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Supplier Advisory Board Meeting Update

Rite Aid’s category management team and supplier partners gathered in Harrisburg, Pa. on Sept. 13 for the bi-annual Supplier Advisory Board (SAB) meeting. The meeting’s focus on inspiring innovation echoed the theme of the annual Rite Aid Supplier Conference held on Sept 11 and 12.

09-SAB-logoExecutive Vice President of Merchandising Tony Montini welcomed supplier partners before introducing President and CEO John Standley, who held a brief question and answer session. Supplier partners asked Standley about the success of the Wellness format stores, Rite Aid’s preparedness for Walgreen’s re-entering the Express Script network and what he saw as opportunities for further innovation at Rite Aid.

Rite Aid’s Vice President of Seasonal, Garden and General Merchandise Ted Williams kicked off the update on the Ad Order Forecasting project by discussing recent findings on ad forecast accuracy and the differences in how Rite Aid and its supplier partners might interpret the data.

Paul Hanko, Rite Aid’s vice president of replenishment, then gave an update on recent system enhancements to improve forecast accuracy, including the incorporation of lost sales. Jason Woods of Mars Corporation presented best practices in ad forecasting as identified by the SAB sub-committee and Denise Jordan along with SC Johnson presented potential process improvements that supplier partners can implement — including using the Supplemental Software tool, increasing focus on front and back pages and implementing collaborative team meetings.

Group Vice President of Health and Beauty Bill Bergin introduced the Beauty Renewal project team. He presented the team’s mission statement and three focus areas: winning with new items, developing a best-in-class multicultural focus and improving the overall shopper experience related to the Beauty categories. Sandra Abdallah from L’Oreal updated the group on the importance of new item introductions within beauty categories. This included the new item timeline and an emphasis on leveraging Rite Aid’s money-back guarantee with new items.

Tim Phillips from Unilever discussed the need to drive market basket and category conversion with current beauty shoppers, enhancing the in-store experience and focusing on gold and silverwellness+ members.

Jerry Dowell of Dowell Group discussed the importance of having a multicultural focus with regard to beauty, taking into account the varying needs and desires of different ethnic groups when shopping for beauty products.

Vice President of Consumables and Photo Bill Renz kicked off the last subcommittee update on DSD Process Improvement. Steve Lannon from MillerCoors discussed the need to improve ad performance for DSD by improving visibility and post-event analysis. Anne Birdsong from PepsiCo discussed optimizing the selling space by developing a central repository of DSD planograms and optimizing the product assortment across DSD categories.

Thurman Williams from Coca Cola discussed the need for an improved pricing strategy for both advertised items and everyday retail based on the needs of the consumer and the role of the product. Mike Sobutka from PepsiCo spoke to unlocking technology enhancements that would help streamline the store check-in process and significantly reduce check-in times. Mike Davis of American Greetings wrapped up the project with a look at how we can improve our execution by establishing and communicating DSD vendor guidelines.

Montini concluded the meeting by thanking everyone for their active participation and innovative input throughout the day.

Our next Supplier Advisory Board meeting will be held at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 2, 2013.