This year's Marketplace offered a full day of distributor-focused education for attendees hitting all aspects of a wholesaler’s operation, from foodservice, to management and strategic planning, to candy and snack merchandising.
"I thought all of the seminars were very good, and what's nice about them is that you have a lot to choose from," explained Kaye Powell, S. Abraham & Sons, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI. "We brought a lot of people from our company, so we were able to divide and conquer and take a lot of valuable information back home."
Merchandising Candy & Snacks for Max Profit
Panelists for the CDA Joint Industry Warehouse-Delivered Snack Committee’s (WDSC) session were Zeno Corrigan, Core-Mark International, New England Division, Gardiner, ME; Kenneth Batterton, GSC Enterprises, Sulphur Springs, TX; and Kim Duet, Lyons Specialty Co., Port Allen, LA. Panelists presented ways for distributors to implement effective merchandising programs, including the committee's multi-vendor endcap (MVE) program to drive sales of warehouse-delivered snacks and confections and increase profit for both distributors and their customers.
Corrigan talked about how to incorporate MVEs. High impulse is important, consumers want everything at the front register. It’s all about brands and partnering with vendors.
“We have to take categories and have all the items close to the front checkout,” he said. “We need to take the best brands across the whole segment and have everything within arm’s length.”
The key takeaway was that distributors don't have to go it alone. Many resources are available on CDA's website and WDSC members are ready and willing to help.
A recording of this session will soon be available on CDA's website.
Trends & Insights in the Nicotine Delivery Category
Don Burke, senior vice president of Management Science Associates, discussed recent trends in the nicotine delivery category, highlighting current influences impacting sales.
His presentation included a review of general tobacco trends in the wholesale channel and a discussion of successful strategies employed by distributors whose goal is to grow their tobacco business. The performance of cigarette, cigar, OTP and vapor categories was covered in the convenience trade compared to the dollar and drug store channels.
“The tobacco industry is important to the convenience channel and the convenience channel is important to the tobacco industry,” said Burke. “Many segments of this category are continuing to grow.”
C-Store Foodservice: Trends and Opportunities
Current and developing foodservice trends and issues in the c-store channel were presented by Wade Hanson, principal of Technomic, a Chicago-based leading research and consulting firm to the foodservice industry.
He focused on a number of topics, including operator dynamics, performance and needs to help the session’s attendees develop an understanding of consumers’ rapidly-changing expectations of foodservice, including c-stores. Perspectives also were shared that were relevant for both experienced retailers and those just entering the category.
In the last two to three years, Hanson said we’ve seen more changes in the foodservice industry than in the 10 years prior. Much change is being driven by consumers, and we are well past the days when they put c-store foodservice in a box.
“They need support from their distributor partners,” said Hanson. “It’s more about messaging and marketing these offerings.”
Evidence-Based Approaches to Identifying & Correcting Causes of Driver Turnover
Stay Metrics’ Mary Malone, MS, JD, spoke about identifying the cause and solving truck driver shortages. With 75 percent of the workforce eventually being made up of Millennials, how can the industry create jobs these workers are looking for?
“Workforce development centers and high school athletic coaches and counselors are good resources when looking for truck drivers,” said Malone.
The top predictors of turnover are the company’s communication, recruiter professionalism and fair pay/compensation. Within 45 days, drivers make up their minds about a company after being hired. In terms of driver retention, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open, have a plan and follow through.
“Surveys are a good method to gauge employees’ satisfaction, and it’s important to get feedback and be prepared to do something with the results,” she said.
CDA Women’s Leadership Program: Gender Dynamics for Business Success
Presented by the Altria Women in Sales Network, in this session, Stephen Sanger and Charlotte Savage from Altria Group Distribution Co. talked about preparing leaders to leverage “Gender Dynamics for Business Success”. At the core, this work is aimed at enabling organizations to genuinely understand and leverage the inherent gender differences that exist in the workplace today.
The session explored the science and data behind gender dynamics and the implications to team effectiveness, problem solving and operating productivity.
Sanger discussed how gender bias is still present, with 49 percent of women seeing it versus 28 percent of men. He said it’s time to start the discussion, appreciate the differences and build an inclusive culture.
He then detailed the differences between men and women’s brains.
“Women take in and process more points of data and make more conclusions than men,” said Sanger. “Women also use more words in a day as well as vocal sounds, hand gestures and body signals.”
While women communicate to create relationships, interaction and exchange feelings, men do it to obtain information, establish status and show independence.
Savage discussed Leadership behaviors between men and women, citing a study by Catalyst Research that revealed survey respondents believe men are better at networking and influencing upward, while women are better at problem solving.
“Diversity and inclusion is a journey that’s far from over,” she said.
University of Innovative Distribution Program Sessions
Through CDA’s sponsorship of the University of Innovative Distribution (UID) supported by Purdue University, CDA hosted a UID-in-a-Day program featuring executive leadership and sales sessions delivered by esteemed UID faculty members. Attendees will receive a Certificate of Completion and credit that may be applied toward a Professional Certificate of Innovative Distribution.
The full UID program will take place March 11-14 in Indianapolis. For more information, visit the UID page on CDA's website.
The UID-in-a-Day programs at Marketplace included:
How to Differentiate Your Distribution Company: A Winning Strategy
Dr. William McCleave, trainer and president of W.R. McCleave & Associates, discussed how distributors and their suppliers wrestle with a constantly changing world of big challenges and promising opportunities.
“Distributors need to think about what they intend to do, since prioritizing initiatives is critical,” said McCleave. “What you know is important, but what you do with it is more important.”
He noted that, as customers seek better supply alternatives and competitors increase their efforts, differentiation becomes essential for survival.
“Companies need to look at who they’re selling to, their customer’s relationship with the company and their market status,” said McCleave. “Knowing the customer’s hot buttons as well as how to make or save them money is key.”
According to McCleave, great distribution firms in the future will focus on customer and market arenas where they can provide world class performance and unique value.
Managing in Turbulent Times
Today’s distribution industry can be a race to the bottom on price with new non-traditional competitors like broad line box movers and Amazon. In this session, Mike Marks, co-founder, Indian River Consulting Group, Indialantic, FL, talked about how managers must make decisions with limited resources in highly uncertain and changing environments.
“Competitive advantage is not real, unless you gain a significant cost advantage over your competitors or a significant price premium from you customers, either resulting in higher profits,” said Marks.
While cost advantages come from operating scale, role specialization and performance management processes, price advantages come from scale with suppliers, mass customization and leveraging competitive intensity.
“You need time to work on your business as well as in your business,” said Marks.
The Power of Focus: Strategic Planning for Distributors
This session, which was also presented by Marks, showed attendees how to develop and execute a successful strategy using tools specifically designed for distributors.
Key elements of strategy, including market assessment and positioning, strategic prioritization, addressing critical constraints, management rhythms, and metrics were explored as well as the right and wrong ways to approach strategic planning. Marks also provided examples of world-class distributor strategies.
“It’s important to do what you do best and buy the rest,” he said. “You must sell to users the way they want to buy, as this is changing rapidly.”
Action steps include spending time and money developing a strong sense of the external environment and especially the customer’s own initiatives.
“Start with your trade association, as they are all trying to create a pathway to the future,” said Marks.