One connection the CDMA has established between retailers and manufacturers is the Quality Choice private-label over-the-counter health and beauty care products, for which it serves as the main distributor. Quality Choice includes more than 1,000 SKUs distributed to members, who collectively buy from manufacturers in a co-op arrangement. Products are kept in the CDMA’s warehouse and shipped out to order. 

The association also supports retailers with promotions, marketing materials and merchandising. “It’s difficult for local and regional retailers to buy products in large quantities and at distribution rates, so we serve as the distributor for them,” Devine says. “Our retailers aren’t marketers, as their first focus is being consumer-driven, so we want to give them the tools they need to be stronger than their competition, which includes large national chains and big-box stores.”

Devine notes that the Quality Choice products have greater profit margins for retailers than their name brand equivalents. “Building a private-label program has allowed our retailers to be more profitable and serve customers better than they had before,” he adds.

New ‘Awaken’-ing

The success of the Quality Choice private label over the past several years led CDMA to launch the Awaken by Quality Choice sub-brand earlier this year. The line includes 85 SKUs including skincare and haircare products. 

Devine credits Director of Private Brands Kim Leach with the successful launch of the Awaken line. “She has helped bring innovation to the company within the private brand space,” Devine says. “Her ability to think outside of the box and provide retailers with competitive tools they can increase profits with has been very important.”

“We wanted to separate our skincare line from our Quality Choice over-the-counter product brand. On average, 70 percent of shoppers are women, so it was crucial that our skincare line depicted a quality product with a feminine feel,” Leach says. “We also had little room for error since our distribution is local and regional; we didn’t want to separate Quality Choice from the skincare line entirely.”

Stock Stuffers

Quality Choice is one of several ways the CDMA offers to help members fill their shelves. The association also has partnered with the True Value Company to offer general merchandise and name-brand products in categories including automotive, electronics, hardware, kitchen gadgets, light bulbs, personal care, small appliances and seasonal items. True Value offers more than 67,000 items serving more than 6,500 drug and hardware retailers. CDMA members can order items from True Value daily. 

CDMA members’ general merchandise needs are also met through the Everyday Essentials program, which provides 4,000 additional items including school supplies, cleaning supplies and cosmetics.

Products can also be sourced from the CDMA’s 150 associate vendor supplier partners that offer services, displays and products including candy, cosmetics, haircare and durable medical equipment. 

The association recently enhanced its ability to communicate with retail and manufacturing partners alike when it implemented NetSuite’s One World cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. The system incorporates many of CDMA’s back-of-house operations such as accounting, customer relationship management and distribution.

Staff Growth

The new ERP system and expanded product lines reflect the CDMA’s evolution from a small, close-knit organization into a larger entity. The association, which has been led by President James Devine for more than 25 years, is adding new management personnel. “We have grown so much and now have so many facets to our operation,” Devine says. 

John Devine says the CDMA is looking for new managers who can bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the association. “We want to hire the right people for these new positions and give the people we already have the room and freedom to be innovative in their space,” he says.