Inside This Issue - Opinion
NACDS Total Store Expo will require engagement
June 25th, 2012
As retailers and suppliers go about their business at the final National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace Conference, which runs through Tuesday at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, it’s not too early to start thinking about the event that will succeed it on the retail calendar in 2013.
Billed as the next generation of trade shows, the NACDS Total Store Expo will encompass everything that now occurs at Marketplace as well as the association’s Pharmacy and Technology Conference and its Supply Chain and Logistics Conference.
The idea behind the change is to augment the strengths of traditional trade shows focused on an exhibit hall with increased opportunities for strategic and tactical exchanges between business partners in an effort to better leverage synergies between the various components of a modern chain pharmacy operation.
“I am absolutely confident that the Total Store Expo will emerge as a true laboratory for innovation,” Steve Anderson, the association’s president and chief executive officer, said at the NACDS Annual Meeting in April. “It will apply to current and future health care challenges the wisdom, technology, consumer insights, products and vision of this great industry.”
With more than a year to go before Total Store Expo’s debut (the event will be held from August 10 through August 13 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas), expectations are already running high, a situation that represents both a challenge and an opportunity for NACDS.
The radical change in the association’s show schedule was prompted, in large part, by years of grumbling by some Marketplace attendees from the supplier community that it was difficult to attract the attention of retailers at the event. The new format is designed to bring together a bigger concentration of retail executives, a move whose chances of success are greatly increased by the scheduling of an NACDS board of directors meeting to coincide with the Total Store Expo.
To make the new show more than the sum of its parts, however, NACDS senior vice president of member programs and services Jim Whitman and his team, who over the years have consistently demonstrated that they know what it takes to put on an impactful industry event, will have to develop ways to convince people whose primary purpose for being in Las Vegas is pharmacy and technology, the front end, or the supply chain to look beyond their normal horizons and interact. Everything possible should be done to encourage attendees to familiarize themselves with all of the show’s major components.
Plenary meetings and some educational sessions should emphasize the places where the various disciplines involved in operating a community pharmacy chain intersect. Having three distinct shows going on simultaneously at the same facility won’t do much to improve on the status quo; only real synergies will allow the vision that Anderson spoke about to come to fruition.
Odds are the NACDS staff, which is very knowledgeable about the industry and attentive to the needs of retailers and suppliers, will figure out how to create them. The success of the Total Store Expo won’t be assured, however, unless the association’s members step up and do their part by sending enough people to the event to take advantage of the opportunities available there.
During his remarks at the Annual Meeting, NACDS chairman Greg Wasson, who is president and chief executive officer of Walgreen Co., stressed the importance of retailer engagement.
“My folks at Walgreens will be there — from pharmacy and supply chain to health and wellness — and we hope you’ll be sending yours too,” he said.
Wasson’s remarks reflect an undeniable fact: The presence of and access to retailers are what make trade shows in the consumer products business a compelling proposition for members of the supplier community. That’s especially true for smaller vendors, which often have a hard time breaking through in their attempts to get a fair hearing from merchants, even though they are an important source of the new concepts that drive incremental sales growth.
If retailers are out in force at the Total Store Expo, suppliers will inevitably follow. That’s something NACDS members shouldn’t lose sight of as they begin to develop a strategy for approaching the Total Store Expo.