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NACDS Combines Conferences for ‘Total Store Expo’

LAS VEGAS — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores will combine three of its major conferences into the new NACDS Total Store Expo here this August.

“It has become clear that the total store is the focal point for our members, whether it is a general merchandise product, or a pharmacy product, or the supply chain,” said Jim Whitman, senior vice president, NACDS, who is spearheading the Total Store Expo initiative at NACDS.

The conference, slated for the Sands Expo Aug. 10-13, will combine the association’s Supply Chain & Logistics Conference, its Marketplace Conference and the Pharmacy & Technology Conference. Two other major NACDS conferences, the NACDS Regional Chain Conference and the NACDS Annual Meeting, are scheduled to continue in their present forms.

“With Marketplace being the consumer goods side, and Pharmacy & Technology being that side, we will have the entire store, including the supply chain,” Whitman said. “It will really put you in touch with the distribution side of it, in terms of getting the product from the manufacturer to the warehouses and ultimately onto the floor.

“The focus will be on the entire business.”

Whitman said NACDS has seen “tremendous acceptance” of the conference from the manufacturer community, noting that the show floor was 75% sold out as of mid-December.

“We’ve had plenty of time for our members to implement this into their plans, and we’re pleased with the total team support we’re getting from members,” he said.

He noted that some suppliers have decided to locate in unexpected areas of the show floor, such beverage companies placing booths on the pharmacy side, so they can better position themselves with health-and-wellness-related offerings.

“The beverage people are talking to the pharmacy people, because of the concern about health — whether it is controlling sugar intake, or diabetes or obesity. So it makes sense to be there, and at the same time they want to talk to the beverage buyer about the promotions for next year’s Super Bowl.”

The educational sessions and other aspects of the conferences will be preserved, Whitman pointed out. The conference will continue to host the popular “Meet the Retailer” session before the show opens, for example, which will allow suppliers to travel from table to table to talk to retail teams.

“There’s a lot going on, there’s a lot more to come,” he said, citing a product showcase and an innovation area.

“We have taken the best of what we’ve done at each of the three conferences, and we have tweaked a couple to make them even better.”

The educational sessions will be concurrent for each of the shows, with specific supply chain/logistics sessions, specific consumer goods sessions and specific pharmacy/technology sessions, as well as some sessions that pick up all three themes, and others. Any attendees can attend any of the sessions.

“The whole idea is for this to be a very dynamic, multidimensional show,” Whitman explained. “We’ve always made anything we do to any level attendee, and we are very encouraged about the response we are having from throughout the organizations.

“There will be some top-to-top level meetings, and there might be some packaging people who want to talk to retailers about SKU allocations, or about fixturing options, or lighting, for example.”

In a presentation last year promoting the Total Store Expo, NACDS Chairman Robert D. Loeffler of H-E-B said member chains were committed to the new conference.

“I want to tell you in no uncertain terms that the NACDS chain membership is looking forward to grabbing the NACDS Total Store Expo and running with it,” he said, speaking in particular to suppliers attending the NACDS Regional Chain Conference in Florida.

Chain executives on the NACDS board of directors “will engage energetically in this new meeting format,” he said.

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