Why give advice to your Vendors, or any Vendors for that matter?
Another post in the “Kenny Vannucci – Understanding Consumer Packaged Goods in a Retail Environment Series”.
Just kidding!! I am egotistical; but not that bad…..yet. Still a work in progress!
This is the 3rd or 4th post I am writing that I am hoping will give you an insight into the retail world from a buyers perspective. As usual, higher level (I need to stay employed so too much info and I will be asking readers for work!), with the intent of giving a little insight into an area that many don’t understand and that most don’t share or talk about.
As usual; the story…..
I had 2 appointments today with 2 different sized Vendors. One was a very large multi-national and the other a smaller local’ish vendor. These were product presentations. Vendors hoping to get into the stores of London Drugs.
Each of the Vendors had products that sounded pretty cool and looked pretty cool. They could have potential in the Canadian market for sure, and could have had potential in our stores. No doubt.
We had pretty lengthy discussions together, and I explained what I thought were the pros and cons in the packaging and marketing proposals. They pitched their wares and I listened. We bantered a bit. Overall, there were more positives than negatives. I had two pretty good meetings and all parties left feeling pretty good.
However, at the end of the meetings, I listed neither Vendor’s product for the stores.
I just finished telling you that both had potential and that both could do ok. We had good meetings and the Vendors and I were not upset after our meetings.
One of the main reasons; they were not much different than the products that were already on the shelves in our stores. Just another OTC (Over the Counter) and just another Food item. Ok; maybe not “just another” as we have many (many, many, many) “just another” products on our shelves (not just us – too much selection and choice in Canadian retail in general), however, these just did not have enough “oomph” to grow any of the categories that they were going to play in. They would have done ok, but at the expense of other products with no real gain to us (the retailer) nor to the consumer; as there is already enough selection out there and enough confusion.
Another, the marketing strategies were not well thought out. Both “kinda” knew who they were going after but did not do a convincing job in communicating that. They were not telling me anything new or different and were not even telling me anything old in any convincing manner. They thought that a decent package and a good product is all that was needed. Make sense? You would think that should be all that is needed, but sometimes it’s the other intangibles that kill you. We wont get into that in this post – check out….
The point of this post is more to do with information sharing.
Why tell the Vendor anything? Why spend anytime with them if I knew from the get go that these items would be not listed? Why help? What do I care if the products make it or not? I may never list them anyway. And why would both sides be “ok” after meetings that brought about no new business to either side?
For selfish reasons; I like to help; provide ideas, provide constructive input, and I like the banter. It keeps me interested in my job and always thinking and looking at products from many different angles. This hopefully translates into better product selection for our consumers.
For London Drugs, hopefully it keeps me from making too many mistakes (good luck on that one!) when choosing products to sell.
For the Vendor, it gives them an outside opinion that they may be able to use (if they take the advice or want to take the advice or opinion), to make changes to packages, marketing plans etc…if need be, before they get too far into manufacturing, packaging and or media commitments. The Vendor may pull back, reorganize and then pitch again with hopefully better success in listings and sales.
The advice and opinions that can be given by retailers can save vendors and retailers a boat load of money that would have been potentially poorly spent.
For the consumer; it may stop another product hitting the shelves that won’t deliver anymore than any of the products already out there now. Nothing like avoiding disappointment!
The more honesty that a retailer can provide to a vendor, with respect to their knowledge of the consumer, their knowledge of packaging and marketing, and with respect to experiences with other, similar products, that may have already failed; all go to building better and stronger business and personal relationships with the Vendors and Consumers that will go on for years. The potential future (more times than not – guaranteed) dividends to the retailer, the vendor, and really and truly; to the consumer in the end, can be immeasurable.
Vendors are not the enemy. They are not the retailer’s adversary. They are (I hate saying this as it sooooooooo over used) the “partner” to the retailer. Helping the Vendor is good for everyone. Whether the retailer ultimately carries the product or not is not the issue.
Take the time as a retailer to help. Take the time as a Vendor to ask for advice and suggestions and be open to the critiques. If you cannot or choose not to do this as a “team”, you are both going to lose and more importantly; the consumer will lose!
Helping is good for everyone! Everyone wins!
I hope that helped 😉
Ciao for now @kootenayborn