ecrm to focus on core categories

Buying opportunities abound in tobacco, candy and HBC.

Retailers looking for great deals and updates on the newest products hitting shelves are going to want to attend ECRM’s convenience market planning session from Jan. 21-24 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The show, focused exclusively on tobacco, general merchandise and health and beauty care, is expected to attract hundreds of retailers and suppliers from the biggest chains in the country. The event is so attractive because attendees are able to derive a quantifiable value out of the program format, which includes one-on-one buying strategy meetings, called Efficient Program Planning Sessions (EPPS). Each session is conducted in cozy, closed-door surroundings, which alleviates much of the pressure and stress associated with more fast-paced buying environments.

But perhaps what’s most important for retailers is that the cost of the event is picked up entirely by suppliers. Airfare, hotel and meals are completely free.

How it works…

ECRM’s category-focused events allow retail buyers time to review new items, promotions, marketing initiatives and strategic direction. Suppliers and manufacturers present their products and services in one-on-one pre-set meetings. Sessions typically last 20 minutes and take place in suppliers’ suites. The interaction is designed to “replace the sales presentation in the buyer’s office saving both suppliers and buyers time and money,” said Paul Wendling, vice president of business development for Solon, Ohio-based ECRM.

Some events have additional meeting options available that include Power Hall sessions, which are private meetings set within a large ballroom, whereby manufacturers have a private area with room for displays and materials. The Power Hall is scheduled in 10-minute appointments with every retailer. Expo Hall, another option for sellers, is set up much like the Power Hall. However, sellers have a 10×10 booth for displays and materials. This format does not guarantee meetings; rather buyers are scheduled to be in the hall and are free to choose which Expo Hall sellers they meet with.

Techno Driven
To coordinate each EPPS event, ECRM incorporates its proprietary eFusion software. eFusion, along with the company’s array of Web-based tools, prepares buyers and sellers for meetings, enables them to review programs during the event and then helps to bring sales transactions to fruition after the event.

Prior to an EPPS event, suppliers and manufacturers load product information, displays, services or planograms being presented to buyers into the ECRM system. Buyers are then able to scan or enter product, displays or programs of interest into an electronic notepad for any follow-up action that is required. Sellers are provided notepads for the same purpose.

Buyers can select the items of interest and both the buyer and seller can use the system to take detailed notes. The notes and selected products can then be emailed to everyone necessary, including brokers and distributors. After EPPS, each company is given a link to their own customized marketing activity recap in a secured area of ECRM’s online portal

“Because of the technology, processes and custom solutions we’ve created for our clients and events, our convenience market focus brings efficiencies to the attendees. We are beginning to change the way the industry does business,” Wendling said. “Since the meetings are held in private meeting rooms, away from the buyer’s office, the typical office distractions are removed allowing the buyer to focus on the presentations. Our technology takes the guesswork out of the follow up.”

Retailers agree that the one-on-one setting is a constructive atmosphere for conducting business. “ECRM does an excellent job coordinating the entire conference,” said Steve Hendrickson, merchandising manager for Moyle Petroleum Co., after ECRM’s previous convenience marketing event. “Shows feature a mix of vendors, some we were currently doing business with, which we were able to discuss our current programs with during our time. There were several vendors that we had never seen before. It was good to see a different side of the industry and be exposed to products that we don’t normally think about for our type of business.”

Among the dozens of chains already scheduled to attend are 7-Eleven, Cumberland Farms, Flying J, Target, Sunoco and United Refining. More than 50 supplier companies are scheduled to participate.

For registration information visit www.ecrm-epps.com.

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