Supplier growth meetings are an essential component of major retailers’ growth strategies. These strategic events help a retailer refine growth strategies with many of its vendors through an on-site, collaborative process.

In today’s post, you’ll learn about the importance of supplier growth meetings as well as how Bluewater has managed the experiential, event tech, and AV needs of some of the world’s largest retailers, such as Walmart and Meijer, at their supplier growth meetings.

Supplier Growth Meetings: An Overview

For those unfamiliar with the term, a supplier growth meeting is an event hosted by a retailer (say, Home Depot) where all its suppliers are invited to get together in one room. It’s a chance to discuss growth opportunities. In other words, it’s a chance for suppliers and retailers to discover new avenues and opportunities to sell products and promote them effectively together.

Supplier growth meetings are a great opportunity for suppliers to get an audience with retailers, with the hopes of placing more product in the retail stores. But more importantly, supplier growth meetings are an amazingly valuable opportunity for retailers. They can interface with all their suppliers in one location rather than fragmenting this process throughout the year and throughout the world.

Retailers also have the chance to show off a bit. We’d be lying if we said retailers didn’t use these meetings to romance suppliers a bit. And that’s where we come in.

Two-Way Communication

Supplier growth meetings are a fantastic opportunity for two-way communication. As a retailer, you have a chance to deliver a unified message to all your key suppliers. What’s working well for you as a retailer? What isn’t? What changes to your approach are you planning to roll out in the coming year?

Your suppliers will benefit from hearing this information firsthand. As an example, Walmart pushed packaging strategies that included large, clear fonts and visibly prominent barcodes. If suppliers want to look good to Walmart, they need to follow these updated guidelines. The supplier growth meeting was the perfect place for Walmart to inform vendors about this.

Of course, communication is a two-way street. The supplier growth meeting is also the perfect opportunity for vendors to show off what’s new or to discuss any supply or experience issues that they are having with the retailer. Once again, getting all this information in a short span is far more efficient than tracking down each individual supplier throughout the year.

Creativity Is Key

Walmart’s event had some unique challenges. We needed to create an impressive display for general sessions, but that space had to be easily modified because the main space needed to be divided into several spaces for smaller sessions. We created a wall-to-wall display canvas that was itself modular. When the general session finished, we rearranged the air walls to create distinct spaces — using the same panels from the wall-to-wall display.

When Planning a Supplier Growth Meeting, Experience Matters

If you’re a retailer looking for help with the experiential, event tech and the AV aspects of delivering an impressive supplier growth meeting, you know that experience matters. Sure, if you’re a small retailer with just a few locations, you may not need the latest and greatest. Any relevant firm can probably get the job done.

But if your retail portfolio has a national or even multinational presence, you need a firm with proven experience running meetings at that scale. That’s exactly what Bluewater has. We ran point for Walmart’s 2019 supplier growth meeting, and you can see a sample of our work in this video. Talk Business & Politics also reviewed this event, declaring it not only a success, but a homerun. You won’t find mention of us in the review, but isn’t that the point? You don’t want your suppliers walking away praising your event tech vendor — you want them praising your team for a memorable experience that provided their brand with a pathway to success in your stores!

We’re not a one-shot wonder, either. Check out how we helped Walmart throw a successful sponsorship and booth at the 2018 Essence Festival.

Whatever the size and scope of your retail business (and your supplier growth meeting), they’re still important. The brands you carry want to feel like both you and they have a collaborative vision for the creation of successful sell through. We’ve seen a lot running supplier growth meetings for massive retailers like Walmart and Meijer, but the biggest takeaway time and time again is the amount of trust gained at these events. That trust can be greatly influenced by the experience they have at your next supplier growth forum.

Are you an upstart looking to launch your first supplier growth meetings? Or do you represent an established brand that’s tired of the status quo? Contact Bluewater today to discover what we can do for you.