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Top 5 things to consider before approaching a retail buyer

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I’ve yet to meet an under-worked buyer. An independent retail buyer will likely wear a number of hats; potentially looking after sales, IT, general management and the staff as well as buying. At the other end of the spectrum a buyer in a major supermarket may only buy for one small set of categories, but those categories will deliver significant revenues and require considerable management. So when you make contact with them, you want to make it count.
 
1.   Timing is Everything
Send samples at the time of year the buyer is reviewing products in your category; your chances of successfully being considered are many times greater than for a sample sent six months before a review date. Of course, the challenge is finding out when these dates are; you can make an educated guess for Christmas or Easter, but the dates for year-round products are much harder to figure out. However, our unique product discovery platform Product Guru (www.productguru.co.uk) provides access to these key dates.
 
2.   How to pitch your product?
Whichever way you choose to put your products in front of buyers, you need to convince them why your products should make their range:
 
·     Shout about your USP’s. Why are your products going to enhance their range? If your product has unique or functional qualities, highlight them.
·     Where possible give buyers proof that your product is worthy of the space. Use market data where you have it. Fastest growing brand in a sector? Tested in 10 stores of a chain and rolled out to 100 two months later? Get this front and centre.
·     Convince them why your lines will drive incremental sales. Buyers don’t care whether they sell your product or someone else’s, so there is little motivation to swap sales of a current product for yours.
·     Offer realistic, attractive commercial terms. Keep it as simple as possible. Keep it as favourable to the customer as possible.
 
3.   Know who you are talking to
Do your homework.
Know the buyer, what is working for them and what they are looking for. Obviously, that is more practical for larger retailers than smaller ones, so for independents you might choose to focus more on the market and your category in general, so you can tell them why they should choose you.  
 
4.   Next Steps
Ensure when you do make contact with a buyer that you have a plan for what the next steps will be. They may tell you what they want next anyway, but if not then you should have suggestions yourself. If it is email contact, offer them samples. If it is a call, offer to meet with them to present your line. Just make sure there is a progressive next step.
 
5.   Product Guru
What works best? A mix of everything, and some trial and error and with perseverance you will get somewhere. Or, utilise Product Guru.
 
Product Guru tackles most of the challenges above. It puts your product in front of all relevant buyers, at the time of year they are looking at products in your category. It lets them review your products in their own time, and allows them to follow up with samples or requests for further information when they can actually act on it.
 
It is significantly more cost effective than a scattergun approach using samples and cold calling, and puts your products in front of buyers across the retail sector.
 
Whichever option you choose, keep it focused, relevant and good luck!

Learn more about how Product Guru allows you to put your products in front of retail buyers for free.