This year’s National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace Conference featured a sold-out show floor, and many suppliers at the event said it remains an important way to connect with retail customers.


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NACDS Marketplace spurs retailer connections

June 28th, 2010

SAN DIEGO – This year’s National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace Conference featured a sold-out show floor, and many suppliers at the event said it remains an important way to connect with retail customers.

“This has been a fantastic event for us,” said Markwins International vice president of marketing Eric Weeks. “We’ve had great engagement and dialogue with people at all levels of management.”

NACDS officials say they were happy with the 2010 show, which they note many attendees described as the most meaningful conference ever.

“This year’s NACDS Marketplace Conference was an overall success, and the atmosphere was full of energy,” remarks NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven Anderson. “From the Meet the Market program to the education sessions and the exhibit floor, NACDS continues to provide attendees an effective and efficient meeting geared toward their needs.”

More than 200 retail companies, representing over 700 buyers and about 145,000 stores, attended the conference, according to NACDS. The event also attracted more than 450 manufacturers. Altogether, the retailers and suppliers attending the show represented more than $500 billion in annual buying power.

For many suppliers, one of the highlights of the 2010 NACDS Marketplace was the Meet the Market program, which marked its ninth year at the conference. The program was open to all suppliers attending Marketplace for the first time, as well as to those who have introduced new products or services since July 2009 and those who have product launches planned for later this year.

NACDS says that this year’s show featured nearly 8,000 prescheduled, 10-minute meetings, which paired exhibitors with the retail category managers for their products. The program is designed to ensure retail buyers see all the newest items in their categories and give suppliers access to the merchants most interested in their products.

“This was my first time participating in Meet the Market,” noted Michael Ferrara, vice president of sales and customer marketing at Fusion Brands Inc. “It’s a great format. And while it might seem that 10 minutes is not a lot of time to spend with a retailer, it turns out it is just enough time to get them excited about a product and make sure that we’re going to have follow-up appointments. It was very productive.”

The conference also provided suppliers with the opportunity to hear what retailers are looking for from their business partners. A series of “Meet the Retailer/How to Do Business With” sessions let suppliers hear directly from representatives from Costco Wholesale Corp., CVS Caremark Corp., Kmart, Meijer Inc., Shopko Stores Operating Co., Walgreen Co. and Wegmans Food Markets Inc.

Retailers seeking a quick overview of the new items featured at the show could turn to the product showcase located just outside the exhibit floor. The glass cases contained more than 150 products, ranging from health and beauty care items to seasonal and general merchandise.

Fusion Brand’s Ferrara, who has attended the Marketplace show for years while working for different companies, said he has seen an evolution over the years when it comes to new product introductions at the conference.

“Ten years ago this event was the venue where the larger companies showed their new stuff,” he said. “But now there has been a shift, and the real value of Marketplace for retailers is with the smaller, more entrepreneurial companies that are really innovating.”

NACDS, too, was focused on innovation. The organization developed a new web site for the event, with new features aimed at boosting the productivity of both exhibitors and retail buyers. The site allowed attendees to plan their strategies before the event.

During the show, attendees could take advantage of a free mobile phone application with detailed conference information, including speaker backgrounds, an interactive map with routing information for booths, an exhibitor directory and a personalized show schedule. The NACDS mobile app was compatible with most smartphone platforms, including Blackberry, Droid and iPhone.

The 2011 NACDS Marketplace is scheduled to be held June 25 to June 28 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

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