Thanks to a unique new partnership between Educational Dealer magazine and ECRM, each of the 126 supplier companies at the Education Supplies EPPS in January had the opportunity to create a two-minute video about one of its products for free. One-third of them did so, and retailers and dealers in our industry can view them anytime on EducationalDealerMagazine.com. (Select “New Products.”)
“Devoting time at the event to custom video production is one way we added value to the suppliers’ EPPS investment,” notes Rachel Schultz, ECRM’s marketing & communications manager.
“Producing videos and posting them on our website is simply an extension of our role as the only trade magazine in the industry,” explains Tim Braden, vice president of Fahy-Williams, Ed Dealer’s publisher. “We’ve provided stores with information on new products for more than 30 years. Today, they can read about new products in our magazine and enewsletter, and watch videos about them online.”
Now in its sixth year, ECRM’s Educational Supplies Efficient Program Planning Session (EPPS) consists of one-on-one strategic meetings that connect buyers with sellers. More than 70 buying companies participated in the 2016 EPPS in Destin, Florida. ECRM’s private-meeting format is designed to streamline the sourcing process, grow incremental sales and uncover industry trends.
ECRM manages EPPS events for a variety of industries that range from general merchandise – like pet supplies and household electronics – to pharmacy and grocery categories. Next year, ECRM is launching a gold-jewelry EPPS.
In April, for the first time, ECRM will hold its Specialty Toys EPPS. Scheduled for Monday, April 18 through Wednesday, April 20 in Westminster, Colorado, the event will cover these categories:
- arts & craft kits,
- board games & puzzles,
- building sets, model and hobby,
- infant and preschool toys and accessories,
- math and science discovery kits,
- outdoor toys, play equipment, ride-ons and sporting goods,
- pretend play,
- collectibles and
- special needs.
How it works
ECRM (for Efficient Collaborative Retail Marketing) matches vendors with buyers in advance of EPPS, based on company profiles submitted by each participant as well as company capabilities. A custom schedule is prepared with buyers moving from presentation to presentation. Each individual’s schedule is available ahead of time on their cell phone or tablet, thanks to the ECRM Connects ™ app.
“Buyers and sellers are prequalified before the meetings are scheduled to make sure that their business capabilities align,” explains Schultz. “A personalized account management team and best practice programs support the customized format. It all helps participating companies execute their business objectives more effectively.
“For buyers, the EPPS it’s an opportunity to discover new products they may not see otherwise,” she continued. “For suppliers, the EPPS is an opportunity to get face time with people who can make purchasing decisions about their items – buyers they might not necessarily get to meet with in an office visit.”
Three new products were honored at the EPPS with Educational Dealer’s Buyer’s Choice awards. The top choice among voting buyers was Three Little Piggies, a brain game for children ages 36 months to 10 years. “Kids are intrigued by the way the pigs fit inside the houses and look through the windows,” says the description from manufacturer Smart Toys and Games. The game features three big puzzle pieces that are easy to hold, plus a storybook with images and a booklet with 48 challenges.
In second place was Learning Essentials Stem Robot Mouse for children ages 5 and up, from Learning Resources. With the set, kids build a maze and then use coding cards to create a step-by-step path for Colby, the Programmable Robot Mouse.
Third place went to the Sensory Cushion Hoodie from Senseez Pillows. The portable vibrating cushions are especially helpful for children with autism, ADHD, or sensory processing disorder. They calm kids who need more sensory feedback, or help hypersensitive kids tolerate more sensations.
“The retailers who cast their votes for these products have a sound understanding of the kinds of things their customers are looking for,” Braden explains. “We hope that by giving these innovative products the recognition they deserve, we’ll help more stores meet the needs of parents and teachers.”
Like Educational Dealer at the Educational Supplies EPPS, edplay toy trade magazine will launch an awards program at the first-ever Specialty Toy EPPS in April. edplay, another Fahy-Williams publication, will also record and produce product demonstration videos available for view on edplay.com.