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When the National Association of Chain Drug Stores announced in 2011 that it would be changing three of its major conferences to create a new format in two years, the work began in earnest.
As 2013 dawns, Total Store Expo is gathering steam. The conference, slated for Aug. 10-13 at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas, will contain parts of the former Supply Chain and Logistics Conference, the Marketplace Conference, and the Pharmacy and Technology Conference.
But it will have so much more, NACDS Senior Vice President Jim Whitman said.
“What we came upon was the idea of Total Store Expo, taking the supply chain and consumer goods piece and the pharmacy and technology piece and putting that all together in a concept that makes sense,” he said. “Now you’re not only focusing on those areas, but you’re moving into all the auxiliary pieces of conversations that are happening in the total store.”
To that end, the names already on the planning books for Total Store Expo as exhibitors and attendees are not simply Walgreens, CVS, Pfizer or Merck. From Family Dollar to Kroger, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to Sam’s Club and Costco, the retail channels grow. And with Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Mars and Hershey just the start of the major exhibitors on board, Total Store Expo’s reach is evident.
“So the NACDS traditionally is made up of drug, mass, and food and drug,” Whitman said. “But in this now we’re seeing dollar, we’re seeing military PX, and we’re seeing other types of retailers. And it’s based on the quality of exhibitors that are there. There’re lots of choices out there, but people want to be where they want to participate, too.”
And as one of the organizers of the event, Whitman said his goal is to help ensure that there are places and times for exhibitors and attendees, suppliers and retailers, to talk.
“We want to get them all there to have these kinds of conversations with various teams, so they’re able to have the kinds of conversations that are much more productive.”
The event kicks off Saturday with the Meet the Market program, where pre-scheduled sit-down appointments between retailers and first-time exhibitors or exhibitors with new products are offered at no additional cost to participants.
The TSE Meet the Retailer program runs Sunday, with retailers able to host closed sessions with suppliers to discuss their company and their process of doing business.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for a retailer, in this case, to present their company, instead of just their front-end piece or just their pharmacy piece of the company,” Whitman said. “They can present their concept, goals and objectives, then also specific goals and divisions. Even some of the big, large manufacturers sometimes have trouble gathering their arms around the complexity of retailing today.”
That is followed by business programs and educational sessions Monday, another chance for attendees to gain value from Total Store Expo, Whitman said.
“We’re taking pieces of a traditional trade show, but adding educational sessions, business sessions, new products, all these things,” he said. “The educational piece of it, the knowledge piece of it, is a critical component. You come out better informed, better engaged … and that will serve you well in the coming months, too, when you’re back at home at your respective offices.”
And the response, so far, has been very strong, Whitman said. NACDS set up conference calls after Labor Day through the middle of October to discuss the upcoming event. The phones rang off the hook for weeks.
“We gave a lot of opportunities for people to call up and spend some time on it, and we were booked solid,” he said. “I think obviously the response has been tremendous, with almost 75 percent of the space sold out. People appreciated us taking our time rolling this out.”
For more on the expo, visit http://tse.nacds.org.