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Face-to-face interaction key to TSE

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As I look forward to the Total Store Expo in Boston, it is important to remember that this is the first show in three years. A lot has happened over these last several years. There has been such a turnover of employees in all companies, and many companies have had to adjust to a new way of doing business. With this in mind, it would be advisable that we all lay out a strategy as to how to best accomplish our goals attending the TSE.

Bob Kwait

Bob Kwait

TSE was originally called Marketplace, and it has been held successfully by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores for many years. This is a show where the suppliers can present physical products to the retailers, and it gives the retailers the opportunity to meet the manufacturer to review issues or products suppliers present to them. The show also provides an opportunity for the retailer at buyer level to meet with suppliers that they may have never met before. Therefore, it is very important for suppliers to make appointments with as many retailers as possible, whether it be through individual appointments or through Meet the Market. Gaining as much exposure as possible is very important to the supplier and the retailer.

Since the pandemic, I feel that there has been a lack of communication on a personal level in all aspects and certainly between suppliers and retailers. TSE allows face-to-face communication that been very limited and even nonexistent at times over the past three years.

New products and innovations are coming out at a rate I have not seen before, and with the increase in online shopping it has not been easy for brick-and-mortar stores to compete. Therefore, personal interaction between the supplier and the retailer is critical, particularly for brick-and-mortar retailers. I believe most consumers still want to visit stores to shop. But the format of the stores will need to continue to change in order to engage the consumer and offer them an opportunity to look at the products at store level before buying versus online shopping. The age of the consumer does play a role in this as well. Younger consumers have no problems ordering online, while older consumers still have an interest in shopping in stores. It provides them an opportunity to get out, communicate, and see and touch the product at store level.

As we prepare for TSE, as a supplier or as a retailer, I hope that you meet with as many people as you can. TSE provides a tremendous opportunity to further current relationships and to develop new ones as well. Keep an open mind and look toward the future. I expect this to be an outstanding show for everyone. Particularly as it relates to new companies and new product innovations that seem to be out there like never before. Much success!

Bob Kwait is chairman of Kwait & Associates/Bob Kwait Consulting Group.


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