Meeting Retail Buyers

So, you’ve spent time creating your dream product, sent out samples and now you have a meeting with a retail buyer lined up. This might seem daunting, but it could work out to be one of the most lucrative meetings you will ever have. The way buyers work is unique to each retailer, however there are some priceless tips that should help you prepare for your meeting and which will be transferable into many different territories and countless retailers. Below are my top 10 which I have put together after having countless meetings with some of the biggest retailers in the world.

  1. Of course as with any meeting, preparation is key. However, when meeting with a retail buyer if you don’t prepare you run the risk of wasting the buyers valuable time and likely causing confusion.  Ensure you have all your samples and ideally some to leave with the buyer. Basic price lists and if possible, a spreadsheet that is easily amendable so you can make decisions quickly regarding margins.
  2. Another part of preparing is going armed with a great presentation. What this should include completely depends on how far along you are with your product/brand. Some important information I am always sure to include is a bit of company background, customer demographic, marketing, and of course all the product information the buyer might need.
  3. A buyer’s time is like gold dust. Many buyers will have back to back meetings throughout the day. Therefore, if you turn up late, not only is it unprofessional but you will likely have to finish early and that may result in you not getting across all the info you needed too. My motto is that being early is on time, being on time is late!
  4. Do your homework and research all the retailer’s current lines and be prepared to answer the question “why would my customer pick up your product over the others on my shelf?” If it’s a one of a kind, then this shouldn’t be a tough one for you. However, if it is like a product, they already stock many variants of then you’ll need to have a good answer.
  5. Marketing support is something that will likely be expected for most retailers. If possible, you should have a marketing campaign/plan in place before you have a meeting with a retail buyer. This doesn’t have to cost the earth but it’s certainly something you should allocate a fair bit of budget too. Again, the way each retailer likes to see marketing done is very different. Some retailers will want to see solus tagging which means you will be pushing people into their stores but on the other hand, some retailers just like to see that you have a plan.
  6. A very important but sometimes overlooked part of getting into retail is making sure your product physically fits well in the store. Ask yourself – Can it fit on shelf without over spilling or looking like it is too tall? Shelf space is absolutely gold for retailers – the more they can fit on shelf the more they can sell and therefore the easier your product(s) are for them to planogram the happier the buyer! If your product doesn’t fit on a shelf you may need to look at doing a bespoke size for said retailer.
  7. Following on from the above, another really important point when even just starting to investigate going into retail is to make sure your packaging works well on shelf and doesn’t get lost amongst all the other products. Part of this is also ensuring your packaging makes it obvious as to what the product is and what it is for. Here’s a great website to get some more tips on packaging for retail. It is widely known that the average human attention span is just 8 seconds, so you need to ensure your packaging is eye catching enough for a customer to stop and have a closer look. Once you’ve got your product in a consumer’s hand you are half the way there to make a sale!
  8. When meeting with a retail buyer you should also go into the meeting with the assumption that the buyer will want more margin than you are willing to give. If this happens there are a few things you can do. The simplest is seeing if you can work with them on the number of units, they are willing to buy initially. If this doesn’t work don’t just walk away, there are lots of other routes you can do down such as seeing if you can price engineer a pack size to suit their needs.
  9. Check your RRP and make sure it fits in the retail space. If you’ve previously only sold online, you may need to be realistic and amend your price points depending on what else the retailer stocks. Ensure you are also aware of the retailer’s promo expectations. Some retailers will have a mix of promotions that are compulsory and others that they’d like you to be part of. On the other hand, some retails operate an EDLP basis and don’t look to run too many promotions. The best way to discuss promotions with your buyer is to build out a JBP (Joint Business Plan) That way you can look at how many you can fund, and which ones suit your budget. Some retailers also have fees for certain things, this can be anything from a listing fee to the space you get when on promotion. These fees really differ between retailers so it’s always best to go through each one with a fine-tooth comb.  Depending on listing fee’s etc, sometimes you need to understand that not all retailers will suit your budget and some you will need to just walk away from (even if they want your product)!
  10. A quick and easy one …. Don’t give up!

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