2018 NACDS Total Store Expo Preview

The 2018 NACDS Total Store Expo is the total package for industry leaders

who want to keep up with trends in chain drug stores.


The 2018 NACDS Total Store Expo is the largest gathering of chain drugstore professionals. To give readers an idea of what to expect on Aug. 25-27 in Denver, Retail Merchandiser spoke with Jim Whitman, senior vice president of member programs and services for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.

Retail Merchandiser: Is there anything new on the program this year, or anything returning that is especially popular with attendees? (Ex: Meet the Market, Supply Chain Summit, etc.)

Jim Whitman: The program is carefully prepared to address the topics of keen interest to attendees, in a format that is highly effective. You mentioned Meet the Market and the Supply Chain Summit, and I would add Meet the Industry, the Insight Sessions, the Product Showcase and the Online Press Room. In a few examples, the Insight Sessions will include discussion of advancing collaborative patient care, expanding people’s access to pharmacy care, the role of pharmacies as part of the solution to the opioid abuse epidemic, destination retailing, omnichannel commerce, women’s impact on the industry, pharmaceutical trends and issues, and voice-activated ordering.

When you talk about what’s new, it is important to note the innovation that will be found in the products and services in the exhibit hall. The event takes on a new and fresh identity each year based on the new offerings of exhibitors.

RM: What retail/wellness trends do you expect to see discussed or exhibited at the show?

JW: Health and wellness remains a big focus in the industry and at the NACDS Total Store Expo. Under that umbrella, companies evaluate the role of nutrition, cosmetics, prescription and over-the-counter medications, and so much more, as part of the health and wellness equation. We are seeing the continued emergence of trends related to the greater understanding of the role of caregivers, whether that means caring for children or caring for elderly parents. Of course, another significant driver of trends is the way that millennials view all of these topics, and the similarities and differences compared with the perspectives of other generations.

RM: How are current events in Washington perhaps influencing the industry and NACDS?

JW: There is a recognition that perhaps now more than ever before it is important to be engaged. Uncertainties create an even greater need for a strong NACDS. There are health and wellness issues in focus at the federal and state levels, as well as economic and tax policy. These issues affect every company, retailers and suppliers alike. The Political Involvement Reception will be another important touch point, and an opportunity for discussion. We will have Josh Earnest as the speaker, who will be able to share his perspectives as a former White House press secretary.

RM: What do you think attendees will find most rewarding at this year’s event?

JW: Eligible Meet the Market participants will find tremendous value in that important feature of the conference. The Meet the Industry sessions also will be rich with insights, from companies including Facebook, XRC Labs and Surescripts. Attendees will enjoy hearing from NACDS Chairman Mark Panzer of Albertsons during the Business Program. He will share his vision for health and wellness and serving the consumer. Again, the products and services featured in the exhibit hall will offer tremendous opportunities, including the Vision 2029 pavilion featuring new and innovative companies.

RM: Will there be any notable speakers this year?

JW: In the NACDS tradition of presenting timely and relevant speakers, retired General Michael Hayden will speak at the Business Program. As a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, he will bring a lot of knowledge and experience on cybersecurity, national security and international relations. Really, the entire NACDS Total Store Expo will feature a remarkable depth and breadth of speakers. That will be evident at the Insight Sessions, Meet the Industry, the Supply Chain Summit and more.

RM: How are you getting the word out about NACDS? Are you doing anything special on social media?

JW: Social media is very much part of how we tell the story of NACDS and of the industry, and how we inform members of how to make the most of the NACDS Total Store Expo. We offer an array of videos that help attendees prepare for the conference, including the always-popular “Know-Before-You-Go” video and other video content specific to all aspects of the meeting. On-site, NACDS-TV will provide ongoing coverage, including interviews with retailers, manufacturers, industry leaders and those who are innovating in many different ways.

RM: How has the drugstore industry changed over recent years?

JW: Technology certainly continues to play an important role for retailers, manufacturers and all aspects of the supply chain. It is all focused on improving customer service. E-commerce technology is at the forefront of every discussion.