Working with buyers doesn’t have to be difficult. If you approach their business as you would your own you’ve got a pretty high chance for success! That said, so many small businesses make doing business difficult and that results in low sales and inconsistent retail relationships. I sat down with some of my favorite buyers and talked to them about the quickest way to get on their bad side and made a list of their biggest pet peeves to share with you! If you’re guilty of any of these points I suggest making some changes ASAP!
You push products for the benefit of the sale
Buyers KNOW when you’re just trying to make a buck and when you’re truly invested in their business. The BEST way to prove you’re in it for the long haul? Tell them what NOT to buy. If they’re eyeing a line and you know for a fact over the counter sales have been poor tell them, and point them in a different direction. They may order the item anyway for their own reasons but if it doesn’t perform to their expectations they won’t hold it against you. (and they'll probably listen to your suggestions next time!)
You are difficult to communicate with
I understand how hectic running a business can be. Keep in mind as busy as you may be, buyers are in the same boat! If you make placing an order with you difficult they are going to go elsewhere. They may be trying to get you on the phone and you only communicate via email, you may travel often, you may be overloaded with work. None of these are a reason to neglect your buyers. If you want their business make them a priority!
You don’t know your line
If you’re selling jewelry, be prepared to answer questions about metal content. If your product is stationery you should know how many pages are in your notepads. If you work in textiles, be able to speak to the fiber content of your products. Know your MSRP and wholesale pricing. Buyers expect you to be the expert when it comes to your products. If you can’t answer these types of questions chances are they will be very underwhelmed by the experience of working with you.
You don’t prepare for their appointment
Buyers, regardless of the size of the store they are buying for, deserve your undivided attention. They know pretty quickly when you don’t prepare for the meeting and that says you don’t care about their business. Keep a file, take lots of notes, and cater the appointment to their business. If you’re a stationer and are meeting with a store based in Florida present the prints that you think will be the best sellers for their region first (like palm trees and pineapples) They’ll be impressed if you make a suggestion based on what you know about their business.
You don’t make it easy to write an order
This probably could fall under not preparing for your appointment but because orders aren’t always written face to face I felt it deserved its own category. Going back to buyers being busy, when they carve out time to write their orders make it easy for them! This means a line sheet with style numbers, packing information by style, pricing and dates the items are available to ship. If they have to spend time searching for this information you can bet it will impact your bottom line. Want to seriously impress a buyer you’ve been working with? Try writing the order for them and review the reasoning behind each sku and units that you placed. I’ve had so many buyers take the order and sign off on it in that moment! Sometimes, they’ll take it back and make a few adjustments, but by you doing the bulk of the work up front you’ve made it super easy which they will appreciate and not forget.
It’s a one-sided partnership
If your goods are shipping late and your buyer grants you an extension it’s a big win. If they come to you a few months later looking for something (a discount, to cancel an item or order etc) remember how they did you a solid and reciprocate in some way. This doesn’t mean anything goes, each request should be handled on a case by case basis. You want to show them that you're in it for the long haul. By proving that you’re willing to work with them you’ll earn their respect and move to the top of their retail partnership list.
You constantly ship late
Things happen that sometimes results in delayed goods. If this becomes your pattern stores are going to stop doing business with you. If it’s related to your supplier start looking elsewhere or pad yourself with your delivery dates. Buyers are tying up dollars with you that can be spent elsewhere. Consider how frustrated you would be of they constantly canceled orders at the last minute.