ECRM’s first virtual Everyday and Summer Seasonal Candy Planning session kicks off today.

Originally set to be held in Baltimore, Md., ECRM has transitioned to presenting the program through its ECRM Connect Platform. The session will bring together nearly 70 manufacturers and buyers representing more than 60 retail outlets for short, face-to-face video meetings designed to maximize efficiency.

Launched in May, ECRM Connect is customized with tools specific to particpants' 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. 

Sarah Davidson, senior vice president of food and beverage for ECRM, said the group is excited to present the program in a new, virtual format.

“Although things look very different then when we originally planned this session, we couldn’t be happier with how things have come together for us to seamlessly execute the program in a virtual setting,” she said. “Over the next week we will be hosting 3,000-plus strategically curated virtual appointments through our ECRM Connect platform, helping buyers and sellers continue to stay connected and fuel their business during these uncertain and challenging times.”

ECRM and Candy Industry will also partner to present the annual Buyers Choice Awards, giving participating candy buyers the chance to vote for their favorite new chocolate, non-chocolate and novelty products.

Earlier this month, ECRM reported it had conducted more than 25,000 meetings across 24 category-specific virtual sessions targeted for both the U.S. and European markets. Since the launch, ECRM has added new features to the virtual platform, including:

  • 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.

Check back for post-session coverage, including the winners of the Buyers Choice Awards and a list of new products we loved.