ECRM Launches Retailer Share Groups at EPPS Meetings  3/17/2017

Prior to joining ECRM, I spent more than 20 years as a trade media editor, and during that time one of my favorite activities was bringing retailers together for share group discussions on a variety of topics. (In fact, about a dozen of the 80+ share groups I've moderated over the years were held at ECRM EPPS meetings!).

The reason I enjoyed them so much was simple: What better way is there to learn about an industry than by discussing it with others who are actively participating in it? And as a moderator of these share groups, participating in these discussions provided me with an inside view of what was important to these industry members. Each comment was gold, from a reporter’s perspective.

Which is why I’m pleased to announce that ECRM has launched a series of retailer share groups at select EPPS meetings throughout the year. The goal of these share groups is to bring buyers and category managers from large retail chains together to learn from the strongest information resources available to them – each other. 

The share groups are designed to be intimate gatherings of no more than 10 retail companies, in a private and casual setting – typically a boardroom -- for an off-the-record discussion of non-proprietary topics that are relevant to their businesses and the categories they manage. While I may report on some of the key learnings from the group, no quotes from the discussion are directly attributed to any participant, and while we will have some topics to guide us, it is the retailers themselves who determine the flow of the conversation; in essence, it is truly
by the retailers and for the retailers.

In addition, we are creating a private LinkedIn Group just for participants of these share groups, so they can keep the conversation going year-round. And as the group continues to grow with each share group, so will the variety of insights.

Our first Retailer Share Group was held during our Winter Snack and Dry Grocery EPPS last month, and included buyers and category managers from
Kroger, Meijer, Price Chopper, Save-A-Lot and Walgreens. It focused on four key areas: future retail outlook by channel; the evolving role of buyers and category managers; the next generation of buyers and category managers; and supplier relations.

What was interesting to note was the fact that, while the retail participants came from different channels, they learned that they had more in common than they realized when it came to many industry challenges, like the encroachment of online retail and incorporating digital solutions, developing locally-relevant assortments, accomplishing more with less resources and time, and optimizing supplier collaboration efforts.

On top of all this – and most important to me – the participants had fun, and enjoyed the opportunity to network with each other.

Below are two testimonials from share group participants:

The ECRM Retailer Share Group during the Winter Snack & Dry Grocery EPPS was valuable time spent with industry peers from different formats, all with the same goal – to capture more share. Trade secrets were not shared nor anything proprietary for that matter; It was an opportunity to collaborate on what are some best practices within the industry -- from vendor/supplier relationships to the changing role of the buyer.

Most importantly, we each were able to uncover a common theme among all participants -- that buying and category management is not an easy job and requires a great deal of knowledge and willingness to get out of our comfort zones and continue to try new things as the categories and customers evolve.

-- Adam Salzwedel, Own Brand Lead – Beverages/Cookie/Cracker/Salty Snacks/Bread | Grocery-DSD

This was my favorite part of the event. It was great to hear what challenges other retailers face as well as hear their day to day operations. The questions involved provoked great discussions, and I hope to be a part of this again one day.

--Ashley Clapsaddle, Grocery Merchandising, The Kroger Co.

If you are attending an upcoming EPPS, and would like to participate in a share group, I’d love to hear from you! Email me at

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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