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Supplier Advisory Board Meets in Las Vegas, Nev.

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Rite Aid’s category management team and supplier partners gathered in Las Vegas, Nev., on March 22, 2016, for the bi-annual Supplier Advisory Board (SAB) meeting.

Tony Montini, Rite Aid executive vice president of merchandising and distribution, and Jocelyn Konrad, executive vice president of pharmacy, welcomed supplier partners and outlined the day’s objectives before introducing Rite Aid Chairman and CEO John Standley and Ken Martindale, CEO of Rite Aid Stores and president of Rite Aid Corporation, to answer business-related questions from supplier partners.

Rite Aid Senior Vice President of Marketing John Learish discussed the meeting’s first key topic, wellness+ with Plenti, by explaining why Rite Aid joined the Plenti coalition and describing the benefits of partnering with other well-known retailers.

Learish reported strong growth in wellness+ with Plenti memberships since the program’s launch in May 2015, with high conversion rates of existing wellness+ members. Strong marketing campaigns across all Plenti partners have driven increasing levels of customer awareness and engagement, mitigating some of the initial challenges of the program. He also discussed planned enhancements such as the recently-launched one-step enrollment process, Plenti point redemption campaigns and the ability to pay out-of-pocket prescription costs with Plenti points.

Bill Bergin, Rite Aid group vice president of health and beauty, and his team presented findings from test promotions to provide more engaging offerings for Hispanic customers:

  • Steven Reich from AnheuserBusch presented a Consumables promotion that utilized the new F.A.S.T. (store segmentation) tool to identify the most effective stores to target with off-shelf displays, signage and programming.
  • Vince Hickey from L’Oreal presented a hair and skin care test that integrated Hispanic heritage brands into select planograms, accompanied by bilingual signage and television advertising. They also used the F.A.S.T. tool for store selection and performance.
  • The Oral Care team, led by Michael Swilley from Colgate-Palmolive, created a new planogram layout organized by benefit and brand/sub-brand to overcome in-store shopping barriers for the Hispanic shopper. The layout included high-indexing Hispanic items and integrated bilingual signage.

Early tracking of all three tests show positive results, and the teams plan to continue tracking performance.

Next, Bill Renz, Rite Aid group vice president of consumables and photo, provided a final committee report on updating the on-boarding process for new account representatives.

The team created tools to ensure new supplier partners are prepared and knowledgeable about Rite Aid forms and systems when meeting with category managers. Thurman Williams from Coca-Cola explained the enhancements, designed to create a comprehensive and effective on-boarding experience.

In October, the group’s main focus was on arranging and compiling materials for a new supplier on-boarding day. After the first successful session, the team directed its efforts to improving the Rite Aid Supplier Portal.

Jason Fisher, Rite Aid director of category management support, presented the redesigned Supplier Portal—drawing attention to the improved elements and navigation that provide more consistency and efficient use. The meeting’s final presentation was given by the committee on Top Store Merchandising, led by Vice President of General Merchandise and Seasonal Ted Williams.

Ted and Doug Rhoads of Daymon Worldwide recapped the team’s objectives and how top stores were identified. Their challenge was to create a better customer experience through customized merchandising solutions that drive customer engagement. Their primary areas of focus were drawing attention to consumables and general merchandise, leveraging wellness+ with Plenti and attracting new shoppers.

Gwen Andrews from The Hershey Company talked about driving attention to the seasonal aisles with innovative end caps similar to those used in Rite Aid’s health and beauty aisles. The committee will test this tactic during the upcoming Harvest season.

Mary Kris Malloy from Edgewell discussed enhancing Plenti offers by using additional in-store signage. Early tracking has shown positive results and the team plans to continue to implement and test this approach.

Finally, Angela Zazzu from GlaxoSmithKline explained how non-Rite Aid shoppers can be targeted through CRM campaigns. Throughout the next several months, the committee will continue to work with Tom Trounce, Rite Aid vice president of customer loyalty, to test CRM offers for new and existing shoppers.

Montini concluded the meeting by congratulating the supplier partners who recently renewed their membership and thanking them for their contributions.

He announced that, since the on-boarding committee has completed its responsibilities, Bill Renz and his team will join Bill Bergin’s group focused on “Understanding the Millennial Customer,” and Ted Williams will continue leading the committee conducting research on drivers of top-store performance. Final updates for both projects will be presented at the next Supplier Advisory Board meeting in September in Hershey, Pa.