Making retail connections with professionalism - The Packer

Making retail connections with professionalism

08/16/2013 11:47:00 AM
Anthony Barbieri

Anthony Barbieri, Produce Marketing AssociationAnthony Barbieri, Produce Marketing AssociationRetailers can have it tough. Like celebrities followed by the media, buyers at industry events bringing together the entire produce supply chain often find themselves in the spotlight with many suppliers competing for their attention.

All that focus can be uncomfortable, which I’m sure is not suppliers’ intention. Suppliers understandably face pressure to connect with buyers.

However, certain approaches can work better than others. With the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit around the corner, it’s a good time to revisit how best to connect with the retail link of the produce supply chain.

After all, supply chain-wide events are where companies and our industry are most primed to gain the biggest advances.

A mingling supply chain creates a mash-up of individual connections, perspectives, information and cultures. This intersection establishes fertile ground for innovation, problem solving and growing produce consumption.

At PMA, we hold our share of meetings that gather the global supply chain, so we decided to ask some of our retail members to speak anonymously on their preferences for forging supplier relationships.

Turns out professionalism, respect and understanding are your most effective tools.

Here is what else buyers had to say.

New products are not enough

It’s no secret new items are an important attraction for retailers, particularly at trade shows. But just because it’s new doesn’t mean it meets the retailer’s needs.

As one buyer told us, “I often get suppliers saying to me something along the lines of ‘I have an item for you!’ without even knowing who we are as a company or even seeing one of our stores.”

It’s about them, not you

The buyers we spoke with repeatedly said personalization gets noticed.

“When a supplier has a personalized deck for me that hits on key points, I remember that. Obviously the supplier needs to perform, but I know that supplier went the extra step to prepare to talk about either our current business or prospective business.”

Buyers also said a supplier’s company strategy needs to fit their own company strategy.

Remember the main canon of effective marketing and communications: Know and speak to your target audience’s needs, problems and concerns.

Forget the competition

Always promote for your product or company, never promote against anybody. As one buyer put it, “There’s nothing more frustrating than a supplier telling me to stop buying from folks we’ve had relationships with for decades and instead just flip the switch and buy from them.”

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