WHO'S WHO IN HARDWARE/HOME CENTERS ACE HARDWARE A ce Hardware stores buy as a cooperative, leveraging volume purchases while maintaining their individuality to choose which products to buy. Ace's cooperative strength, therefore, is said to be its ability to sell the key items that most appeal to local shoppers. Field team members and category experts make recommendations to store owners to localize the product Must-Know Terms n n n n assortment, placement and pricing based on market needs. Many stores supplement products they purchase through Ace with items from other suppliers, filling niches specific to their market. At Ace, vendors must first get into the Ace network and then convince store owners individually to buy their products. 68 y SHOPPER MARKETING JULY 2016 n Open Buying Days. An opportunity for vendors to introduce their company and products to Ace's merchant team. Suppliers meet with the appropriate buyer for no more than 20 minutes during which they explain their products in an effort to join the Ace network. Helpful 101. A web-based customer-experience training program that culminates with certification for a store after the location collects a number of positive shopper surveys. The Paint Studio. A boutique-style paint department launched jointly with Valspar Corp. Ace Rewards. The retailer's loyalty program, which offers instant as well as points-based discounts. ACENET Direct. An intranet site that serves as the primary communication platform between Ace and its stores. Product catalogs and special ordering functions are accessed through this program.