To help retailer and wholesaler participants get the most out of their FMI Connect experience, FMI is initiating a new service called FMI Connect Communities.
Thirteen Communities have been formed, each with a suggested itinerary of educational sessions and events related to specific areas of interest.
“FMI Connect Communities will become the backbone of the preeminent yearly gathering of the grocery industry,” FMI said in announcing the new initiative.
The 13 communities are:
- Food Safety
- Fresh Foods
- Future Connect Alumni
- Health & Wellness
- Independent Operator
- Private Brands
- Senior Merchandising
- Store Managers
- Store Operators
- Supermarket Chefs
- Supply Chain
Retailers interviewed by SN on Tuesday said they had a range of goals at FMI Connect, from exploring fresh foods at the co-located United Fresh conference, to looking at the latest technologies.
Jeff Pedersen, SVP, member services, Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Kan., said he’s seeking out technology sessions to stay on top of the latest trends.
“We’re looking at the retail technology, to see what’s out there,” he told SN. “We’re looking at technology for online shopping, ad-building, CRM [customer relationship management], mobile technology, and the discussion on print media. What do you replace it with?”
Pedersen said he’s also looking to gain more understanding of the technologies available to better communicate — internally at AWG, with the wholesaler’s independent members, and externally, with customers.
He said the rapid evolution of technology is one reason he’s in favor of the return to an annual gathering of suppliers and retailers at one industry trade show.
“With things like technology, and with fresh, things change so fast it is important to meet every year,” he said.
He also said he appreciates the wide range of educational sessions available — more than 70 at FMI Connect 2014 — to help the company’s employees and independent members stay on top of their games.
“As we bring more people into the business, we have to make sure we are providing them with the information they need,” Pedersen said.
Another retailer, who asked not to be identified, said he was here to learn about new ways of merchandising fresh foods.
“Especially with consumers being interested in prepared foods, it’s important to make sure we are doing all we can to provide what they are looking for,” he said. “It’s also important to make sure that consumers interested in fresh are also shopping the rest of the store.”
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In her welcoming remarks at Tuesday afternoon’s keynotes session, Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO, FMI, and Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh Produce Association, highlighted the need for total store collaboration, as well as collaboration between retailers and suppliers and between the UFPA and FMI.
“Co-operation between FMI and United Fresh is a strategic and intentional effort to bring these member groups together to share ideas,” Sarasin said.
Added Stenzel, “I believe working together we can help all our members excite and nourish our customers.”
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