2021 CMA|SIMA Conference

Reimagining Retail, Transforming Processes

Week 1 of the CMA|SIMA Conference introduced us to the future of conferencing, in the form of the brand-new virtual ARC Campus which provided a shared space for thought leadership, live Q&A, networking, and digital booths in our Technology Expo Hall.

Week 2 took us even further, providing exciting new opportunities to learn about the bright future of our industry and transform our processes to bring about that future now. During Week 2, we attended new executive roundtables focused on the latest omnichannel best practices and enjoyed a virtual cocktail/mocktail hour partnering with Cocktails to Go and sponsored by Tyson. We also mastered the ARC Virtual Campus technology, seeing more personal messaging, booked meetings, and visits to the Tech Expo Hall than in Week 1.

Week 2 Content Recap

We featured 3 keynotes and 13 breakout presentations in Week 2, with content focused on what’s changed in retail and how we can capitalize on it.


  • To start off the week, 84.51 VP of Commercial Insights BARBARA CONNORS challenged the speed with which we monitor and action on shopper insights in “The New Normal: Unlocking Insights in an Uncertain World.”
    ‌‌‌Barbara Connors 2021 CMA|SIMA Conference keynote presentation: Finding Insights in an Uncertain World‌‌
  • Kellogg’s VP of Category Management STACEY RING-SANDERS showed us how to stop thinking about online and in store as US versus THEM and start thinking about how we can make 1+1 = 3 in “The AND – Winning in Center Store and Online.”‌

Stacey-Ring Sanders 2021 CMA|SIMA Conference Keynote: The AND - Winning in Center Store and Online

  • Closing out the Conference, Xerxes Global CTO and AI Expert YVES BOUSSEMART identified the HUGE changes AI, ML, and DL are bringing to the retail world now and in the future during “The Impact of AI on Retail in 2021 and Beyond.

Yves Boussemart 2021 CMA|SIMA Conference Keynote Presentation: The Impact of AI on Retail in 2021 and Beyond‍‌


Our five breakout tracks also returned for Week 2, with a renewed focus on learnings from COVID, omnichannel best practices, conducting category management and shopper insights virtually, and more:

Troy Ault and Dave Nolen 2021 CMA|SIMA Conference Breakout Presentation

    1. Our highest attended breakout session of the conference came on Day 5, with TROY AULT and DAVE NOLEN discussing how to optimize assortment by fulfillment type in “Winning in an Omnichannel World” track.

      Nick Matar 2021 CMA|SIMA Conference Breakout Presentation: How Discretionary Categories Pivoted During COVID‌‌
    2. “The Lasting Impact of COVID” focused on both profitability challenges as well as the impact on non-essential categories like apparel with talks like NICK MATAR’s “How Discretionary Categories Pivoted During COVID.”

      Scott Cahall 2021 CMA|SIMA Conference Breakout Q&A after Presentation: Crafting and Retaining Your Next Leader
    3. “Teams of Tomorrow” reflected on how our work processes, environments, and partnerships have changed in the remote environment and provided tips for navigating the future in featured talks like SCOTT CAHALL’s “Crafting and Retaining Your Next Leader” and SARA REEVES “Making the Most Out of Virtual Buyer Meetings.”
    4. “Technology Disruption” looked into how automation, AI and robotics will fundamentally alter the way we do business, with talks including RICHARD SCHWARTZ’s “Robotics in Retail” and DEVIN LONG’s “The Democratization of Data and Rise of the Chief Data Officer.”In case you missed it, check out this teaser from Devin’s session:
  1. “Retail in 2030” explored what supply chain, product traceability, and in-store experiences will look like 10 years from now, with the help of talks like KATE MACHTIGER’s “Retail Shopping Experience of the Future.”
    Kate Machtiger 2021 CMA|SIMA Conference Breakout Presentation: The Shape of the Future

Emerging Technology & Training

For Week 2’s Emerging Technology presentations, our sponsors Nuqleous and Numerator both brought real clients along to share stories of the success they achieved using our sponsor’s solutions, and what we can learn from their victories.

CMKG’s SUE NICHOLLS also provided another training session, this time focused on the “New Analytics for Category Management” that helped us learn how we can adapt to the overwhelming amount of data in today’s retail world.

CMKG 2021 CMA|SIMA Conference training with Dr. Sue Nicholls

Rising to New Retail Realities Together

Week 2 of the 2021 CMA|SIMA Conference demonstrated what our professional industry is capable of when we work together. Over the course of the 2021 CMA|SIMA Conference, we delivered 8 keynote presentations, 32 breakout sessions, 6 hours of facilitated networking, 2 live training courses, and 14 booths at Tech Expo Hall, all to over 1,200 attendees.

Working together has always been the goal of CMA|SIMA. We believe that by bringing category management and shopper insights professionals together, even virtually, we can elevate our industry and serve our customers better than ever before. Week 2 of the CMA|SIMA Conference proved it.