Convenience Distribution Show Hits on Hot Topics

After spending the better part of a week at any trade show, my typical demeanor on that final day of travel is typically one of exhaustion and a mounting desire to get back home. As I write this post on the plane home following the AWMA (American Wholesale Marketers Association) Show in Las Vegas, the urge to get home is present, but rather than exhaustion I’m feeling intense energy about this year’s event – outstanding motivational speakers presented the hot topics of today and the show floor was buzzing with positive feedback and orders being taken. In fact, it was a challenge to interview some of the exhibitors for the daily show newsletter because they were constantly tied-up with buyers. But that’s just fine. That’s what a trade show is all about.

I’ve been to a lot of these meetings, and the educational sessions were the most compelling I’ve ever heard in this industry. It was clear the folks in attendance really liked – and needed – this type of discussion. Let’s face it…it’s hard for convenience distributors, in particular, not to get bogged down with day-to-day operations and simply not have time to step back and see the bigger picture. Out of stocks, short orders, single drops, employee issues…whatever the distractions, they can easily consume one’s day. Who has time to think about broader issues that affect the supply chain? How can trading partners work together to become more efficient, more profitable, and ultimately tap into the true desires of the end consumer? These are issues that need to be addressed, but often take a backseat to daily operations.

I left the AWMA Show with so many story ideas for Convenience Distribution, AWMA’s magazine, that I can’t wait to beef-up the editorial calendar. Here are a few of the topics that may pop-up in future issues of CD:

· Know the Consumer – No matter what part of the supply chain you occupy, you need to know the ultimate consumer. What are their buying preferences? What are they looking for in a shopping experience? How can the supply chain work together to provide the ultimate experience for the consumer? You may not have direct contact with the end consumer, but what you do does have an impact at the point of purchase.

· Social Media – Don’t think you need to be here? Think again. Supermarket guru and consumer shopping expert Phil Lempert told an audience of manufacturers and distributors (mostly distributors) that this is a growing market for branding your company or product image. It’s not just for the youngsters.

· Foodservice for C-Stores – How can the convenience channel provide the ultimate experience for the many different types of consumers – from “bubba” to the desirable female shopper – c-stores are trying to attract? What is the best strategy for you and your channel partners?

· Brand Marketing – Distributors don’t just sell snacks and tobacco. They are solution providers and they need to market themselves as such. It’s not just about the product – it’s about how your customers feel about you as a partner.

· InfoMetrics – This AWMA-guided program is underway and already has 50 distributor participants and 80,000 c-stores involved. It’s all about the data – collecting it from distributors and sharing it with manufacturers and retailers.

To learn more about AWMA and Convenience Distribution magazine, check out www.awmanet.org. Please bear with us as we fine-tune the magazine’s online presence. It’s new to us and we are just getting started.

Okay, time for a bag of Nabisco 100-Cal Chips Ahoy! Thin Crisps (wow, this bag sure feels light) and a Diet Coke. Yes, that is the breakfast offering today on Southwest. Ah, the pleasures of flying.

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