Supplier Advisory Board Members Share Insights, Ideas
Rite Aid’s category management team and supplier partners gathered in Las Vegas, Nev., on April 2 for the bi-annual Supplier Advisory Board (SAB) meeting. The meeting continued to focus on the theme of “inspiring innovation” kicked off last September.
Tony Montini, executive vice president of merchandising and Robert Thompson, executive vice president of pharmacy, welcomed board members and outlined the day’s objectives.
Rite Aid Chairman, President and CEO John Standley addressed the group, focusing on Rite Aid’s return to profitability. Standley attributed the company’s “outstanding year” to front end sales growth; the success of wellness+; improvement of pharmacy margins, in part from the introduction of new generic drugs and growth in prescription count through initiatives such as the flu immunization and ESI customer retention programs.
Chief Operating Officer Ken Martindale introduced Rite Aid’s new vision and updated mission statement that will provide a foundation and guide the company as it executes its strategy to become the customer’s first choice for their every day health and wellness needs, delivering on the promise to actively work with customers to keep them well. Senior Vice President of Marketing John Learish showed exciting features of the newly launched, redesigned RiteAid.com website and Rite Aid’s updated mobile application. He also discussed the company’s reinvigorated emphasis on customer segmentation.
Vice President of Consumables and Photo Bill Renz provided an energetic committee update on a DSD Process Improvement that stresses growing profitable sales and improving customer satisfaction. Thurman Williams from Coca-Cola commented that “when we maximize our efforts, real profitability exists.” A lively discussion followed, with Gina Tomassi from PepsiCo addressing the large role technology can play in the DSD business. The focus was “utilizing information to better manage the business.”
The discussion continued with Steve Lannon from MillerCoors, who talked about the need to improve in-store execution and demonstrated a new store sign-in process for DSD suppliers as well as enhancements to the RACS ticket resolution process. Steve Brady from PepsiCo provided an update on a space optimization test to enhance the Dairy category by showing the need to eliminate unproductive items in favor of new, more productive offerings.
Rite Aid’s Paul Harrington, category manager for beer, wine and liquor, presented on the importance of DSD-focused advertising and how page block selection is crucial to profitability.
Renz summarized the committee’s update by driving home the theme of making Rite Aid “Better, Stronger, Faster.”
The afternoon session kicked off with Vice President of Seasonal and General Merchandise Ted Williams, who provided an update on the Ad Order Forecasting project. He discussed recent findings regarding ad forecasting with a focus on front- and back-page analysis. Paul Hanko, vice president of replenishment, then provided an update on recent system enhancements to improve item-level forecast, post-event reporting and communication between key participants.
Gwen Andrews of Hershey Company and Laura Eggert of Novartis Consumer Health provided an update on the current results of collaborative event planning using Supplemental software.
Nate Newcomer, Rite Aid’s senior director of category management support, updated the group on the current evaluation and benefits potential of promotional planning and forecasting solutions and Williams closed the segment with plans for tracking and monitoring results.
Group Vice President of Health and Beauty Bill Bergin and his team capped off the committee presentations with an update on the Beauty Renewal project. A “Department of Dreams” video starring Bill Bergin and Johnson & Johnson’s Geoff Betrus drove home the idea that “if you build it, they will come.” The two main themes presented by the remainder of the group were: “Win with New” and “Enhancing the Beauty Shopping Experience.”
Craig Riner, Rite Aid’s vice president of marketing, discussed possible business growth opportunities through reinvigorating the 100% beauty guarantee. Sandy Abdallah from L’Oreal Paris led her subcommittee’s presentation on “Win with New,” emphasizing the need to maintain in-stock beauty items and keep customers informed of new products. Scott Sandler of Unilever continued the discussion with a focus group video that featured actual customer feedback on transforming Rite Aid’s beauty department.
Doug Rhoads and Nikki Wilson from Daymon Worldwide discussed enhancing the shopping experience by showing how Rite Aid’s Wellness Ambassadors, in conjunction with Rite Aid pharmacists, can augment the beauty experience by helping customers understand the health benefits of skin care.
Montini concluded the front-end segment of the meeting by introducing two new projects: enhancing the planogram review process and development of a standard Business Scorecard for suppler partners. Work on these two new committees will start in May.
Rite Aid’s next Supplier Advisory Board meeting will be held in Harrisburg, Pa., on Sept. 12.