ECRM’s first-ever virtual meeting managed to deliver, according to attendees of the event, which saw more than 70 retail buyers participate in 630 digital face-to-face meetings. The virtual Healthy Living, Vitamin and Nutrition Program was the first to go live on ECRM’s recently developed platform, which attendees praised for its usability.
ECRM has been one of the most prominent organizations looking to develop remote solutions for business throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“ECRM has completely transformed the way they are doing business, quickly pivoting into an easy-to-use, convenient online platform for both buyers and sellers,” said Jeff Currie, category manager for health and beauty at Wakefern Food. “It was definitely a valuable experience for me, and I look forward to attending future digital sessions with ECRM soon."
In addition to facilitating face-to-face meetings, ECRM’s platform offered users the ability to take meeting notes, review products and supplier capabilities, rank meetings on a one- to five-star scale and communicate follow up timelines. Users also were able to share presentations about their products and how they might fit with a retailer.
“I used the notes really heavily,” said Kate Soffe, category manager for beauty and wellness at Overstock.com. “It was really easy to review them afterwards because it was all in one place on the follow up site. The star ratings were also helpful, and they enabled me to sort and locate my top opportunities, and in our case, we were able to send follow up emails the day after we were finished.”
Soffe noted that the benefit of the virtual sessions is the ability to participate in additional programs, making room for more product discovery. “I was impressed with the number of qualified vendors I was able to meet with, and I do see the benefits of in-person sessions, but it’s not easy to travel a lot for work. The virtual will enable me to participate in more sessions, so a healthy mix of both in the future will be ideal.”
ECRM said that its customer success team worked closely with participants to offer platform support and help with building company profiles, setting buyer needs and objectives, supplier products and capabilities and uploading presentations. Each participant went through a dry run with the platform to familiarize themselves with the tools.
“It was seamless,” says Bob Richardson, director of customer and industry development at Clorox, one of the sellers participating in the session. “The benefit of being able to take the notes, me typing instead of writing, was great. And then the transition from one meeting to the next is quick. That actually went quite well.”
ECRM said that it plans to host more than 50 virtual sessions across various categories throughout the rest of the year.
“We’re thrilled we were able to deliver on our promise of a virtual solution that would enable buyers and sellers to continue conducting business during this time of restricted travel,” said Craig Chmielowicz, senior vice president of health and beauty care for ECRM. “Based on participant feedback, these virtual sessions, in combination with our in-person sessions and Efficient Supplier Introductions, will enable our customers to engage each other when, where and how it best suits their needs.”