As it celebrates its 30th anniversary next year, ECRM will be returning to its roots hosting a full roster of in-person sessions across categories within food and beverage, health and beauty care, general merchandise and pharmacy/medical markets.
ECRM was founded in 1994 by Charlie Bowlus as a way for buyers to connect with brands in-person to discover new products and plan their categories. In March 2020, when the pandemic resulted in severe travel restrictions, the company pivoted to virtual meetings using its proprietary ECRM Connect platform, on which it has hosted close to 400,000 meetings to date.
Now that travel restrictions are lifted and buyers and sellers are increasingly seeking in-person meeting opportunities, ECRM has evolved yet again to meet this demand. In total, ECRM has hosted more than 3 million meetings between buyers and sellers since its inception in 1994.
“ECRM is a valued partner, providing Southeastern Grocers with critical tools and opportunities to meet our customers’ ever-changing needs, and we are honored to share in the celebration of this milestone anniversary with the return to in-person meetings,” said Dewayne Rabon, chief merchandising officer for Southeastern Grocers.
“ECRM demonstrated excellence in innovation and advancement with its seamless transition to virtual meetings during the pandemic, enabling us to continue discovering new products to offer our customers. We look forward to expanding upon our virtual connections at our in-person meetings and once again have the opportunity for hands-on product evaluation – an essential component to our merchandising strategy as shopper behaviors and preferences continue to shift.”
All ECRM’s 68 category-specific 2024 sessions will be hosted in hotels and resorts at locations throughout the U.S. and Europe, including Barcelona, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas and New Orleans. In addition to the face-to-face meetings, each session will feature educational programming full of thought leadership and insights, as well as networking opportunities during meals, cocktail receptions, offsite dinners and store tours.
“I’ve been coming to ECRM Sessions since the beginning and have landed several key retail accounts as a result,” said Nilda Oyola, general manager, business development of sales for Mason Vitamins.
“Nothing beats the in-person face time we get during the buyer meetings, and the many networking opportunities really help us build strong industry relationships. Here’s to another successful 30 years, ECRM.”
In addition, ECRM has expanded its roundtable program to all of its sessions. The ECRM Roundtables provide an opportunity for participating buyers and brands to have casual off-the-record moderated discussions on a variety of key industry topics.
Starting this month and throughout 2024, ECRM plans to also feature content reflecting on how the company has evolved to continue serving its retailers, foodservice operators and brands with new technology, high-touch services and fun activities.
“If we’ve learned anything about the company in observing its 30-year history – and having been part of the team for 20 of them – it’s that we are certainly resilient and adaptable,” said Sarah Davidson, EVP of ECRM.
“As our customers’ needs have changed, we’ve changed with them, continuing to find ways of delivering our trademark high-touch service and a wealth of opportunities for product discovery and relationship-building. We are thrilled that we’ll be able to share our anniversary celebrations with our customers in-person.”
Read more grocery store equipment news from The Shelby Report.