Bentonville Here You Come!

March 20, 2015By Behind the Shelf Blog, Brand Marketing, Buyer Presentations blog series

by Dave Wendland

The appointment has been made. Your bags are packed. Prototype products are pristinely mounted on their display board. A professionally-produced video of the company history and founders is cued up on the laptop. And a twenty-slide PowerPoint® containing testimonials from family and friends who have tested and used the product for the past year has been prepared.

What can possibly go wrong? Everything!

Perhaps the teams in Bentonville, Deerfield, Woonsocket, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Carrolton, or any other category buying office will be cordial enough to listen to your spiel, but chances are they won’t be interested in bringing your product onto their shelves. Realize this may literally be your only opportunity to secure product acceptance during this review cycle – which generally occurs only once a year.category buying office

Realistically, the teams will be quite impatient and offer you little support or encouragement. With the hundreds of product manufacturers just like you vying for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you can bet that some other company is better organized, has their pitch better prepared, and has more effectively done their homework.

How can you be that company? Although there are no guarantees, here are five steps to consider when planning for the moment of truth with the buyer.

  1. Tell them about the opportunity in the market that you are satisfying. Be specific, fact-based, and confident.
  2. Demonstrate the unique features and benefits of your product. Compare it to what is currently on the shelf and why more shoppers will favor your innovation.
  3. Show them specifically where it could be placed on the shelf and how to drive incremental sales and generate additional profit for the category.
  4. Reveal how you will drive traffic to their retail stores and create demand.
  5. Share information about your manufacturing capacity and how you can keep up with their order rate.

Preparing well, managing expectations, and constructively collaborating with your new retail partner is a much more effective path to success than setting unrealistic goals combined with inadequate planning. Best of luck.

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