Topics include redefining shoppers’ digital and physical experiences.
In a recent column, Chain Drug Review editor David Pinto described the 2019 NACDS Annual Meeting this way: “In an ever-changing retail universe, a world where today’s bright hope is tomorrow’s used-to-be, the [NACDS] Annual Meeting, held each spring, remains the standard by which retail meetings are, or should be, judged.
“To borrow a well-known phrase, to those who regularly attend the NACDS Annual Meeting, no explanation is necessary; to those who do not, no explanation is possible.”
The same is true for the NACDS Total Store Expo. The industry will unite in Boston, August 24 to August 26, for the natural progression of the work accomplished at the NACDS Annual Meeting, and for new opportunities.
Even if — as David Pinto puts it — no explanation is necessary, I feel compelled to attempt an explanation for the extraordinary value that the NACDS Total Store Expo presents.
When the NACDS Total Store Expo was announced in 2011, and when it was launched in 2013, the power of the event was known to be its ability to bring together diverse team members from retail and supplier companies. The key is having pharmacy, health and wellness, CPG, supply chain, operations, and many, many other professionals together at one place and at one time.
Why is this so important? It comes down to efficiency and experience.
Consider the efficiency of the NACDS Total Store Expo. This industry event would present tremendous value if this point were considered on its own: Retailers and suppliers have the opportunity to conduct an incredible number of meetings over the course of a very short time. However, the value related to efficiency goes much deeper than that. In addition, entire teams have the opportunity to conduct meetings that overflow in quality and quantity alike.
It is commonly known that the larger suppliers have representatives who live and work near the headquarters of the larger retailers. In this way, they have the opportunity to collaborate on an ongoing basis. However, only at the NACDS Total Store Expo can this collaboration feature the insights and engagement of a more full array of team members across disciplines.
Attendees tell NACDS that these meetings often prove to be game-changers, and that they otherwise would not occur — depriving these partners of their benefits. Entire teams, from companies of all types and sizes, can meet with a highly significant number of business partners throughout the NACDS Total Store Expo.
Beyond efficiency, tremendous value exists in the ability of entire teams to experience the conference’s offerings together. The NACDS Total Store Expo is much like a laboratory. From the Insight Sessions to the Exhibit Hall, collaborators within companies, and across companies, can experience and discuss new ideas and concepts instantaneously. This creates an explosion of interaction that cannot be replicated in a conference room.
I am often asked, “What will be new at this year’s NACDS Total Store Expo?” That is a question that goes directly to the experiences that teams will have as they immerse themselves in the conference together. So much of “what is new” at the conference is a direct result of the new products and services that exhibitors put on display. The same is true of the priorities and strategic direction that are shared by retailers. Through their very engagement, the participating companies create “what is new.”
In addition, the topics presented in the Insight Sessions and in the other formal conference programing are selected strategically. The focus is on presenting compelling content that is best experienced on a cross-functional basis.
Topics covered in this year’s programming include: redefining shoppers’ digital and physical experiences; eliminating friction for mobile-first shoppers; retail differentiation strategies; consumer-empowered health; the ever-changing multicultural consumer market; current thinking on purpose-driven brands; the outlook for CBD; pharmacy’s opportunities in preventive care; pharmacy regulatory compliance; and much, much more.
The opportunities for teams to experience all of this together — and to discuss and debate it real time — create a tremendous opportunity for all those involved.
Thinking again about David Pinto’s words — that for those who engage regularly in NACDS meetings “no explanation is necessary” — I think that has a lot to do with the fact that there is something unique about these meetings for each company. All of the conversations that take place at the NACDS Total Store Expo are probably quite different from each other, because companies are pursuing strategies that are somewhat unique to their companies.
From the standpoint of the NACDS Total Store Expo, what matters is that diverse team members are being brought together in an efficient way, which fosters unbeatable experiences. That is the explanation that I feel compelled to offer — even if one is not needed.
Steve Anderson is president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.