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Anderson: Join Total Store Expo ‘conversation’

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NACDS CEO says chains and suppliers can 'forge new ground'

When it comes to addressing front-end topics beyond the pharmacy, I could argue that many other words prove more effective than “conference” in describing the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Total Store Expo (TSE). For example, the word “conversation” comes to mind — conversation of the high-caliber, high-quality, highly collaborative and highly constructive kind.

NACDS functions highly effectively in bringing together the right people not only to conduct business, but to conduct conversations that forge new ground for chains and suppliers alike.

Steve Anderson_NACDS

Steve Anderson, NACDS

With the 2017 NACDS Total Store Expo in action, I want to share a few thoughts on the state of the conversation at NACDS on issues of relevance to all aspects of the ­industry.

Showcase of innovation

Attendees at the first TSE, in 2013, still tell me that they first saw a 3-D printer in action at that event. That is because NACDS committed from the genesis of TSE to establish this annual gathering as a true showcase of innovation.

You will see that commitment play out yet again at this fifth-anniversary TSE, with a focus on the emerging and evolving topics of robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and more.

I invite you to take time to visit the Vision 2028 attraction in the Exhibit Hall. This concept has succeeded in fostering conversations among colleagues, business partners and new contacts about topics that could shape the industry’s landscape for years and decades to come. We also have planned Insight Sessions that complement the topics that you will find in Vision 2028.

The Product Showcase area also provides a tremendous opportunity — in addition to the exhibits and Vision 2028 — to see what is new from innovative supplier companies. Exhibitors also can hear firsthand from retailer representatives about their plans for the future in the revealing Meet the Retailer sessions.

Digital dialogue

I want to give the NACDS Retail Advisory Board (RAB) credit for beginning a conversation about digital marketing that has been opening eyes each year since 2013 — for as long as TSE itself. The NACDS RAB makes recommendations to the NACDS board of directors on the association’s front-end programming, and they hit the mark in urging a focus on this topic.

A.T. Kearney again will help to lead the conversation on this topic at a TSE Insight Session. One of the fascinating aspects of our work together on this topic is that we have seen digital marketing progress along the continuum toward maturity, a continuum with much opportunity yet to be realized.

NACDS Total Store Expo_2017Also, hosting a conversation about digital marketing within this event proves ideal for another reason: Effective collaboration between chains and suppliers stands as one of the core ingredients for successful strategic planning and execution in these areas.

Our sustained work has yielded, and will continue to yield, real results for the companies who leverage their learnings through this project.

Appealing to today’s consumers and team members

NACDS’ approach to assessing Millennials’ impact on markets and workforces is somewhat different from that of other observers. Much of that difference lies in the fact that NACDS does not just observe Millennials; rather, we engage them.

First, the previously mentioned NACDS RAB has had highly interesting conversations with Millennial business leaders from cutting-edge technology companies, exploring ways that their products and services can potentially alter industry dynamics in fundamental ways. The benefits of their thinking can be seen across the entire TSE program, including the topics presented at TSE.

In addition, the NACDS RAB has conducted highly insightful discussions with Millennials — as shoppers and as employees — about what they find appealing and advantageous when shopping in stores, and about why they have chosen retail as a career and what motivates them as they pursue their future in the industry. Again, the findings serve to constantly refine the topics that NACDS brings to the table for industry discussion at our events.

Further, we are working with Millennials to evaluate how we market and execute the TSE. We believe that one of the core advantages of TSE is that it has proven to be a highly popular venue for the next generation to learn, grow and succeed — even as the forum remains tremendously strong in top-to-top, senior-level discussions among business partners.

Corporate social responsibility at forefront

Over the course of the more than 10 years that I have had the chance to serve this association as president and chief executive officer, it has been clear to me that among the many commonalities uniting chains and suppliers is the commitment to doing business in ways that advance and sustain our society.

NACDS chairman Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and president of Walgreens, emphasized this point among core priorities when he spoke at the 2017 NACDS Annual Meeting. You can expect additional perspective — and action — on this topic when our chairman addresses TSE attendees at the Sunday Business Program.

Retired Army Gen. Colin Powell also will serve as an ideal standard bearer for this theme when he speaks at the Sunday Business Program. Among Powell’s extensive contributions to our nation and to our world, he pioneered America’s Promise Alliance, formerly America’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth. Powell’s leadership has helped children in communities across the country achieve their potential so that they, too, may lead lives of service.

I am very excited that efforts related to corporate social responsibility comprise a significant part of the NACDS Future Value Targeting Initiative, a new and supplemental aspect of NACDS’ already vigorous strategic plan. As we look to the future, NACDS’ existing and redoubled focus on corporate social responsibility will reflect the spirit and the commitment of NACDS chain and associate members alike.

Health & wellness forms core of total-store discussions

I want to reaffirm the creative vision out of which TSE was born. The NACDS board of directors stated its ambition clearly: to create a forum for cross-functional conversations among diverse business partners so that new opportunities could be identified and pursued. The idea that the entire store could be leveraged more effectively for health and wellness offerings served as a motivating force in the earliest days of the planning for TSE.

You will see this play out throughout the program of the 2017 TSE. You will have the chance to explore diverse topics directly relevant to health and wellness, through diverse perspectives of consumer products, pharmacy, broader health care topics, technology and more.

With your decision to engage in TSE, you are joining the conversation that has the unique power to transform your company, your career, the industry, and the well-being of consumers and of society. We look forward to listening, sharing and learning with you at TSE and throughout the year — and years — ahead.

Steve Anderson is the president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.


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