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Critical Mass: NACDS Kicks Off Inaugural Total Store Expo

With logistics rolled into the show for the first time, decision-makers hope to hammer out strategies to reduce inventory without incurring out-of-stocks.

NEW YORK ­— Retailers headed to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Total Store Expo at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas this weekend are focused on finding new innovations, avenues to boost sales and alternatives to promotions such as the buy-one-get-one deal.

With logistics rolled into the show for the first time, decision-makers hope to hammer out strategies to reduce on-hand inventory without incurring out-of-stocks. This is the inaugural outing for Total Store Expo, a new format two years in the making that merges the Marketplace, Pharmacy and Technology and Supply Chains and Logistics conferences into one megashow. The goal is to eliminate the number of meetings industry members need to attend by bringing all pieces of the business under one roof. More than 5,400 attendees (650 exhibiting companies and 1,275 retail representatives) are slated to attend the four-day meeting, which begins Saturday.

The association pulled out all of the stops to ensure a hit show, from tapping former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton as a keynote speaker to offering 36 educational and programming sessions including Meet the Market, Meet the Retailer and Insight sessions.

“The powerful new NACDS Total Store Expo is a game-changer in how the industry conducts business. Its innovative nature builds on NACDS’ reputation for providing cutting-edge events that focus-in on retailers’ and suppliers’ needs,” said NACDS president and chief executive officer Steven C. Anderson.

The idea of the NACDS Total Store Expo was born out of an effort to identify opportunities to revolutionize NACDS events. The exhibit space sold out briskly and an informal survey of top chains and suppliers found them with bags packed and ready to get down to business. Instead of just buying and merchandising teams, retailers said they have ceo’s and logistics personnel ready for productive meetings.

“We’re excited to attend. It is our first floor event with Physicians Formula in the fold and we are all energized to present the entire Markwins portfolio of brands,” said Markwins’ International’s Brian Talbot, vice president of marketing.

Beauty is a major focus at the show with more than 40 suppliers on hand, ranging from giants such as Coty Inc. and L’Oréal, to up-and-comers including MBA Beauty, Twist & Pout Lip Balm and Cosnova. For the smaller beauty firms looking to make it big in cosmetics, NACDS offers the venue to meet with major retailers in one place — a challenge for companies with limited access to big chains. There are sessions with representatives from chains including CVS Pharmacy, Meijer, Family Dollar, Walgreens, Wakefern and Costco discussing how to do business with them.

“We signed on to the NACDS Total Store Expo to have an opportunity to launch a host of our new products at this large and well-attended drug and mass retailer expo. We [think] retailers will be searching for truly natural beauty care products,” said Victor Lulla, owner of Out of Africa Shea Butter Body Care, which is produced in the West African country of Benin

For the big players, Total Store Expo affords the chance to meet with all levels of management in one locale. As was the case with Marketplace, Total Store Expo is expected to be a hotbed of innovation.

“Red Carpet Manicure is a proud supporter of NACDS and we are [pleased] to participate in their first-ever TSE show,” said Red Carpet’s managing partner, Bruce Kowalsky. He added the company has expanded its stockkeeping units from 36 colors to more than 100 shades in addition to nail art kits and treatments. “We’ll also be showcasing new advancements in our LED light technology for the at-home consumer, along with revolutionary formula technologies.”

Key topics will be how to keep cosmetics sales growing, especially in nail, where some chains are finding it hard to repeat last year’s dynamic growth while also fending off a plethora of competitors angling for nail sales. Also there will be chatter about whether the BB and CC creams are siphoning from traditional foundations and, if so, how retailers can counteract the drain.

The NACDS Total Store Expo will enable business partners to work together across departments and functions with an eye toward the entire store, according to Anderson. To help attendees navigate the mammoth meeting, NACDS designed several high-tech tools and resources such as a mobile app with an interactive map, schedule of events, list of exhibitors and the ability to set up profiles with others at the show. The one reservation the beauty industry has is the timing of the show — a little late for beauty resets. However, all agreed they are open minded and plan to find ways to make the event productive.