Strategic meetings at NACDS conferences can lead to successful business partnerships./em>

The NACDS Retail Advisory Board—chain and supplier representatives who advise the NACDS Board of Directors on front-end issues—conducted a quadrant analysis to help identify agenda topics that can be used between retailers and suppliers as they develop plans for enhancing their partnerships. The goal of creating the tool, according to NACDS Retail Advisory Board member Rick Wellinger, president of client development & partner at the Emerson Group, who headed the analysis, was to create a tool that “can help our membership as they look to be more productive and more efficient in NACDS meetings throughout the year.”

Each quadrant represents a type of collaboration between partners of specific business sizes and/or level of strategic relationship—smaller chain with smaller manufacturer; larger chain with smaller manufacturer; smaller chain with larger manufacturer; smaller chain with larger manufacturer; and larger chain with larger manufacturer. Wellinger said, “The conversations that retailers or manufacturers might have in the upper right quadrant—the largest to the largest—would be different from the lower left quadrant because they’re trying to determine how they fit into the bigger picture in terms of the relevance of their business.” The quadrants are not merely representative of a company’s size or sales magnitude, rather they are indicative of a company’s strategic size—its ability to plan and execute in a big way.

Top-to-top meetings and access to senior management emerged as dominant themes across all forms of collaboration in the analysis. Wellinger said, “The smaller companies aren’t going to get a lot of that unless they participate in NACDS meetings.” He added, “For a small manufacturer, if they can’t get a meeting with a senior executive at a big retailer, at least they can be prepared to have their two-minute elevator speech on a topic that’s pertinent to them.” There are many opportunities to improve collaboration across the board at NACDS meetings. Wellinger noted that even informal meetings at the conferences can lead to more formal meetings down the road.

The NACDS Retail Advisory Board’s quadrant analysis will help shape conversations—and collaboration—within the industry and among partners for many years to come. Wellinger said, “You never know when the right opportunity is going to come along unless you’re present and ready to have that conversation.”