Walgreens Stays Local in Search of Vendors

Virtual Localization Summit on May 13 will allow local and diverse suppliers to pitch products
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
a group of people standing in front of a store
Walgreens' Localization Summit will focus on products across grocery and household, apparel, beach, tourism, and general merchandise, among other categories.

In an effort to remain relevant to its consumer base, Walgreens will conduct its first virtual Localization Summit on May 13 for diverse local and regional vendors to pitch their offerings to the retailer’s merchants.

“As America’s community pharmacy, Walgreens is continuously looking for ways to highlight and connect with the communities we serve in a deeper and bolder way,” said Kirk Hanselman, interim chief merchandising officer at Walgreens. “This event allows us to create a more meaningful and localized shopping experience by sourcing products from our customers’ neighborhoods that they know and love. We look forward to meeting the diverse group of business leaders, and a successful event.”

The event will provide local vendors from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico the opportunity to connect with the Walgreens merchandising team, share their product, and receive feedback with the ultimate goal of being stocked on Walgreens shelves in their local areas. It will focus on products across grocery and household, apparel, beach, tourism, and general merchandise, among other categories.

Retailers holding virtual events to help add more local flair to their shelves has been an ongoing trend during the pandemic. Just last week, St. Louis-based Schnuck Markets Inc. revealed a new initiative to find local suppliers for its Midwest stores. Other regional retailers stepping up their commitment to stock more locally sourced products include Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Meijer, which will host its first virtual Localization Summit on April 1, and West Des Moines, Iowa-based Hy-Vee, which already held one of its four scheduled Best of Local Brands summits for 2021.

Walgreen’s localization event will be hosted by Solon, Ohio-based ECRM. All product submissions will be made through its RangeMe online product discovery and sourcing platform. ECRM will qualify suppliers, create curated meeting schedules and facilitate face-to-face virtual meetings with Walgreens buyers so that suppliers can introduce innovative products into the marketplace. All meetings will be conducted through ECRM’s virtual meeting platform, ECRM Connect.

Vendors can find additional information about the event via https://www.rangeme.com/walgreenslocalreview.

The Localization Summit comes on the heels of the retailer’s virtual Supplier Summit in October, during which Walgreens updated nearly 250 suppliers on growth strategies, including the drug store chain's commitment to its local and community roots.

Deerfield, Illinois-based Walgreens is included in the Retail Pharmacy USA division of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. The drug store chain operates more than 9,000 retail locations across America, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, serving about 8 million customers daily. Walgreens is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food retailers in North America. Meijer, Hy-Vee and Schnucks are Nos. 19, 33 and 67, respectively, on PG's list.

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