Updated on July 21, 2011
Large national retailers like Wal-Mart, Target or Macys have set practices and it is the job of the supplier to fit into their practices. This can be anything from receiving orders via EDI to building items into their system via 1 SYNC. Besides fitting their business practices, you also need to fit into their product screen. This comes from knowing who the retailer’s core customer is and knowing their current product offering. Researching the retailers core customer and their current product offering is as easy as visiting their website. (NOTE: Many retailers have a different product offering on their website than they do in-store.)
Are you offering something similar to another product they already carry or are you offering something brand new?
If you are offering something similar to a product they already have then how are you differentiated? You can differentiate yourself on price, quality, brand, or even your supply ability. We will cover each one of these points of differentiation in a later section. If you are offering something completely different than what the retailer is currently selling, then you need to understand how it fits them. The easiest way to fit your product to the retailer is by selling it as a basket builder (add-on sales to customers already shopping the store).
If they already sell Hawaiian shirts and you sell Hawaiian belts, that could be a great complement to their current assortment.
If they do not currently sell anything similar to your product then it can be very challenging. Two ways to get around those challenges are by offering Buy Back programs (the supplier buys back the inventory after a certain time period) or by offering Scan Based Trading (you put the inventory in the store and are only paid when the item sells).
There are numerous ways to fit into a product screen and it is your job to be creative and find your niche. Knowing your customer is the key to selling your product.
Updated on July 11, 2011
Large retailers can be difficult to work with, but with some careful planning and hard work, it can be possible and very rewarding. Merchandise Buyers are constantly meeting with potential suppliers and you need to know the answers to the questions they will ask you. In this series we will cover the questions you will be asked by Merchandise Buyers and ensure that you are prepared. The core questions you need to be prepared for are:
• Who is your core customer?
• Who are your competitors
o Does the retailer already sell your competitors product?
• What differentiates your product and is it an easy story to tell the consumer?
• What supply support do you provide
o Guaranteed fill rate? Buyback program? Backend subsidy?
• What is the cost and what is the average selling price in the market?
• MOST IMPORTANT: WHAT IS THE BUYER’s MARGIN?
In this series we will cover everything you need to know to sell your product. Check back regularly for this and all of our informative series. Also look at Merchant News to see what’s happening around the industry.