This spring, Meijer plans to turn the spotlight on suppliers in its Midwestern market area with its first virtual Localization Summit.
The online-only event, scheduled for April 1, aims to give local businesses across Meijer’s six-state footprint a chance to showcase their offerings to its merchants and buyers, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based supercenter chain said yesterday. Product categories for the summit include grocery — also covering fresh, deli and bakery — as well as beauty and personal care, baby care, and over-the-counter health and wellness.
“We are proud to be a Midwestern retailer and want to carry products that highlight our communities,” Peter Whitsett, executive vice president of merchandising and marketing at Meijer, said in a statement. “Each Meijer store should represent its customers and the community that makes those customers unique. This event gives us the chance to source products from our customers’ hometowns, which makes their shopping experience even more meaningful.”
To participate in the Meijer Localization Summit, businesses that manufacture or grow retail-ready products in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan or Wisconsin must apply online by Feb. 19. Meijer is partnering with Solon, Ohio-based Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing (ECRM) and RangeMe, its product discovery tool subsidiary, to host the event through the ECRM Connect virtual platform.
After applications are submitted, Meijer teams will review and select vendors they would like to meet in the virtual summit. Suppliers not chosen still will be accessible via the RangeMe registration tool and may be reviewed by Meijer merchants again in the future, the retailer said. Local vendors carrying services or products outside of the summit categories can submit their information for consideration through Meijer’s prospective vendor web page.
“Many small, local businesses offer great products but can be hesitant to approach a major retailer because they are not necessarily ready to distribute to hundreds of stores,” explained Jamie Akemann, group vice president of global sourcing, indirect procurement, supplier diversity and product Quality at Meijer. “This is the perfect opportunity for those businesses. The point of this summit is to bring in local businesses and accommodate what they can do now, while also building a partnership to help them grow in the future.”
The Localization Summit builds on Meijer’s Supplier Diversity Summit in November, a virtual event in which the company’s merchants met with almost 250 suppliers from across the country. Diverse-owned businesses participating in the summit included certified minority-, LGBTQ-, woman-, veteran- and disability-owned vendors offering products in the grocery, beauty and personal care, general merchandise, and OTC health and wellness categories. ECRM/RangeMe also teamed with Meijer to hold the summit.
Meijer noted that the two virtual events reflect its efforts to enhance business partner diversity and spur growth in the communities served by its 256 supercenters and grocery stores.
“Offering local products has always been an important part of what we do at Meijer, but now we want to take it up a notch and accelerate our efforts," according to Don Sanderson, group vice president of foods at Meijer. “It means a lot to our customers to know they are supporting a local business, especially when it comes to food. It’s nice to know that what you’re putting in your body was grown or made right in your own back yard.”