Meijer announced Jan. 20 that it will host its first virtual Localization Summit, giving local businesses across the retailer's six-state footprint the opportunity to showcase their offerings to Meijer merchants.
The event is similar to Hy-Vee’s recently announced Best of Local Brands summits, which the West Des Moines, Iowa-based retailer will host quarterly this year.
Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer’s virtual event will take place April 1 and focus on four categories: grocery, including fresh, deli and bakery; baby; beauty and personal care; and over-the-counter and wellness.
"We are proud to be a Midwestern retailer and want to carry products that highlight our communities," said Peter Whitsett, EVP of merchandising and marketing for Meijer, in a release. "Each Meijer store should represent its customers and the community that makes those customers unique. This event gives us the chance to source products from our customers' hometowns, which makes their shopping experience even more meaningful."
Businesses that manufacture or grow retail-ready products in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan or Wisconsin can apply by Friday, Feb. 19, for consideration.
"Many small, local businesses offer great products but can be hesitant to approach a major retailer because they are not necessarily ready to distribute to hundreds of stores," said Jamie Akemann, group VP of global sourcing, indirect procurement, supplier diversity and product quality for Meijer. "This is the perfect opportunity for those businesses. The point of this summit is to bring in local businesses and accommodate what they can do now, while also building a partnership to help them grow in the future."
The Localization Summit comes on the heels of the retailer's Supplier Diversity Summit in November, during which Meijer merchants met with nearly 250 diverse suppliers to diversify their vendor base and better serve their customers. These events are part of the retailer's ongoing efforts to enhance the diversity of its business partners and amplify growth in its communities.
"Offering local products has always been an important part of what we do at Meijer, but now we want to take it up a notch and accelerate our efforts," Meijer Group VP of Foods Don Sanderson said. "It means a lot to our customers to know they are supporting a local business, especially when it comes to food. It's nice to know that what you're putting in your body was grown or made right in your own back yard."
Meijer is partnering with Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing (ECRM) and its subsidiary product discovery tool, RangeMe, to host the Localization Summit through the company's ECRM Connect virtual platform.
Once applications for the event are submitted, Meijer teams will review and select the vendors they would like to meet at the virtual summit. Suppliers not chosen for the summit will still be accessible through the RangeMe registration tool and may be reviewed by Meijer merchants again in the future as business needs change.