WSL Future of Health Event

Walgreens, ECRM host Supplier Diversity Summit

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ITASCA, Ill. — Walgreens teamed up with ECRM this week to host a one-day Supplier Diversity Summit here.

Joe Hartsig

The Walgreens-ECRM Supplier Diversity Summit, held Wednesday, provided an opportunity for the retailer’s category managers to meet with suppliers with diversity in ownership in the health and wellness, beauty and personal care, competitive convenience, and wellness over-the-counter and advanced care categories.

“The consumer demographic in today’s competitive retail space is rapidly changing. Consumers are getting older, Millennials want to shop differently, and we as a country are becoming more ethnically diverse. The competitive landscape is also changing, and we need to adapt with this shifting marketplace in order to remain relevant,” said Joe Hartsig, senior vice president and chief merchandising officer at Walgreens.

The summit is part of Walgreens’ ongoing commitment to promote and partner with diverse and small business suppliers, and to help such enterprises grow.

“The major reason for today’s summit is that we stay connected to the small and diversified supplier and make sure that we find products and solutions that our customers want,” said Hartsig. “One example is our Hispanic Shopper Initiative, where we have about 900 locations where we try to tailor some of our offering specifically for the Hispanic audience.”

At the event, Walgreens’ nine category managers had private, prescheduled meetings with a number of suppliers, who also attended a keynote presentation during lunch.

Rona Fourte

“Since the formalization of our program in 2007, we have worked with many diverse-owned businesses in the community,” said Rona Fourte, director of supplier diversity at Walgreens.

She explained that what Walgreens seeks to do is make sure it provides a platform of access to the diverse suppliers within its diverse communities.

“We cover every geographic territory within the U.S., and there are a lot of small-business owners and entrepreneurs that want to have access to put the products and services into our operations,” Fourte said. “The Diversity Summit builds on this commitment, and we look forward to helping these suppliers with new innovative offerings to enhance the selection of items that our customers value as we champion everyone’s right to be happy and healthy.”

She added that the Supplier Diversity classifications include African-American, American Indian, Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Disabled, Hispanic/Latino, LGBT, Veteran and Women.

Steve Pemberton

“This event drew an even greater relationship between the products and services these small and diverse businesses can create and getting them into our supply chain and meeting the needs of our customers,” said Steve Pemberton, vice president of diversity and inclusion and global chief diversity officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. “It’s a demographic destiny that we are in the middle of right now, and we need to target these new and growing markets. I really appreciated the diverse entrepreneurial spirit that was in the room today at our event.”

ECRM was “glad to partner with Walgreens Boots Alliance” to develop this program, which enabled it to find and source supplier diversity from within the consumer packaged goods industry, commented Wayne Bennett, senior vice president for retail at ECRM.

“Aligning the goals of the merchant teams is an important component of what we do at ECRM,” Bennett said. “The Walgreens Supplier Diversity Summit turned out to be an outstanding day of learning, access and network building. ECRM is a business process solutions provider that helps retailers become more efficient and do more with less. We are the extension of the merchant team to help them win in a retail environment that continues to put pressure on margin and consumer engagement.”


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