ECRM has unveiled a new virtual communications platform that the company will use to enable face-to-face virtual meetings between retailers and suppliers. ECRM owns the platform RangeMe, which helps bridge store brand suppliers with retailers.
The new ECRM platform would enable all future ECRM sessions to continue as planned, some virtually and in person when possible.
“Adversity drives innovation,” said Greg Farrar, CEO of ECRM. “The challenges of the pandemic showed everybody the power of virtual meetings and the opportunity to leverage digital in a more effective way. We believe our platform delivers an experience that is as close to in person as possible, providing the high-tech yet personalized service that our clients have come to expect.”
ECRM said it designed the platform specifically to deliver the same experience as an in-person session to best respond to the industry’s need to continue product sourcing and category planning in a quick and efficient remote manner. Each virtual session will feature various resources to help buyers and suppliers make the most of their experience, including RangeMe onboarding, best practices information, relevant market research and educational programs.
ECRM launched its initial virtual offering, Efficient Supplier Introductions, or ESIs, in early March, offering a series of virtual supplier presentations in a “one-to-many” format that supported the buyers’ need to continue product discovery. Store Brands covered how RangeMe and ECRM used the virtual sessions to enable supplier-retail meetings in the wake of canceled trade shows
“With more than 1,000 buyers participating in our ESIs over the last few weeks, it is clear that the offering has filled a need in the market as retailers and suppliers are looking for introductions and sourcing solutions, perhaps now more than ever,” said Kurt Repola, senior vice president of ECRM. “We were also able to quickly gather a tremendous amount of feedback, and we learned that buyers still placed immense value on the one-on-one meetings with suppliers that are a staple of our category programs and, in these times, they were missing that next stage, critical component of their review process. Over the last few weeks, we have been diligently working to expand our platform and develop a virtual capability that matches our in-person experience.”
The initial virtual sessions garnered a positive response from users.
“I was really wowed by my initial virtual experience with ECRM — just how smoothly it went,” said Kristen Quinn, channel account manager at UNFI. “I’m very much looking forward to the new platform with its enhanced prep and follow-up capabilities, as well as the ability to meet one-on-one with suppliers in live, interactive remote meetings. These virtual interactions will help me continue to conduct my daily business needs, while still discovering and connecting with suppliers in an efficient and effective way."
As with in person ECRM sessions, sellers will have several levels of participation, each consisting of one-on-one virtual engagement with buyers. “The one-on-one digital interactions will let us gauge each individual buyer’s interest and talk to them on a more personal level,” said Pamela Heyward, founder of SOS Life Sciences.
“These virtual sessions and RangeMe enable ECRM to continue its role as an extension of buyers’ and suppliers’ businesses,” Farrar said. “Moving forward, they will become an integral part of our offerings. By extending our technology platform to include virtual meetings, we’re now able to serve our customers whenever, wherever and however will best fulfill their needs.”