Guide To Success

This primer is for first-time attendees and seasoned participants who are interested in maximizing their opportunities at the NACDS Total Store Expo. It has been developed by members of the NACDS Retail Advisory Board and is based on their collective experiences.

Welcome to TSE in Boston!

​Know Before You Go

The guide includes detailed information about the meeting and proven tactics others have found helpful. The descriptions and suggestions are taken from actual business practices of successful NACDS members. The sole focus of this guide is to help you prepare for and gain greater value from your participation in NACDS meetings. Your preparation, conduct, and follow-up to these meetings will determine your company’s unique Return on Investment.

The Total Store Expo format includes a formal business program featuring business experts and renowned speakers. The Expo also includes a variety of Insight Sessions which features industry experts and panels on some of today’s most important issues. Some sessions offer CE credit for pharmacists. These sessions are followed by meetings between retailers and exhibitors in the exhibit hall.

First-time attendees should make it a priority to attend both the Meet the Market and Meet the Industry programs on Saturday.

In the evenings there are a variety of social functions, some are official NACDS functions, while others are private, “by invitation only” events.

​What Sets the Total Store Expo Apart

Who Attends

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

During the Exhibit Hall hours, it is common to see senior, multifunctional 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.

Exhibit Hall Format & Appointments

The Total Store Expo is an appointment-based trade show, although many retailers do walk the aisles looking for new companies and ideas, it is STRONGLY recommended you make appointments well in advance of the meeting.

We encourage associate members to contact the specific companies and individuals you would like to meet with during the Total Store Expo. As a registrant, you will be able to obtain contact information for all attendees.

Networking Opportunities

NACDS has carefully formatted the Total Store Expo to create opportunities for Exhibitors and Retailers to interact. Successful Exhibitors take full advantage of these opportunities to meet Retailers and start conversations.

The daily Networking Continental Breakfasts, Exhibit Hall Lunches and evening receptions are great opportunities to meet new prospects and reconnect with partners.

​Advance Tips

  • Start your planning early – TODAY!
  • Become familiar with the Total Store Expo website, particularly the Schedule. The website is updated every night with new information, including that day’s registrants, so be sure to check back on a regular basis.
  • Check out NACDS-TV, a powerful tool of instructional and informational videos to assist in preparing for the show.
  • Visit the Exhibitors Resources page for helpful tools and information Booth Logistics Tips, and a list of upcoming webinars targeted to new exhibitors.
  • Start soliciting appointments now!
  • Contact information for all attendees is available on the Participants webpage. Learn how to leverage Participating Companies to maximize your meetings by watching this video.
  • Register all company employees and obtain hotel reservations as soon as possible. Once you have purchased your booth space, your companies “booth contact” will receive instructions and an access code to register your company’s employees and make hotel reservations. If you don’t know your company’s “booth contact” give us a call at (703) 837-4300, extension 2, or send an email to
  • Registering early allows you to view the Participants list so you can start making those valuable appointments right away. Retailer schedules fill up fast so don’t hesitate!
  • Want all your employees in the same hotel? Close to the convention center? Once registered make your hotel reservations ASAP! Hotels sell out quickly!
  • Download the NACDS Events app, available in early June. This essential tool provides the most current information at your fingertips, wherever you are!

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.

​Appointment Tips

  • Determine who you want to meet with, and what you want to accomplish with them. Check the Participants section of the website frequently for meeting attendees and their contact information. Familiarize yourself with the retailers and make sure you are meeting with the right person/people. You must be registered for the meeting and have a username and password to gain access to this information.
  • If you are unknown to the retailer, call for the appointment yourself, it’s much more productive than having your administrative assistant do it. Be prepared to answer the hard question, “How will we benefit from meeting with you?”
  • If you are unable to make calls yourself and 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 retailers, consider engaging a broker. Call NACDS, we can assist you with a list of current Sales & Marketing Companies and Manufacturer Representatives.
  • 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. Be familiar with their go-to-market strategies and provide data analytics.
  • Retailers have indicated the most productive meetings are those where an agenda was shared prior to the meeting allowing the right people to be in the meeting to address the opportunity. Consider using the NACDS Collaborative Agenda Development tool to assist in your meeting planning and help you to decide who needs to participate in your meetings.
  • Make sure you have done your homework regarding the retailer. Review their website, social media sites, download their mobile app, and learn as much as you can about them.
  • Develop a one-page summary detailing the important points about your company, key products, point of difference, your targeted consumer, and any performance metrics that set you apart from your competition.
  • Consider sending an advance thank you along with a sample of your product to remind the retailer of the appointment or an after meeting thank you to recap what was accomplished.
  • Take notes and follow-up on action items 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 a schedule or location change.

What to Expect: Saturday

If you were unable to register on Friday, do so first thing Saturday morning. Registration opens at 7:00 a.m., followed by your first opportunity to meet retailers at the Networking Continental Breakfast, 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. and Meet the Market, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Meet the Market is a special program designed to introduce the latest innovative products, technologies and services to the retail audience at the NACDS Total Store Expo. Participating exhibitors present their company and products to buyers through a series of 10-minute appointments arranged by NACDS – thousands of presentations are made in this pre- exhibition event. There is no additional charge to participate in Meet the Market, but you must register by Friday, July 12, 2019.

How to Get Your Share of the Business of Well is a special session conducted from 12:30 p.m – 2:00 p.m. Wendy Liebmann, CEO, WSL Strategic Retail, and her team will show you what your organization can do to address the rapid changes to business shoppers are making as they take charge of their own health and wellness.

NACDS will host a reception for the NACDS Political Action Committee (NACDS-PAC). To learn more about this reception and other activities of the NACDS PAC and throughout the year, contact Vanessa Callen at

Don’t miss the Welcome Event from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Everyone will be there! This is the perfect opportunity to network and catch up with business partners.

What to Expect: Sunday

The day begins with a Networking Continental Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. followed by our Business Program at 8:00 a.m. Periodically check the TSE Website for updated speaker information.

At 10:00 a.m. appointments begin in the Exhibit Hall with lunch available 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The Exhibit Hall closes at 6:00 p.m. but you can continue to meet with retailers at the Total Store Expo Reception, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, Marriott Grand Ballroom. The remainder of the evening is open, so make your dinner appointments and reservations prior to arriving in San Diego.

What to Expect: Monday

Monday starts with the Networking Continental Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. held prior to our informative, innovative, and topical Insight Sessions from 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. at the San Diego Convention Center. Again, check the Schedule as session descriptions and speakers are frequently added.

Appointments continue in the Exhibit Hall, 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., with lunch available 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. The exhibit hall closes and dismantle begins at 6:00 p.m.

On Monday evening, plan to attend the NACDS San Diego Extravaganza to be held in the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina, Marriott Grand Ballroom! The evening will feature plenty of great food, great music, and great opportunities to interact with your fellow attendees and find the one or two people that you would like to meet to make the Expo a success. Dress for the evening is casual. The perfect way to wrap up your successful conference!

​Register Now

​Don’t be left out of the biggest, most productive drug, food, and mass event of the year!

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