche, or differentiation, concentrates on the direct response sphere in television, radio and on the Internet. Even as new technologies emerge, creating innovative and compelling content remains the hallmark of our industry. ERA’s ongoing commitment to its rapidly evolving and dynamic membership entails offering benefits that not only present members with a greater competitive edge within the industry, but also a clear return on their investment.

As a result of numerous discussions with retail members, as well as independent research, ERA has developed a number of benefits that enhance members’ knowledge, expertise and legislative needs. ERA’s long-term benefits include: thought-leader educational sessions at conferences and other venues; government affairs work to ensure that key lawmakers and regulatory leaders are provided with the proper information to make educated and informed decisions; the Electronic Retailing Self-Regulatory Program, which helps protect U.S. consumers by offering them a process for filing complaints about misleading or false information in infomercials or other direct response ads, and helps get those advertisements off the air; progressive research through an exclusive agreement with Forrester Research, which offers members a new report every other week on the members-only section of the website; and proprietary research such as the Media Performance Report Card and the new U.S. Hispanic Media Performance Report Card, which offers members a view of the trends in product success. Over the past six months, ERA has augmented its member benefits to further expand the value proposition:

Knowledge Center - Located on the ERA website, the Knowledge Center contains resources such as industry facts and figures, as well as ERA’s commissioned research papers, audio and visual podcasts of conference speakers and their presentations from past educational sessions, and other analytical data. In the fast-paced, direct-to-consumer arena, providing the most current and persuasive information is imperative.

Accreditation Program - As multichannel retailing enters the next generation of new and improved technologies, which is facilitated by evolving consumer behaviors, it is increasingly important for multichannel retailers to focus their expertise and judgment on elevating consumer confidence and promoting professional growth. The ERA Accreditation Program offers recognition to the retailer regarding the quality and value of services they provide. It also strengthens the viability and competitive position of organizations that have employees providing these services. There is persuasive research that demonstrates that professionals who obtain certification produce positive effects on service quality, service outcomes, and company revenues. ERA will launch its Accreditation Program at the 2008 ERA Annual Convention.

Research Studies - Besides offering two new retailer-specific monthly Forrester Research studies, ERA commissions at least two annual custom research reports on timely and retailer-specific issues. ERA is developing a new research study on how consumers are purchasing products online, off-line and in stores, and how they are using television, Internet and radio mediums to do so. This and other research are provided free to members, support ERA’s commitment to furthering best practices, industry credibility and consumer confidence by ensuring that its members have access to relevant educational materials.

Webinars - ERA premiered a series of monthly webinars in January 2008. As retailing enters the next-generation technology and brand marketplace, these interactive webinars will educate members on the latest innovative strategies and emerging trends in the industry. Webinars are free to members. Members not able to attend the webinar can access it in its entirety and at no cost by visiting ERA’s Knowledge Center.

Loyalty Program - ERA has created a rewards plan specifically for the retailer member. For every dollar spent on conference registration, ERA member companies, in good standing for at least one year, would be eligible to receive points good toward free registration at future ERA events. Points are good for one year from date of issue and may be utilized for registration to events, thereby permitting more representatives from companies to attend conferences or educational sessions. The point program redemption period will commence on July 1, 2008.

This is just a sample of what ERA has to offer its members. ERA seeks new and relevant benefits continually and welcomes member suggestions. All services and benefits strive to advance the industry by delivering valuable benefits that will provide superior and forward-thinking programs, educational presentations and relevant materials to enhance not only member industry preeminence, but further, to guarantee that ERA’s value proposition is germane, significant and practical.

Pamela Colman is director of education & benefits development at ERA. She can be reached at (703) 908-1020, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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