ECRM has surpassed 100,000 curated meetings hosted on the ECRM Connect proprietary platform, which the company developed to enable buyers and sellers to engage in live, interactive digital meetings at scale. 

Top-tier buyer participation has also grown over 20 percent since before the pandemic as retailers and foodservice operators have embraced virtual and the efficiencies and time-savings it delivers over in-person meetings.

"You can't match the efficiency that virtual delivers when it comes to product discovery," said Sarah Groves, senior category manager at Southeastern Grocers. "I've participated in eight ECRM Virtual Programs since the platform launched and have had hundreds of meetings with suppliers. There is no way I could have met with that many brands in-person."

More than 3,450 buyers and 2,965 suppliers have participated in 100,745 meetings across 92 category-specific virtual sessions targeted for the U.S., European, Latin American and Asian markets since ECRM Connect launched in May 2020. The platform enables buyers and sellers to participate in face-to-face video meetings and is customized with tools specific to their meeting needs, including the ability to take meeting notes, review products and supplier capabilities, rank meetings with a one- to five-star rating, and communicate follow-up timelines and any next steps. 

Buyers around the world are seeing the ECRM Connect platform as a way to easily discover brands from the comfort of their homes regardless of location. 

“I think it’s a new way of doing business and it’s probably going to stay even after COVID is gone,” said Conor O’Farrell, buying manager for Positive Healthcare at Boots Ireland. 

ECRM’s Virtual Programs are also enabling buyers to follow up more quickly and as a result, suppliers are getting on the shelf faster than ever. 

“ECRM’s Virtual Programs have been instrumental in our plans for launching into the mass retail market,” said Ahmad Rifaie, v.p. of sales and marketing for beverage brand Savia USA. “We’re already on the shelves of one national retailer, and will soon be in another, each from ECRM Programs in which we participated the second half of last year.”

ECRM will be hosting more than 100 global virtual sessions across categories this year. In this time of uncertainty and travel restrictions, ECRM continues to deliver value to buyers and sellers by providing solutions that help them continue moving forward with their business, as the company has done for the past 25 years.

“It’s clear from the feedback we’ve been getting from buyers and sellers that virtual meetings are here to stay,” said Kurt Repola, senior v.p. of marketing for ECRM. “Remote engagement has been integrated into our customers’ day-to-day operations since the start of the pandemic, and most plan to make it a key component of how they conduct business moving forward.”