Suppliers – How Retailers Look at New Suppliers

Recently a client asked me a very good question about how retailers look at businesses when they are considering buying your product.

Below is a snippet of the conversation.



Client Question: What kind of information do I need to give retailers so that they’re assured that I’ll be a good supplier to buy from?  Is it info about where I’m manufacturing? Things like that?

Me:         You’re going to have to give everyone country of origin because it’s a legal standard. As far as the factories, some retailers like QVC and Wal-Mart may want to do a factory inspection.

When it comes to, “are you going to be a good vendor?” one criteria is how responsive you are. The vendor paperwork that’s filled out after they say yes we like your product is really long. It’s ridiculously long because it’s the vendor item setup forms, all the information about your product, the SKU #s, case pack quantities and UPC codes, thumbnail image, etc. Then there’s the new vendor setup form which is separate than the item forms.

Many retailers will ask what % of your business they would be?  It’s dangerous if their account is your only one.

They want to make sure your vendor paperwork is getting filled out properly and that you understand vendor paperwork. So your sales rep will hopefully be able to help you with that. We work with that with clients. There are a lot of different pieces. It has to do also with an invisible confidence, which might sound a little strange but there’s a confidence that comes with you and your sales reps knowing that you can deliver and that you’re offer to them is good.

That is different and comes across. It has to do with how your paperwork gets submitted, the PowerPoints and how they were created, as well as what they look like, because if it looks like you know the drill and you know what information they need to make decisions than it presents you as savvy. It’s when the item comes across without the needed information that you get branded as small time. Things like correct pricing, how many should be in each store or any sort of plan-o-gram image if that’s needed.

Meaning, you have to show the layout of the product in the store. Maybe there’s no display work when there really should be. Those kinds of things make a big difference in presenting you and your business in a really good light.

For example, Wal-Mart, won’t even really look if the product isn’t done and done well. When I say the product is done, I mean the packaging is right, if you’re going to show them a display that there’s a display that makes sense and that the information is correct. They aren’t interested in investing their time, particularly in developing a product. So that’s part of how they know you are ready to do business with them.

And, if you have a particular need for a timeline on your first order and you tell them it’s going to take 120 days. Then they say “that won’t work for us. We need 60 days.” And you come back and say you can do it in 30 days, they aren’t going to be confident in your answer, because you did something crazy in the timeline area. So if they were to come back and say we need 60 days and you’re at 120 or 90, 90 to 60 would workable, 120 to 60 you should be saying along the lines of, “I’d be happy to look to see if we can move something in production for you.”

As opposed to saying, “yes we can meet that” because then it’s like “oh you padded that. So….. what else did you pad?”

Client:    I understand.

Me:         So it’s how you answer the questions and how the meeting gets handled. Then, if you’re going to offer a guarantee or not it doesn’t really matter. They’ll tell you if they need you to do one. In regards to your vendor paperwork, some buyers are more understanding of a lot of questions, others don’t want you to have to ask them anything. They just want to buy your product and move it.

Your vendor paperwork is very important and they’ll send vendor paperwork even if you’re going to do online sales only, like They’re still going to need item and vendor setups. Sometimes retail stores will use their websites to test your product before they take it in for a store order. That way they can see how great you were to work with for online and it lets them test how great you’ll be to work with for in-store.

Client:    That makes sense. That’s a good entry for me anyway.

Me:         Yes, especially for what you’re doing it makes sense. Those are the signals they’ll be watching for: how you answer the questions, the timeliness of paperwork and whether it’s complete and sometimes it will be who your sales rep is and who made the introduction. It makes a difference. If they know you have good people around you that makes a huge difference, because it’s reputation.

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