Inside This Issue - Opinion
Total Store Expo shows great promise in debut
September 2nd, 2013
by Jeffrey Woldt
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ inaugural Total Store Expo, which took place last month in Las Vegas, was a solid success, despite the occasion bumps in the road that inevitably accompany a first attempt at any undertaking of this scale.
The event, which superseded the association’s pharmacy, front-end and supply chain conferences, brought together more than 5,700 attendees and 650 exhibitors, filling the show floor to capacity. Equally important, it attracted members of the NACDS board, many of whom in years past did not participate in the three separate events dedicated to the disciplines encompassed in Total Store Expo. Their presence and the synergies created by interaction between executives in different fields opened up new opportunities for companies prepared to seize them.
Meet the Retailer, comprised of 45-minute sessions where high-level executives provided a primer for suppliers on how best to do business with a given chain, and Meet the Market, where vendors presented what they have to offer to retailers in a rotating sequence of 10-minute meetings, received high marks. The business programs and 36 insight sessions left attendees with an embarrassment of riches, the only drawback being that the number of presentations occurring simultaneously made it difficult to choose which one to take advantage of.
As always, some grumbling could be heard from exhibitors about the level of activity on the show floor. But for every supplier who expressed a degree of dissatisfaction, there were several who were pleased with what they were able to accomplish. In general, companies that planned ahead and set up appointments got better results than those that didn’t. To help address the issue, NACDS may want to think about integrating Meet the Market with activity on the show floor, having retailers talk with vendors in their booths when the exhibit hall is open.
As the ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." While there’s room for improvement, Total Store Expo was a bold bid by NACDS to restructure its meetings in order to more effectively facilitate business interactions between members. As the event is fine-tuned in coming years, it’s a sure bet that more and more of the potential inherent in the dynamic and innovative Total Store Expo format will be unlocked.