Trade Associations and Resources
Membership organizations exist for every specialty of retail goods and throughout the retail chain. Listed below are descriptions of just a few of the retail trade associations and the benefits they offer.
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers operating in the global market. Its mission is to promote and enhance competitiveness, productivity and profitability in the global market by minimizing regulatory, legal, commercial, political and trade restraints.
Founded in 1917, DMA is the leading world-wide association of businesses using and supporting multichannel direct marketing. DMA promotes industry standards for responsible marketing, including online, and provides research and education for improving results. Membership is through the company level, and provides access to networking, government advocacy, research, and education.
Representing itself as the voice of small business, NFIB has chapters in 50 states. In addition to free webinars on small business issues, members benefit from the combined purchasing power of the association for discounts on workers’ compensation and health insurance, as well as shipping and office supplies. Members also have access to business resources with answers pertinent to small business, such as starting and running a business, labor and staffing issues, legal questions, marketing and advertising queries, and financing and accounting help.
The NGA represents the independent grocery retailer, and the wholesalers and cooperatives that support them. NGA defines "independent" as more a type of ownership than of size, characterizing their members as the true "entrepreneurs" of the retail grocery industry. NGA provides its members with a secure, members-only portal with access to research from their foundation; an employment audit checklist; legislative position papers; and a hotline to their labor law firm. Additional member-only benefits include free newsletter subscriptions; participation on councils; discounts on grocery store products and payment processing solutions.
The NRF is the largest retail trade association and has an international membership representing all areas of the industry and all sizes of companies. In the U.S., the NRA’s membership includes over 1.6 million companies, and with chain restaurants and industry partners, employs over 25 million workers and generates sales of more than $2.3 trillion per year.
Membership dues are based on annual revenues, so even the small business retailer can join at a reasonable level and receive benefits for everyone in the company far beyond the membership cost. In addition to powerful government advocacy, the U.S.-based, non-food retail membership includes exclusive access to industry trends reports and benchmarking research; a downloadable library of standard RFPs for various retail applications; legislative alerts; daily retail industry updates; newsletters; discounted access to educational conferences and seminars; and networking through committee memberships.
The digital retail community has its own trade association at Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation. Designed as a forum for executives to share information and insights, Shop.org membership is by company, with discounts for those who are also NRF members. A one-year Entrepreneurship membership is available for companies in business less than three years, and with revenues of less than $2 million. Members have access to industry resources including whitepapers and best practices; free job postings; webinars; and professional networking groups. The organization’s daily publication of topical news, Smartbrief, is also available to non-members.
Retail Industry Resources
From marketing to merchandising, to financing to customer service, today's retail entrepreneur must know it all. Whether operating in the mall or the virtual mall, resources exist to help you find pertinent information quickly and easily so you can concentrate on your business. Here are some summaries and links:
This well-known national organization provides accreditation standards for retail companies willing to resolve consumer complaints in good faith. The online site also has a resource library for businesses, and other programs and services such as fraud prevention training, and a weekly newsletter, TrustBrief.
The Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection Business Center provides online information for businesses to ensure compliance with federal laws. Guidance is provided on compliance by topic such as Advertising and Marketing, Credit and Finance, and Privacy and Security. A legal resources section contains advisory opinions, rules and in-depth legal information, and videos and podcasts are available to use for employee training and compliance.
The SBA provides general information on starting and running a business, including how to secure small business grants and loans, marketing information, and business laws and regulations. In addition to podcasts and online training, SBA has local offices and other resources to assist entrepreneurs, such as its Small Business Development Centers and its SCORE mentor program.
This online division of Bloomberg's Business Week includes a Small Business portal with articles, videos, blogs, and daily news on topics of interest to small business, including finance, innovation, technology, and management.