The importance of understanding the buyer’s perspective

It can sometimes feel that buyers just say no for the sake of it; wanting to be difficult to bleed you dry of more margin. But it is important to remember that buyers, like you, have a job to do as well. They too need to hit their targets. Though surprisingly to some, it is not solely about buying cheap and selling more.

Buyers have many variables and targets that they need to consider. Winning market share over their competitors may be an obvious one, yet many suppliers are unaware of this factor when selling in new lines; instead they often offer the same product to all their customers. How is that going to help them to win in the marketplace?

The solutions don’t have to be a unique product. Having a different format size can tick a box but can be expensive in production. Having a unique outer pack, or unique promotion can help with a buyer’s targets. It goes without saying, tailoring the promotion to the target audience will drive sales – think about tailored consumer or shopper insights, ones that are directly related to the goals your customer has.

Some of the less obvious challenges a buyer needs to tackle include inventory management and product mix. Suppliers are all too quick to offer new lines, without fully appreciating that perhaps the customer already has a warehouse full of stock or are already exceeding their quota of product lines. Buyers also need to ensure they have the right product mix within their category. Too many of the same type of products limits consumer engagement: range is key. Aisles also need to look welcoming with products faced properly and with products that are easy to merchandise, easy to navigate and therefore easy to shop.  How often have you walked down an aisle to see merchandising staff fighting with an outer box that doesn’t fit on shelf, or doesn’t display the product clearly?

Ultimately you need to help your buyers hit their overall category strategy and targets. Have you ever asked what they are? Establish a two-way conversation, understand their needs and then help address them. With major grocery buyers, for example, seeing around 50 suppliers a week you need to stand out from the crowd and be seen as a help not a hinderance. How can you make their job easier? How you can make the meetings you have productive – not just a data download.  Make supplying seamless, tick the buyer’s boxes. If you understand their needs and build a relationship you will do less negotiating and more selling. Knowing their needs, means the balance of power is with you and you can meet their requirements.

At Pure Blue Ocean we have partnered with ShopX to aid organisations in understanding the buyers needs through a retail simulation game. This learning experience is designed to put you in the shoes of the retailer, understand the decisions that need to be made, and the impact they make. It is a team immersion game, played over 2 days, to drive teamwork in a challenging but safe atmosphere. Check the video below to see how it works...

If you want to understand more about the buyer’s perspective and ShopX, contact us at
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