In the wake of its successful virtual General Merchandise (GM) Conference and Selfcare Summit events last October, retail industry trade association Global Market Development Center (GMDC)|Retail Tomorrow has revealed a series of virtual events for 2021. The events will aim to improve business connectivity for members and trading partners as the industry continues to deal with the disruption caused by the coronavirus.
Focused on general merchandise, self-care, housewares and holiday seasonal categories and scheduled over several weeks, the events offer attendees the flexibility to schedule strategic and discovery meetings throughout the year to engage more often with current and potential trading partners:
- April 6-23: Spring GM and Selfcare Strategic Executive Connection (SEC) Meetings, in partnership with the International Housewares Association (IHA) April 6-9, Session 1 – self-care categories; April 13-16, Session 2 – GM categories; April 20-23, Session 3 – Connect GROCERY
- June 1-11: Summer GM and Selfcare Discovery Sessions (Buyer’s Choice)
- Sept. 14-23: Fall GM and SEC Meetings
- Oct. 13-14: Holiday Seasonal Strategic and Discovery Sessions
“Last October, we shifted our legacy GM Conference and Selfcare Summit events from in-person to a virtual setting in an effort to navigate the ongoing pandemic, while continuing to deliver opportunities for our members to conduct business despite the disruption caused by COVID-19,” said Patrick Spear, president and CEO of Colorado Springs, Colorado-based GMDC|Retail Tomorrow. “Following our successful pivot, we gathered feedback from and listened to our members, evaluating what worked well during our virtual events and identifying where we could improve. We quickly discovered that more frequent, category-specific events better position our members to conduct business and grow in the ever-evolving COVID-19 landscape, and our unique capabilities to facilitate strategic and meaningful connections position us to fulfill this industry need.”
“IHA’s mission is to bring buyers and sellers together regardless of format, and we are excited to work with GMDC|Retail Tomorrow to connect our supplier members with their buyer members during this virtual event,” said Derek Miller, president of Rosemont, Illinois-based IHA. “Nonfoods is an important and profitable category for grocery retailers, and until the industry can gather again in-person at The Inspired Home Show, this type of opportunity delivers the kind of new product and supplier discovery that retailers are craving right now.”
In April, attendees can take part in 45-minute meetings via the GMDC*Connect video conferencing platform, powered by Zoom, scheduled at the top of every hour from 10 a.m.-5:45 p.m. ET. The meetings will be mutually matched, with GMDC|Retail Tomorrow creating all meeting schedules to accommodate participants’ schedules and availability. Buyers can signal their interest in meetings with specific sellers through a ranking system indicating high interest/some interest/low interest/no interest, while sellers can signal their interest in any meetings with buyers with a yes/no qualification. Participating companies can bring an unlimited number of colleagues to each meeting.
There’s no registration fee for the event; participating suppliers will receive an invoice for each meeting scheduled and accepted during the event, but will also have the opportunity to register for all virtual events and meetings slated to take place during the 2021 series.
“The nature of the retail experience and how we connect and conduct business is completely changed,” continued Spear. “While our events will look and feel different in 2021, they will continue to deliver the same benefits expected by our members, only more frequently.”