Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing (ECRM) has developed a dynamic technology platform, utilizing the latest in virtual communications technologies, for facilitating face-to-face virtual meetings between buyers and suppliers. 

All future ECRM sessions will continue as planned. Some will be held virtually, and others – when possible – will be held in-person. The Easter and Valentine’s Day candy planning program, set for June 1-3, will be a virtual program. The Everyday and Summer Seasonal program, set for Aug. 30-Sept., is scheduled to be held in-person in Baltimore, Md.

“Adversity drives innovation,” said ECRM CEO Greg Farrar. “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.”

In response to the industry’s need to continue product sourcing and category planning quickly, efficiently and remotely, the platform has been specifically designed to deliver the same experience as an in-person session. Each virtual session will feature resources to help buyers and suppliers make the most of their experience, including RangeMe onboarding, best practices information, relevant market research and educational programs. 

In early March, ECRM launched its initial virtual offering called Efficient Supplier Introductions (“ESIs”), comprised of a series of virtual supplier presentations in a “one-to-many” format which supported the buyers’ need to continue product discovery. 

“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 v.p. 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.”

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.  

Throughout the year ECRM conducts a comprehensive series of category programs, featuring in-person and virtual sessions, to facilitate interaction and commerce between buyers and suppliers of consumer packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, general merchandise and foodservice products.