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3 Fatal Mistakes to Avoid When Meeting with a Retail Buyer

business retailer Mar 07, 2021
written by Josanta Gray Emegano

Launching with a major retailer is a huge accomplishment for any brand. Even if your brand is digital in nature, chances are you have aspirations to see your products on the shelves of your favorite stores. The task of landing a meeting with a big retailer may seem daunting. However, it could become one of the most lucrative meetings you’ll ever have.

Buyers and their processes will vary by retailer. However, after having countless retail buyer meetings around the globe, I’ve put together a list of these fatal mistakes you should avoid during your upcoming meeting with a retail buyer.

1. Don’t forget to do your homework.

Buyers hate when you don’t do your homework before a meeting because it shows! This seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t actually visit the stores prior to their pitch meeting. Doing a store visit will allow you to familiarize yourself with how the retailer merchandises products and brands in your category. How is everything positioned on the shelf? Do my products physical fit well on the shelf? Were there any endcap displays that caught your eye? How are the products similar to mine priced? When you asked the sales rep a question, did they offer only one brand as a solution? Doing a store visit will allow you to speak with the buyer from a place of authority. It will also show you exactly how brands similar to yours are treated (for better or worse) in their stores. You should use this store visit as an opportunity to identify any whitespace or areas of improvement that your brand can provide during the meeting. Preparation before meeting with a buyer is crucial and my How to Pitch A Retailer course will guide you through the process.

2. Don’t overwhelm the buyer.

A retail buyer has limited time, shelf space, and bandwidth. Keep in mind they are reviewing hundreds of brands at any given moment. Therefore, you have to find ways to stand out from the rest. One of those ways is to make sure your pitch is clear and concise. Don’t overwhelm the buyer by showing all of your products at once. Create a story by highlighting one product at a time, starting with your bestseller. You need to walk the buyer though exactly which product they should buy and why. Buyers appreciate this because it creates an organized and effective meeting. If you offer about 10 different product categories within your brand, I highly recommend focusing in on 2 – 3 bestsellers per category to organize the meeting.

3. Don’t make assumptions.

Unfortunately, some brand founders make a lot of assumptions when it comes to working with a retailer. They will assume they will launch in all of the retailer’s stores and they will immediately be rich. Or, they assume their brand will be featured in all of the retailer’s marketing materials. This may be true for some brands. But, more often than not, these are not guaranteed. Digital and in-store marketing is not always guaranteed by a retailer. Depending on the retailer, you may have to pay for these features. The costs to participate and keep yourself afloat can add up quickly. Therefore, if you’re given the greenlight make sure you address this with your buyer at the beginning of your relationship. Ask how many doors do they foresee your brand launching in? What is their protocol for featuring new brands in their marketing materials? What are the costs that you should be factoring in? These types of questions will let the buyer know you’re serious about working with them and that you have the ability to plan ahead.

Photo from George Milton on Pexels.

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