GMDC|Retail Tomorrow rolls out 2021 virtual event plan, IHA partnership

David Salazar
Managing Editor
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Coming off a 2020 that featured successful virtual versions of its flagship General Merchandise Conference and Selfcare Summit, GMDC|Retail Tomorrow is rolling out a slate of virtual events for 2021. The first will take place in partnership with the International Housewares Association in April. 

The events will be focused on general merchandise, self-care, housewares and holiday/seasonal categories and scheduled over several weeks, allowing attendees the flexibility to schedule strategic and discovery meetings throughout the year to more frequently engage with partners. 

“Last October, we shifted our legacy GM Conference and Selfcare Summit events from in-person to a virtual setting in an effort to navigate the ongoing pandemic, while continuing to deliver opportunities for our members to conduct business despite the disruption caused by COVID-19,” said Patrick Spear, president  and CEO of GMDC|Retail Tomorrow. “Following our successful pivot, we gathered feedback from and listened to our members, evaluating what worked well during our virtual events and identifying where we could improve. We quickly discovered that more frequent, category-specific events better position our members to conduct business and grow in the ever-evolving COVID-19 landscape, and our unique capabilities to facilitate strategic and meaningful connections position us to fulfill this industry need.”

The full lineup of events includes:

  • April 6 to 23: Spring GM and Selfcare Strategic Executive Connection Meetings, in partnership with IHA;
  • June 1 to 11: Summer GM and Selfcare Discovery Sessions (Buyer’s Choice);
  • Sept. 14 to 23: Fall GM and Selfcare Strategic Executive Connection Meetings; and 
  • Oct. 13 and 14: Holiday Seasonal Strategic and Discovery Sessions. 

The April event will see GMDC|Retail Tomorrow partnering with IHA ot offer their members the ability to connect across associations, allowing IHA members to meet with GMDC|Retail Tomorrow’s nonfood retailers, wholesalers and suppliers. Session 1, running from April 6 to 9, will focus on self-care categories; Session 2, April 13 to 16, will focus on GM categories; and Session 3, April 20 to 23 will be Connect Grocery in partnership with IHA. 

“IHA’s mission is to bring buyers and sellers together regardless of format, and we are excited to work with GMDC|Retail Tomorrow to connect our supplier members with their buyer members during this virtual event,” said Derek Miller, IHA president. “Non-foods is an important and profitable category for grocery retailers, and until the industry can gather again in-person at The Inspired Home Show, this type of opportunity delivers the kind of new product and supplier discovery that retailers are craving right now.”

At the event, meetings will take place via the GMDC*Connect video conference platform, powered by Zoom. Buyers will indicate their interest in meeting with sellers by way of a ranking system. The event will not require a registration fee. Participating suppliers will be invoiced for each meeting scheduled and accepted during the event, but will also have the opportunity to register for all virtual events and meetings that will take place during the 2021 series, including the Preview Box program that delivers to retail and wholesale buyers a sneak peek of participating suppliers’ products prior to meeting.

“The nature of the retail experience and how we connect and conduct business is completely changed,” added Spear. “While our events will look and feel different in 2021, they will continue to deliver the same benefits expected by our members, only more frequently. “

For more information on the year’s virtual events, click here