Manufacturers ‘buy-in’ to retail

Friday, October 11, 2013

ORLANDO, Fla. – More than 20 manufacturers submitted products for the inaugural Innovative HME Retail Product Awards at Medtrade, a sign that providers aren’t the only ones who see promise in retail, organizers say.

“We’re seeing a lot of buy-in from providers, but also from manufacturers,” said Rob Baumhover, director of retail programs for The VGM Group and lead architect of the show’s Retail Design Center. “There’s been more activity. Providers are looking for new products to help them be prosperous and profitable, and manufacturers are doing their due diligence by asking, ‘What kind of products can we come up with to help them?’”


A judging panel of retail experts, including Baumhover, selected five winners: Royal EZ (a device that allows caregivers to push a user up to a table with little effort); iWalk2.0 (a hands-free crutch); EVE (a heating pad that helps relieve menstrual cramps); Next Generation Socks (indoor footwear that’s anti-microbial and skid resistant) and Wellness Brief and Underwear (adult diapers inspired by NASA technology).

The winners were featured in a window display in the Retail Design Center at Medtrade and were the centerpiece of a roundtable discussion at the show led by Jim Greatorex, a judge and president of Black Bear Medical, which does a brisk retail business in Portland, Maine.

“A lot of providers, like me, are going to the show to find the next best retail product, and this is an educational way to make them aware of the products that we feel have the greatest opportunity,” he said.

Baumhover and Greatorex will be the first to admit that seeing potential in a retail product at Medtrade is one thing; making it a success back at your store is another. That’s why he and the other judges looked very closely at each manufacturer’s ability to support sales of their products.

“There are a lot of pieces behind the scenes for providers—training, co-marketing,” Baumhover said. “It’s not just, ‘We have this great product.’”

Greatorex says the awards, and the increasing number of retail-related offerings, in general, have made Medtrade a can’t-miss event.

“I think Medtrade is taking some forward steps to make the show as opportunistic for both the manufacturers exhibiting and the providers attending,” he said.