Guide To Success

This primer is for first-time attendees and long-time participants who are interested in maximizing their opportunities at the NACDS Annual Meeting. It has been developed by members of the Membership and Conferences Subcommittee of the NACDS Retail Advisory Board and is based on their collective experiences.

Know Before You Go

Gain greater value from your participation at Annual Meeting. Your preparation, conduct, and follow-up to these meetings will determine your company’s unique Return on Investment (ROI).

Meeting Format

During the strategic exchange appointments, it is common to see senior executives of major retail organizations meet with their counterparts from leading CPG or pharmaceutical companies. The meetings are vibrant, the exchanges are sometimes animated, and the results can be profound.

Who Attends?

Attendance at the Annual Meeting is comprised of the retail senior management team responsible for operating the business including: marketing, merchandising, supply chain, operations, and related functions in both CPG and pharmacy, and their associate member/supplier counterparts.


Specific appointments between retailers and manufacturers, with preset agendas, are recommended and are normally made well in advance of the meeting. In order to maximize the meeting’s value, plan on starting early, attending every function you can, and staying through the entire event. We encourage associate members to contact the specific companies and individuals you would like to meet with during the Annual Meeting.

Advance Tips

  • Start your planning early – now! Become familiar with the Schedule and start building your agenda.
  • Determine who you want to see, and what you want to accomplish with them. Check the Participating Companies frequently for new attendees and their contact information. Familiarize yourself with the attendee and their company and make sure you are meeting with the right person.
  • When you invite someone to meet with you, have a concise proposition and tell them up front what the potential opportunity could mean to their business.
  • If you are unknown to the attendee, call for the appointment yourself; it’s much more productive than having an assistant do it. Be prepared to answer the hard question, “How will we benefit from meeting with you?”
  • If you have a broker, or an independent sales and marketing firm relationship, ask them to help you set appointments.
  • If you are a smaller, less well-established company and don’t know the company, consider engaging with a broker. We can assist you with a list of current Sales & Marketing Companies and Manufacturer Representatives.
  • Extend dinner invitations and make reservations well in advance of the meeting. You can always reduce the number for the reservation or cancel.

Download the NACDS Events App

Navigate NACDS Meetings and Conferences like a pro with the mobile app, developed to enhance attendee experience.

With the NACDS Events app, users can:

  • Get the most up-to-date conference information and personalize your schedule.
  • Search for participating companies, bookmark favorites and navigate based on your location.
  • Access social media to keep up on all the buzz surrounding the event.

Strategic Exchange Appointment Tips

  • Start early soliciting appointments – now is not too early.
  • Develop a convincing proposition for each company as to why they will benefit from a meeting with you.
  • Establish an individually specific agenda for each meeting.
  • Make sure you have done your homework on the retailer. Check out their website, download their app, and learn as much as you can about them.
  • Develop a “one pager” summarizing the important points about your company, key products, point of difference, and any performance matrices that set you apart from your competition.
  • Consider room-dropping an advance thank you for a planned meeting to remind the person of the appointment or an after meeting thank you to recap what was accomplished.
  • Take notes and follow-up after the meeting – this may be your most critical success factor.
  • Ask for a mobile phone number from the companies you have appointments with, should there be schedule changes or location changes.

A Look at Your Day – Friday

We encourage you to arrive on Friday, as Saturday is a full day of private business meetings in the designated strategic exchange spaces. Registration opens at 10:00 a.m. Upon checking in at registration, you will receive your conference badge as well as all related materials. There will also be registration counters available for “The NACDS Luncheon” for spouses/companions, and the “Tuesday Board of Directors Dinner and Entertainment”. Seating reservations for Tuesday evening’s events will be available on Sunday morning. Friday ends with a special reception for sponsors with members of the NACDS Board of Directors and retailer attendees at 5:30 p.m.

We also encourage you to tour The Breakers upon your arrival to familiarize yourself with the property.

A Look at Your Day – Saturday

If you were unable to register on Friday afternoon, do so first thing Saturday morning. Registration opens at 7:00 a.m. followed by Strategic Exchange Appointments from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This venue provides numerous opportunities to meet and discuss strategic issues with your key trading partners.

There is also the Meet the Industry program from 8:00 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. for Associate members. The program consists of 30-minute sessions with a senior executive or team of executives to include an overview of their company, how they use the Annual Meeting to conduct business, and the kinds of topics they expect to discuss with suppliers during their meetings.

If this is your first time attending the Annual Meeting, make sure you attend the Inaugural Attendees’ Orientation from 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. You may meet a retailer or two, and you will certainly meet other attendees who are trying to accomplish the same thing you are.

Don’t miss the Opening Celebration on Saturday evening from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Everyone will be there. This is a great opportunity connect with new and existing business partners.

A Look at Your Day – Sunday

The day begins with Business Program I at 8:00 a.m. Periodically check the website for a listing of the speakers. At the conclusion of the Business Program, it’s back to the Strategic Exchange Appointments from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

If you are attending the Tuesday night Board of Directors Dinner, don’t forget to turn your event tickets in at the Tuesday Night Reservations counter in registration today. You must have a seat assignment to attend the Board of Directors Dinner and Entertainment.

Sunday evening is open, so make your dinner appointments and reservations prior to your arrival in Palm Beach.

A Look at Your Day – Monday

Strategic Exchange Appointments start at 8:00 a.m. and continue through 4:30 p.m.
Monday also starts with the Chain Members Breakfast & NACDS-PAC Event at 8:00 a.m. You must be an NACDS Chain Member or NACDS-PAC ticket holder in order to attend. This is a great opportunity to meet the NACDS Board of Directors and other retail attendees. Visit the NACDS-PAC booth at registration for more information on how to register.

If you have a spouse/companion attending the meeting with you, make sure they attend The NACDS Luncheon at 12:00 noon on Monday. This unique event, for spouses/companions only, is a wonderful and entertaining event. They will need to sign up during the registration process on Friday, Saturday or Sunday as seats for the luncheon are assigned.

A look at Your Day – Tuesday

Tuesday is the “4th Quarter.” This is your last formal opportunity to accomplish your objectives. Business Program II is scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Then it’s back to the Strategic Exchange Appointments from 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

The meeting closes with the Board of Directors Reception, Dinner and Entertainment. The Board of Directors Reception starts at 6:30 p.m. and is immediately followed by dinner. There are separate assigned seats for dinner and for the entertainment that follows. You will need tickets for these events. Seating reservations can be made at the Tuesday Night Reservations counter in the registration area, beginning Sunday, April 28th, until 12:00 noon on Monday, April 29th.

Register Now

It is the opportunities. It is the results. It is the relationships. It is the member service. All Chain and Associate Members in good standing with NACDS are invited to register and attend the Annual Meeting.

Register Now