ECRM is adding new features to its proprietary virtual platform after surpassing 25,000 curated meetings between retail buyers and sellers last month.

More than 1,100 buyers and 1,000 suppliers have participated in 24 category-specific virtual sessions targeted for both the U.S. and European markets. ECRM Connect, launched in May, enables buyers and sellers to participate in face-to-face video meetings and is customized with tools specific to their meeting needs, including the ability to take meeting notes, review products and supplier capabilities, rank meetings with a one- to five-star rating, and communicate follow-up timelines and any next steps. 

"I have done a couple other virtual meetings and trade shows, and the ECRM setup by far is best-in-class," said Howie Cohen, general merchandise category manager for Bartell Drugs. "Notes was the tool I used most — I take a fair amount of notes during meetings and having the ability to review notes from previous sessions was very helpful. I also really liked having all the supplier information, including product images and presentation slides, right there in the platform."

A recent survey of the ECRM customer base revealed the thing they miss most from in-person programs or trade events is the ability to network with their peers, which was a staple of the traditional in-person ECRM Programs. 

“We continue to evolve our service offering to satisfy the needs of our clients,” said Kurt Repola, senior vice president for ECRM. “We have addressed these in our newest release of the ECRM Connect Platform which includes several new features designed to increase engagement and add value for our participants.” 

Some of these new features include: 

  • ECRM Lounge: Similar to the hospitality area or a cocktail reception at ECRM in-person sessions, the ECRM Lounge is an option for participants to network or connect for casual conversations between their meetings.
  • Company Breakroom: These are company-specific virtual meeting rooms where teammates can collaborate privately on the platform to prepare for future meetings or discuss next steps.
  • Thought Leadership: Participants now have the opportunity to further educate themselves about category trends and industry insights during their meeting breaks with relevant video and blog posts embedded into the ECRM Connect platform.
  • Roundtable Discussions: ECRM’s Thought Interaction Pod roundtable discussions consist of several concurrent moderated virtual roundtables on category-related topics. These are built into participants' schedules so that everyone has the opportunity to join.

“Building a best-in-class virtual meeting platform was just the start, as it’s the core component of ECRM’s service offering,” Repola said. “These platform updates address many of the suggestions we have heard and have advanced our ECRM Connect platform dramatically.”

ECRM will host approximately 50 virtual sessions across categories throughout the remainder of the year.