Win Your Retail Merchant’s Trust (And Your Product Line Review)

Your Product Line Review (PLR) is about more than demonstrating how well your brand solves consumer problems. To make a compelling case for why your products deserve space on your big box retailer’s shelves, you need to roadmap a mutually beneficial partnership.

A successful PLR requires your brand to gather deep insights into your end users and product category. Fortunately for you, the research that you conduct in preparation for your PLR is often just as valuable to your merchant as it is to you. Position yourself as a source of expertise, and your brand will have value that extends well beyond your SKUs.

Here are four ways to use your category and industry insights to not only win your PLR, but cement a trust-based relationship with your merchant along the way.

1. Ask the Merchant to Walk the Store with You

One of the toughest challenges of walking into a PLR is often the lack of a prior connection with the merchant. If the merchant will take the time to walk the store with you, you can get to know them on a personal level while still keeping things professional.

No matter how well-established the retailer may be, the decision-makers are fellow humans. People enjoy speaking about their own experiences – ask good questions and take what you learn into consideration when approaching your PLR.

Use your time on the store floor to find out what is working for them at that moment, and don’t be afraid to pepper your conversation with the research you’ve done to make it clear that you fully understand the retailer, the industry and the category.

2. Understand the Merchant’s Challenges and Become Familiar with Their Previous Success Stories

Know your merchant’s history before walking into the PLR. Whether they’re a new player or a long-established institution, they have a backstory that you can use to promote a relationship.

Look into the challenges they’ve faced over the years, and learn what it took for them to overcome them. Talk about some of their biggest successes throughout their tenure as a retailer— where does your product fit into this list of winners? By understanding everything that brought the retailer to where they are today, you can more easily position your business as a part of their future success.

It’s not enough, however, to simply flatter the merchant with your knowledge of company history. Make sure that you conclude with actionable solutions and recommendations that are rooted in data.


3. Familiarize Yourself with Programs and Tools That Work Well for Your Merchant’s Category Management

Every category is different, so uncover the key metrics that are most important to the merchant with whom you’re meeting. What factors are most pertinent to them?

Abandon the one-size-fits-all approach. This is your moment to show the merchant that your product and business are perfectly positioned to succeed in their stores, so display that potential on their terms.

If you can demonstrate to the retailer that a relationship with you will be mutually beneficial based on their key metrics, you’ve set the stage for a win-win partnership.


4. Show off your consumer insights

There should be two heroes in every Product Line Review, and it’s on you to make that clear.

The first hero is the merchant. Use your market research to talk about the successes the retailer has had in the past to establish what makes them a category leader. Then, find out what category success looks like for them in the future, and show them that your brand is the hero they’ve been waiting for – both for their business and for the consumer.

The work that you’ve done to build your brand has yielded unique insights into your product category as a whole. Impress your merchant with your learnings about end user behaviors, pain points and price sensitivity, and you will immediately distinguish your brand from the others competing for shelf space.

In the increasingly competitive home retail space, a lasting relationship with your merchant is about more than a great product. It’s also about great communication and great data. Get expert help preparing for your upcoming PLR, and gain the tools you need to cement a trust-based relationship with your merchant.