Who’s who in the WDS team?
To make your Costco demo and sampling experience truly effective, you’ll be working closely with the WDS team. They’re brilliant – we would say that, of course, but over thirty years we’ve built up quite the collection of talented, experienced people who work with our vendors to deliver experiential, sampling, demonstration, consultancy and training services for Costco demos.
But at the start, when you’ve exchanged emails and are still building working partnerships, you may not be sure who to turn to with a query about this or that aspect of your in-store endeavours.
Let’s fix that.
We’ll introduce you to our teams and the people in them, starting with the account managers – because nine times out of ten, they’re the people you’ll meet first. We’ll put some faces to names, describe what they do, and share they kinds of questions you might need to ask each of them, showing you the help they’re best positioned to give.
Mainstream Accounts Team
Mainstream accounts are often clusters of brands that have huge product ranges and a lot of activity – the Procter & Gambles or PepsiCos.
Arlene Mills is top of the tree: she’s our Account Manager for Costco. In that capacity, Arlene oversees all of the buyers within all of the departments that WDS deal with. Arlene’s FAQs tend to go further than single points of enquiry. She’s your go-to for strategy and brand goals, establishing what a Costco demo can do for you.
Chelsea Lovegrove is the Mainstream Account Manager; she oversees and develops relationships with new and existing vendors, meets with Costco to maintain the partnership, and serves as the main point of contact for Costco and the majority of vendors. Chelsea also manages the super demos – the high profile, bespoke experiences that run for a minimum of a week.
Things you might ask Chelsea:
- What is the best day to day demo?
- What kinds of service does WDS offer?
- Do Costco staff do the demos?
Alongside Chelsea, you’ll meet Lucy Hobden, our Mainstream Account Executive. Once Costco agrees to a demo, Lucy arranges and plans it, making sure you have the support you need. She organise the demos, works with you to choose the right service and get the most out of it, and represents you to the rest of our business.
Lucy is your main point of liaison with our warehouse teams. Each team has a demo services manager and a deputy – with two people leading demos on the ground, these teams are able to operate seven days a week. These leaders manage the brand ambassadors, demo space, product supply, point of sale and health and safety on the day.
Things you might ask Lucy:
- What is the difference between a single and dual demo?
- Should we use selling or sample stock for demos?
- Do we run the demos on the same day in every warehouse?
- What demo dates are available?
- How will we demonstrate the products?
- How do dual demos work?
Specialist Accounts Team
Our specialist accounts team works with vendors who aren’t stocked in Costco all the time, or with roadshow demos that tour between warehouses, staying at each one for a week or two at a time. They also work with the kind of products that need specially trained ambassadors, who are acting as consultants and advisors as well as demonstrators; training those people is part of Specialist Accounts’ remit.
Rebecca Potter is Specialist Accounts Manager, responsible for overseeing the specialist events teams and supporting vendors at the planning and organising stage of a special event, ensuring we provide the right experience and the right people.
Things you might ask Rebecca:
- Can we upgrade demos to super demos?
- Do you supply consultants for special events?
Elena Rusesc is the Specialist Accounts Executive, and she handles all the demos for small appliances and electrical goods. Elena works directly with vendors and warehouses to organise training, book the demos themselves, and ensure the briefings and kit for the demos arrive on time.
Things you might ask Elena:
- What does WDS provide on the day?
- How do we train your people to use our product?
In addition to their work on Special Events, Becca and Elena also help out with Costco’s food roadshows and other events programme.
BRAEM (Business Relations and Event Management) Support
There is one more team member you’re likely to meet, who works closely with her counterparts in Costco.
Shannon Fulton looks after the four-days-per-week demo program Costco run in Reykjavik, which often works with local products that need a dedicated overseer. She also looks after dual demonstrations, matching up vendors whose products go together like cheese and chutney. And finally, she’s the social media specialist, liaising with vendors and Costco to establish permissions and schedules for promoting warehouse experiences online.
Things you might ask Shannon:
- Can we have feedback on how the demonstrations went?
- Can you book us a demo in Iceland?
- How can we share our demo on Costco’s Facebook page?
A brief look at Costco
All of our demo teams have one responsibility in common – liaising with Costco on your behalf. To understand who handles what, it helps to understand how Costco itself is structured. Their departments divide into four groups:
- Hardlines includes office supplies, auto supplies, hardware, toys, garden goods, health and beauty
- Softlines takes in clothing, domestics, media and jewellery, as well as furniture and appliances
- Fresh Foods and Ancillary covers the meats, baked goods, food court and produce, along with optical and hearing, photo booths and gas, and events kiosks
- Food and Sundries is, in a word, massive: groceries, deli, bread and frozen foods fall under one team’s remit, while another handles tobacco, confectionery, wines, beers, and spirits, as well as all export goods
As an aside, all those groups give code numbers to the specific departments their buyers oversee – so when Specialist Accounts Executive Elena Rusesc is in electricals mode, she might talk about “Dept. 33”.
From our side, the structure is a little simpler, although there’s some overlap between responsibilities. Basically, Chelsea and Lucy divide up Fresh Foods and Sundries between themselves, while Elena is responsible for Softlines and Shannon for exports to Iceland.
We do it this way so we can concentrate our expertise where it’s needed. There are thirty years of experience at work in WDS, spanning sectors from food and drink to health and beauty and back. You’ve met all the key people – and you know how they work together to bring your demo to life.
Got questions about your WDS demo? Now you know who to ask for, why not get in touch?