Need to capture a buyer’s attention? Breakthrough with data

by | Aug 16, 2016

Vendors know that buyers are busy people. They’re buying thousands of products for a single store or focusing on one department across a regional or national chain of stores. And, unfortunately, they don’t have a lot of time to converse with individual vendors, especially those who fall in their second or third tier according to sales volume.

If a vendor wants to catch a buyer’s attention and boost sales, the best way is to provide actionable, fact-based recommendations.

As a previous buyer and planner at a nationwide retailer, my vendors would often provide me with anecdotal feedback such as “my niece said everyone in her school is wearing purple this year” or “I read in a fashion magazine that plaid is making a comeback this fall.” While interesting, this didn’t capture my attention for long and had little impact on my buying decisions.

Instead, I partnered with vendors who used data and fact based insights. An analytics-backed report showing that purple and plaid items were outselling every other SKU during the last two weeks was more convincing and I was more likely to modify my orders to address this demand. My most successful vendor partnerships were formed when discussions were data-driven.

Be more agile with analytics

Consumers are buying products online and on devices at any time, meaning trends can appear without warning and the more agile retailers capture more than their share of new trends and sales. Vendors that keep a pulse on the sell-through of their items are true partners of any buyer.

Buyers keep a close eye on their top sellers, as well as their worst performing products. If a vendor’s products are in the middle, they likely aren’t on the buyer’s daily radar. If the sales data on these “middle styles” indicates a product is trending up or down, the buyer may miss it. Thus, retailers rely on vendors to alert them to possible opportunities and back up their suggestions with analytics.

Additionally, many retailers are running very lean on inventory. To avoid items reaching a stock out situation, vendors need to monitor sell-through and alert buyers when the data shows that store or warehouse quantities are running low. They can also use the sell-through data to alert manufacturing when inventories are running low and new orders are likely.

Data forewarns of dying trends

The best buyers identify issues or trends, then react quickly and decisively to these changes. They look at the sales data to spot trends and patterns to give them an idea of what may be on the horizon.

In my former buying and planning roles, early identification of trends was key to a successful season (or a poor performing one). I saw many instances, especially on seasonal products, where buyers did not react soon enough to trends. This caused either missed sales opportunities or instances where buyers were left with a lot of unprofitable product at the end of a season, both of which resulted in unsuccessful seasons.

Tips for capturing a buyer’s attention

In many instances, retail buyers don’t pay as much attention to tier two vendors as their tier one vendors. But if the tier two vendor provides more value than just a new product, they’ll find ways to increase profit, get noticed and potentially turn into a tier one vendor. Following are some industry best practices and methods to help vendors wanting to standout. They seem intuitive, but many buyers and vendors don’t always take the time to focus on a few of these simple steps that can really impact their relationship and their results:

  1. Schedule monthly or quarterly meetings. Have an upfront agenda.
  2. Bring actionable recommendations specific to the retailer’s business.
  3. Demonstrate your knowledge of the market and your products. You can add value by digging into certain markets, certain products, or even a color story to identify certain trends.
  4. Forecast out and find new opportunities in the next iteration of your products — color, size, store level, product mix, etc. — backed up with analytics.
  5. Communicate with data, showing the impact of past trends, including what worked in other markets or stores, and their relevance to future trends.
  6. Show where the buyer can capitalize on new opportunities to increase sales across individual or multiple channels.

Follow these steps and you’ll become someone they want to partner with frequently.

Anecdotes can be a good clue for upcoming trends, but data is the hard proof retailers and vendors need to make a profitable decision. Become a more valuable trading partner with POS Analytics from SPS Commerce.

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Wendy Glassner

Wendy Glassner

Strategic Sales Engineer at SPS Commerce
Wendy Glassner is a Strategic Sales Engineer for the SPS Commerce. She provides insights on how our customers can utilize our POS product to maximize their business.She works closely with our Sales and Product teams to communicate needs from the customer standpoint.
Wendy Glassner

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