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CROSSMARK Center for Collaboration in Bentonville, Arkansas

Sales and marketing services leader Crossmark unveiled a first-of-its-kind collaboration center on July 10 just steps from Walmart's Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters. The new facility offers the retailer and its trading partners a wide range of joint business planning, shopper insights and store execution capabilities.

The 18,500-sq.-ft. facility, branded as the CROSSMARK Center for Collaboration, is unlike anything in the retail industry due to its proximity to the world's largest retailer and range of capabilities. It features nine rooms of various sizes with flat panel displays and state-of-the-art communications technology, a presentation kitchen where food samples can be prepared as a customer would in a home environment and a solutions center focused on on-shelf availability and shopper research. In addition, there are two rooms equipped with 8 foot by 16 foot PRYSM digital touch-screen walls capable of replicating store shelves and a large space on the second floor that can accommodate more than 100 people for meetings or be converted into a product display area.

At the opening ceremony, Mike Graen, Crossmark's vp of collaboration, characterized the facility as a tool that will enable new levels of collaboration. Crossmark CEO Ben Fischer added that the Center fits with the premise on which the company was founded.

"As a service company, we were built to help other companies achieve their goals by finding better ways to build and grow brands and reduce costs," Fischer said.

Increasingly that process involves retailers and suppliers working more closely together across a range of disciplines such as merchandising, marketing, operations and supply chain in their respective organizations. Crossmark hopes to facilitate such meetings at its new facility with existing clients as well as companies who are not its customers.

"It can't just be for our clients because that would defeat the purpose and it wouldn't create value for Walmart," Fischer said.

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