Recap: 10th Annual POOLCORP Retail Summit

A photo taken moments before the Opening Ceremony began.
A photo taken moments before the Opening Ceremony began.

Last week, AQUA attended the 10th annual POOLCORP Retail Summit, a vibrant gathering of about 1,000 people including pool and spa retailers, vendors, POOLCORP staff and more. Over the course of two days, attendees took in some great education, networked with fellow pros and got up close and personal with the latest industry technology. Here, we take a look back at what we learned from the experience.

The model retail store on the floor of the Vendor Showcase.The model retail store on the floor of the Vendor Showcase.

 

1. The future of technology is brighter than ever

As the largest distributor in the industry, POOLCORP always keeps an ear to the ground to track what lies ahead for the pool and spa industry. In his speech the morning before the show floor opened, POOLCORP President and CEO Peter Arvan identified several trends, a big one being the rise of technology. According to POOLCORP’s internal data, there is a market of over 3 million existing pools that do not have any form of automation — a huge market for service techs and renovators.

2. Distributors are releasing more tools to help the professional

Time is the most important resource for pros in our industry, and POOLCORP has tools to help pros save more of it. For example, Swimeet is a database of pre-written social media content that pros can access and share to their page. For pros with a limited marketing department, tools like that are a big win.

On the distribution side, POOLCORP representatives also discussed Bluestreak, a software program that helps pros get in and out of the distribution center quickly with the exact products they need.


(From left to right) Dustin Hinton, IT Consultant and Client & Social Technologies Architect, gives a demo of the NPT Backyard App to AQUA Media Advisor Jared Fish.(From left to right) Dustin Hinton, IT Consultant and Client & Social Technologies Architect, gives a demo of the NPT Backyard App to AQUA Media Advisor Jared Fish.

 

3. POOLCORP is making a big push for augmented reality

The biggest announcement at the show was the NPT Backyard App, in which POOLCORP has invested heavily. The app, currently available on the iOS (with Android just around the corner), uses augmented reality to show customers exactly what their dream pool would look like in their backyard. The intuitive app allows both homeowners and professionals to easily try on different styles and even see how the pool would look at different times of day. They say seeing is believing, and when it comes to selling a pool, tools like the NPT Backyard App do a lot of the heavy lifting.

 

David McLaren of Periodic Products checks in on his product display in The Backyard Store.David McLaren of Periodic Products checks in on his product display in The Backyard Store.

 

4. Rising interest in eco-friendly products

One of the highlights of the Retail Summit is the model store built on the show floor. Each year, this model changes to embrace the latest trends and novel ideas in retail, with ideas coming from within the industry and beyond. As Arvan discussed in his speech, one new feature they included in the model store this year is an eco-friendly product section, created in response to customer demand for green products. 

5. New marketing trends to keep an eye on

In her seminar on digital marketing trends, POOLCORP Director of Marketing Stephanie Marlbrough touched on a couple new subjects retailers should keep an eye on. First is Nextdoor, the popular social network for residential communities. These groups often discuss recommendations for local services, like pool service and repair, and it’s wise for pool pros to keep an eye out for these conversations — hopefully they can be converted into new customers!

Second is the rise of “nano influencers.” Unlike regular influencers who seek to amass a national or international following, nano influencers have a much smaller following (between 1,000 and 10,000 followers), but come with a much closer connection to their audience. They often have a hyperlocal focus, which is key to why they’re a great match for pool and spa professionals — nano influencers are essentially local celebrities whose posts carry a lot of weight among people in your area. Partnering with one can help elevate your brand to new heights.

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