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The Power of Relationships

The Power of Relationships

As much as we’d all like to think that the world is a rational place with decisions based on whatever pops out of a spreadsheet, human relationships still matter – a lot.

We all want to do business with people we like. But in the world of alternative retail channels, it sometimes can be very transactional – a quick email exchange with some numbers. Most of the time that’s OK, but what happens when you have 10,000 cases of short-dated Squiggle O’s and their cereal shelves are full? A personal relationship may be the difference between a “no thanks” and “sure, I’ll help you out.”

Buyers aren’t looking for a new BFF, but building and maintaining relationships is still a critical part of ensuring you can get a fair price for excess inventory. Here are some ideas on how to build relationships with alternative retail channel buyers:

Stay in Touch
The most important thing is to reach out from time-to-time with information of value to them. Sometimes called content marketing, it’s about keeping a pulse. Did you just read an industry study about the rise in popularity of circle-shaped food? Send it on.

Know Their Market
Spend some time in their stores, see the product selection, code dating and pricing. Which products are selling and which aren’t. The more you know about their market, the more you know about what they need.

Know Their Pricing & Merchandising Constraints
If major brands are selling for $1.49, then don’t try to sell them the Squiggle O’s at $2.00. Trying to sell a 12 pack into a 99 cent store? Not going to happen unless you are really, really, really motivated.

Know What They Need Now
If you spend enough time in enough different stores, you can get a sense for the hot products and the ones that are moving pretty slowly. Nothing makes a professional buyer more irritable than someone trying to sell them more of a category that’s turned out to be a stinker for them.

Be Seasonally-Appropriate
Don’t be the 20th seller of coconut water this week when it’s -20F outside.

Sure, some of this may be a bit too much if you just have some extra inventory every year or two. But if you find yourself more frequently in need of an alternative channel for your product, a bit of investment in understanding the world of your customer can really pay off.