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    Collaboration the Key to Grocery Sales Growth, Say GMA Panelists

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Several industry movers and shakers spoke yesterday on the importance of retailer and supplier collaboration, during the GMA Merchandising, Sales, and Marketing (MSM) Conference here.

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Several industry movers and shakers spoke yesterday on the importance of retailer and supplier collaboration, during the GMA Merchandising, Sales, and Marketing (MSM) Conference here.

    At the Retail Town Hall on Finding Growth, a high-powered panel weighed in on the steps the both sides of the industry should taker to address existing substantial challenges to growth that include an elusive customer to an uncertain business environment.

    "Today we have greater information that we can turn into better knowledge to execute better and get products to consumers," said Ben Fischer, president of Crossmark, a national sales and marketing agency. "It creates a win-win for both manufacturers and retailers."

    The challenge is not in getting data, but in acting on it, said Don Hurrle, v.p. of sales and grocery market at The J.M. Smucker Company. "The information is great," he told attendees. "It is just a matter of implementing it."

    Insight from trade and retail partners can help companies focus on what the consumer wants and what will drive business, according to the panelists.

    "It is really about innovation, about creating value-added store experiences and raising the retail bar," said Tom Furphy, managing director of CPG partnering at Amazon.com Inc. and a former executive at Wegmans Food Markets. "The further you raise the bar, the higher the customer will jump to go over that bar."

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