At Issues Summit, lessons in supplier relations

New York -- Speaking to an audience of more than 100 retail leaders, Ace Hardware general merchandise manager Ken Goodgame offered thoughts on inventory management and social networking during the 12th annual Drug Store News Issues Summit at the New York Athletic Club, Nov. 30.

One of the key retailing issues was inventory management in a down economy, which has caused many retailers to make more conservative buying decisions.

According to Goodgame, Ace reacted by reducing the number of promotional SKUs throughout the year down to 40 from the previous year’s 250 -- but also increasing the available inventory in its distribution centers by approximately 15,000 SKUs.

The move helped its co-op members who were holding back their working capital.

“We literally gave store owners fewer SKUs to choose from, and we had much better compliance,” he said.

Goodgame commented that the co-op’s online initiatives are still in their infancy, but it has already made its 100,000 SKUs available to customers through ace.com, and built a following of 2.5 million fans on facebook.com.

“We’re really pushing this envelope as quickly as we can given the constraints of operating