Merchants understand that the learning curve can be steep for brands scaling up to big box retail. As a vendor, one of the best ways to gain their confidence is to come into your partnership having done your homework.
Whether you're prepping for a launch or evaluating your retail strategy for the coming year, it’s important to consider your merchant’s perspective. Here are a few fundamental areas of expertise they look for in vendors. Start preparing now, and you’ll win big in your next merchant meeting.
1. Know your end user and category.
Your merchant is counting on you to be an authority on how your consumer shops within your category. It’s not enough, however, to simply recite facts and projections.
Look for ways that your internal consumer research can help bring success to your retailer. For example, if your products are marketed towards Pros, consider how stocking your goods would help your retailer capture more Pro shoppers.
The learnings that have helped you develop your products and internal brand campaigns can reveal important insights into consumer behavior. Get down to the why behind those purchasing decisions to identify what drives those choices and what may cause shoppers to choose one retailer over another. Demonstrate to your retailer that you can help them convince consumers to cross the street, and you’ll become a valued partner.
2. Know the language.
Retail has a language all its own, but taking the time to develop this acumen independently will help foster good communication between you and your merchant. Not only is it easier to carry on a conversation if they don’t have to pause for explanations, but familiarizing yourself with a particular retailer’s lingo shows a high level of commitment.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. A sales and marketing partner can help you learn the language as well as any important logistics that may be specific to your merchant, such as how program dollars are broken down, what will be expected of your marketing, and how you should invest in your program.
3. Know your merchant’s goals.
Lasting retail partnerships happen when your goals align with your merchant’s. Everyone wants growth and sales, but don’t be afraid to get specific. For your merchant, the coming year may be all about a difficult comp. It could be about margin dollars.
In order to tailor your program to these objectives, you have to know what they are – and the best way is to ask. Future goals are by no means a secret; merchants almost certainly have them in the front of their minds. Once you’ve ascertained this information, frame your offerings in these terms so you can be part of the solution.
Remember that, while your pitch is a chance to explain the value of your products, it’s not all about you. Merchants want to hear about the mutual benefits of stocking your brand. Position yourself as a partner, and you’ll win not only shelf space, but trust.