The 2016 NACDS Total Store Expo in Boston drew some 5,500 participants and 735 exhibitors, and the annual event “makes a real positive difference in terms of our businesses’ ability to serve our customers,” according to National Association of Chain Drug Stores chairman Martin Otto.
“What we are accomplishing together can ultimately make a tremendous difference on issues that are posing significant challenges to our country,” said Otto, who serves as chief merchant and chief financial officer of H-E-B.
Besides advocacy on behalf of retail pharmacy, NACDS’ mission includes creating a marketplace for suppliers and retailers to get together.
The expo’s Meet the Market served as a venue for more than 7,000 meetings, jump-starting business transactions that flourished throughout the conference. Held before the opening of the show floor at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, the program introduced retailers to the latest products, technology and services. Exhibitors presented their company and products to retailers through a series of 10-minute appointments arranged by NACDS.
Once the show floor opened, a main attraction was the future-looking Vision 2027. The exhibit from multiple companies provided insights into what lies ahead for retailing and trading partner collaboration, with a blend of technology, interactivity and even celebrity. Vision 2027 was “a tremendous part” of “forward thinking at this year’s event,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steve Anderson.
Addressing attendees, Anderson spoke about NACDS’ effectiveness in putting the “public” back into public policy. He cited programs that reflect the association’s “authenticity of mission and effectiveness in action” in addressing such challenges as prescription drug abuse and access, improving patient care, fostering retailer-supplier partnerships that benefit consumers, and increasing engagement in the political arena.
He also described NACDS Foundation initiatives that focus on advancing public health, including education related to the Zika virus and increased screening for HIV and hepatitis C.
There are countless examples of how NACDS has put the public back into public policy, with perhaps the most significant being recent advocacy efforts supporting legislation addressing the opioid addiction crisis, Anderson said. He referenced two recent bipartisan and NACDS-backed pieces of legislation signed into law by the president this year: the Ensuring Patient Access and Drug Enforcement Act and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. By actively addressing the issue of opioid addiction, NACDS put patients first, ensuring zero tolerance for drug abuse while also assuring patients have access to medications they legitimately need.
“Ten years ago, we weren’t winning a lot of public policy victories,” Anderson commented. “Members of Congress viewed our members as retailers that sold drugs in addition to many different products that are found in our stores, but they never really viewed us as part of the health care delivery system. So the board of directors said that we were going to revitalize NACDS and move in a different direction.”
Business sessions at the expo included the program titled “I Got on the Shelf, Now What?” featuring Mark Young, founder and CEO of Jekyll & Hyde Advertising. Other topics ranged from branding to the supply chain to pharmaceutical trends.
Daymond John of “Shark Tank” spoke with Meet the Market participants, advising them on how to refine the all-important elevator pitch. First-time exhibitors benefited from the insights of three panels of NACDS Retail Advisory Board members, who shared their hard-earned insights from decades of industry success.
The popular Product Showcase gave retailers looking for new merchandising ideas the opportunity to preview products in advance of the floor’s opening, and again in showcases on the floor, giving them invaluable exposure. Product Showcase winners included items in categories from baby care to home health care.