ECRM: Process, Platform & People Connecting Buyers and Sellers  7/5/2016


ECRM is not an event company – not in the typical sense of the word. Yes, we do bring together buyers and sellers for face-to-face meetings more than 60 times a year for the purpose of new product sourcing and category reviews. But we do a lot more than that, and the term, “event” (and its counterpart, “show”) just don’t accurately reflect all of it.

What is ECRM, then? In actuality, we’re a business process solutions provider that streamlines and optimizes the sourcing of products for buyers and sellers across a variety of categories. The face-to-face meeting component, which we refer to as Efficient Program Planning Sessions (EPPS) are just a piece of it – the tip of the iceberg that’s easily visible above the water. Below the surface though, hidden from view, is the much larger foundation that supports it, and for ECRM, this foundation consists of staff and technology behind the scenes that support a process that enables our buyers and sellers to make the most of those in-person meetings.

Taken together, ECRM’s solutions – the entire iceberg, so to speak – are driven by its process, platform, and people.

Process
The process begins as far as a year out from an EPPS when a buyer or seller registers to participate. New registrants are assigned an account manager, who takes them through the meeting format, provides a login to the MarketGate platform, and guides them on how to enter their information and documents onto the prep site. Schedules are developed based on each buyer’s and seller’s categories, requirements and objectives and further tweaked as the in-person meeting approaches. During an EPPS, attendees access their ECRM-issued iPad, on which the ECRM Connect App enables them to access the MarketGate platform information as well as information relevant to their meetings (more on this below). Post-EPPS, the buyers and sellers -- with the assistance of their account managers -- execute their follow-ups from their meetings.(Click here for details on ECRM’s Process)


Platform
I’ve been writing about retail technology as a journalist for 17 years prior to joining ECRM, and the platform the company has built and evolved to support the engagement of its buyers and sellers still blows me away. It helps our buyer and seller customers prepare for their meetings, capture relevant information from each meeting, and follow up afterward. What’s more, it’s an awesome contact management system for users. 

And the ECRM Connect iPad App enables participants to truly get the most out of their face-to-face meetings. The app is accessed via iPads that are provided to every EPPS buyer and seller, and includes all of the relevant information they need, including schedules, relevant documents, educational session schedules, logistics information, and their travel schedules. During an EPPS meeting, they can use it to capture notes on the discussion, rate their meetings, and snap product photos for easy follow-up post-EPPS. 

The Connect App is integrated with the MarketGate tool, so the information recorded during meetings can be accessed via MarketGate year after year, enabling users to track their meeting progress over time. In addition, ECRM’s Product Library is an all-inclusive product management tool we developed to help suppliers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors and brokers facilitate product reviews and program execution during ECRM meetings and all year-round. 

On top of this, last year ECRM launched its Content Gateway and YouTube Channel to provide thought leadership content to buyers and sellers in the markets we cover, and we also boosted our social media presence to drive year-round engagement with them.

People
From the moment a buyer or seller registers for an EPPS, people are a critical component of ECRM’s solutions. Account managers are the go-to people for all a registrant’s needs, whether it’s event preparation on MarketGate, assistance at the meetings, or following up once a meeting concludes. 

At the meetings themselves, ECRM staff are everywhere. Client service representatives are stationed at the meeting rooms to ensure meetings start and end on time, and are also on hand for any attendee needs. EPPS tech staff support all technology needs, schedulers optimize EPPS appointments, the logistics team makes sure supplier’s products are on-hand and coordinate distribution of product samples to buyers; and the hospitality staff serves as the command center for the entire EPPS. In reality, though, one only has to grab anyone with an ECRM shirt and they will be assisted on the spot. At most traditional events, the event staff are in the background. At an ECRM EPPS, we are a part of the experience. 

This is just a high-level overview of how ECRM works – we go a lot deeper than that. For example, we do custom programs for Tier 1 retailers, some of which that use ECRM for their full category planogram and new vendor sourcing programs, but we'll be posting more on these -- as well as other aspects of ECRM's solutions -- in the coming weeks.

To learn more about how ECRM can optimize your buying or selling initiatives, visit ECRM.Marketgate.com

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content

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