Seasonal promotion ideas and improved vendor shipping are on the minds of nonfood buyers who plan to attend the General Merchandise Distributors Council fall marketing conference in Monterey, Calif.
While at the show, which will run from Sept. 12 to 17, Dave Giacomini, senior general merchandise merchandiser at Oklahoma City-based Fleming Co.'s Western general merchandise division in Sacramento, Calif., intends to focus on innovative plans in the high-volume categories of film, batteries, lightbulbs and plastic housewares.
"We'll also want to get up to speed on where our division is heading with vendors and try and determine how we'll use our advertising funds with them next year."
Giacomini said he will spend time with suppliers discussing how to keep their shipping timely. "Deliveries are always a balancing kind of thing, and we want to make sure we can maintain our service level with our accounts."
Improving logistics and reducing product handling to boost efficiency in the warehouse will be major issues at the conference for Dick Swain, president of Valu Merchandisers, a subsidiary of Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Kan.
"We want to discuss what we can do working together [with vendors] to reduce product handling for us and the manufacturers," said Swain. "Although all the right people will not be at that show to take care of this, we're going to discuss setting up future meetings with suppliers on lead time, palletization and delivery schedules."
Swain said he is looking for new ways to take advantage of seasonal opportunities, which are becoming increasingly important to supermarkets. He noted that supermarket retailers are devoting more space to seasonal nonfood promotions in an attempt to get back seasonal business lost to mass merchants.
Aside from basic programs, Don Polsi, vice president and market manager for general merchandise at Imperial Distributors, Auburn, Mass., will be at the conference to search "for something new and different in seasonal promotion opportunities, which is needed to move business forward."
The concentration of manufacturers at the GMDC conference offers buyers many product areas to plumb for promotion programs, Polsi said. Polsi will also scour the conference for items to add to Imperial's j-hook program.
"This is one show where homing in on a product category doesn't apply. You're not limited to a particular category, like housewares at the January housewares show," he said.
Galen Itami, manager of HBC and general merchandise at United Grocers, Portland, Ore., will explore category trends and meet with specific suppliers.
"We'll talk about service levels, on-time delivery and other issues that affect our customers, like levels of funding and retail support," he said.
Without singling out any supplier by name, Itami said that housewares manufacturers, and particularly cookware, plasticware and glassware suppliers, need to improve their deliveries.
United Grocers will target manufacturers perceived to be lagging in service -- mostly larger companies that do significant amounts of business in other channels of distribution -- for discussions on how to improve responsiveness.
For URM Stores, Spokane, Wash., the general merchandise confab is a good way to get ideas for promoting high-volume categories like lightbulbs, batteries and film, according to Rick Denevan, director of nonfood.
"Although our spring show is put to bed, if we find something [at the conference], there's always a way to take advantage of it."