During the past few years, we at the Retail Value Chain Federation (RVCF) have been gradually increasing the number of one-on-one meetings between retailers and suppliers at our conferences. In fact, approximately 700 one-on-ones were held at the RVCF Fall Conference last week as we maximized the number of meetings based on the time available and the number of participants. More than a meeting, each of these one-on-ones represents an opportunity – an opportunity for trading partners to build stronger relationships and solve problems.
This is why RVCF exists.
A one-on-one meeting is a prescheduled meeting – a sit-down, so to speak – between a retailer and a supplier at an RVCF conference. All one-on-one meetings are held in a designated area that is closely monitored by RVCF staff to ensure that only those attendees who have scheduled one-on-one meetings are admitted. Each retailer is assigned one or more tables, depending on how many representatives are available, and suppliers move between retailer tables according to a pre-determined schedule.
What Retailers Need to Know about One-on-One Meetings
Retailers that would like to schedule one-on-ones with suppliers just need to inform RVCF of their interest and availability. We'll provide you with a list of suppliers that have requested to meet with you, their supplier number, and what topics each supplier wants to discuss during a one-on-one. RVCF will schedule one-on-one meetings with only those suppliers that have been approved by the retailer.
We understand that many retailers attend RVCF conferences for the educational sessions, which is why we work so hard throughout the year to ensure that each session delivers helpful, valuable information. At the same time, retailers can benefit tremendously by participating in one-on-one meetings. In fact, the number one reason why suppliers attend RVCF conferences is to meet with their retailer partners.
Many retailers send one person and have a single table in the designated one-on-one area. But if this person wants to attend educational sessions, it limits their availability for one-on-ones and more suppliers are turned away. As you can imagine, this can be frustrating for supplier members whose primary reason for attending the conference is to meet with multiple retailers.
In many cases, it would be helpful if retailers could send more people and have two or even three tables for one-to-one meetings. We understand that you'll never be able to meet with everyone. But the more people you meet with, the more problems you solve.
We're also asking our retail members if it would be more feasible to extend the conference to accommodate more one-on-one meetings. An RVCF conference typically runs from mid-afternoon on Sunday to late morning on Wednesday. Would you be willing to meet with more suppliers if we extended the conference through Wednesday afternoon? We appreciate and encourage your feedback and participation.
What Suppliers Need to Know about One-on-One Meetings
Suppliers that would like to schedule one-on-ones with retailers will receive a One-on-One Request Survey after paying their RVCF conference registration fee. Surveys are sent approximately six weeks prior to the conference. In this survey, suppliers can indicate which retailers they would like to meet and the reason for requesting each meeting. A valid supplier number must also be provided.
Due to the laws of supply and demand, suppliers are not guaranteed to receive every meeting that they request. However, there are a few things suppliers can do to improve their chances of having meeting requests approved. First, register for the conference early to ensure that you receive the One-on-One Request Survey at the same time as other suppliers. Second, be specific about what you want to discuss during each one-on-one. For example, don't request a one-on-one meeting to discuss a topic that a retailer will cover during a Supplier Breakout session.
Keep in mind that the goal of each one-on-one is to address and solve problems. Casual meet-and-greets and catching up with people who you've been working with for years should happen during a reception or at the golf course, not a one-on-one. As mentioned previously, every one-one-one meeting is an opportunity to build a stronger trading partner relationship. Look for solutions to problems before you look for settlements, and make sure you bring operations people to the table, not just the credit and finance people, as operations people are the ones retailers want to see since they can put solutions into action.
Start Preparing Now
Another successful RVCF Annual Fall Conference is still fresh in our minds, but we're already looking forward to the Spring Conference from April 17-20, 2016 at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa in Fort Myers, FL. Start thinking about supply chain issues that need to be addressed. Start thinking about who you would like to meet to discuss these issues. Start talking to senior management about the business value of being able to meet with multiple trading partners during the same event over the course of three days.
Again, the kind of collaboration that occurs during a one-on-one meeting is the reason why RVCF exists. We want as many retailers and suppliers as possible to take advantage of these opportunities so that everyone may benefit. Your input is welcome and valued, so please contact us if you have any suggestions about how we can improve the one-on-one meeting process.
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