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Creating an unforgettable experience for your retailers Part 2

How to Pitch the Retail Buyer and Get on the Shelf


Grocery clerk shaking hands with owner or client
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The margin that they will make through selling your product and through any additional customer investment, such as promotional or marketing activity

You need to do the numbers and calculate exactly how stocking your products will make your customers better off. And make sure that if you’re not increasing the retailer’s overall margin, you have a really good reason why.

A good place to start is to create a profit and loss statement either by customer or by customer channel that clearly identifies your sales assumptions (margin maintenance levels, redemption, promotional uplifts and marketing investment to activate your unique ideas). This will mean you end up with an annual financial plan.


Aim to increase retailer’s percentage margin or, at least, increase their overall cash sales. And when setting your financial stall, make sure that you leave lots of room to negotiate. Retailers will expect not only to make money from selling your products but they’ll also want investment for adverts, point of sale, listing and promotional fees and anything else they can think of to make you pay for.

If you’re struggling to meet margin expectations, then make sure that you are able to justify your plans. Typically, this justification will come in the guise of a strong story about how unique your brand is, or how your products can attract a new type of shopper to a retailer.

If you’re not much of a storyteller, then you could pursue an exclusivity path or make your proposition so compelling to a retailer’s shopper that they’ll want to shop their more frequently. Alternatively you could demonstrate how you’ll overinvest to attract shoppers to the retailer.

That you’re easy to do business with

Improving your customers’ margin is definitely one way to make it easy to do business with you. But there are lots of other things you’ll need to demonstrate when creating your plan.

As I’ve already mentioned, a simple understanding of their business is critical. Demonstrate your service levels, show that you’re easy to get hold of and provide quick, clear and correct information when needed. Businesses get bogged down when new product or promotional forms are incorrect or have data missing, so make sure your forms are spot on and you don’t create lots of hassle for your customers.

That there is proof of expected performance

When selling in a new product or range, retailers will be naturally sceptical. Everyone who pitches to them says that their brand is the next big thing, but with 90% of all new products failing within the first year of launch, most of them are wrong. So you need to make the retailer believe in your plans.

Show the retailer evidence in the form of independent case studies, data from other sales channels, consumer panels, sampling or evidence from overseas markets. The more relevant the information you can share, the better.

And finally

Consider how to surprise your customers and remember that buyers and busy shop owners don’t have time to see every supplier that walks through the door. Make sure you stand out.

I’d like to leave you with this thought. On average, it is seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to maintain business with an existing one. So, if you’ve already invested buckets of blood, sweat and tears securing customers, don’t neglect them by looking for new ones.


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