If you’re an inventor or brand owner and ready to expand your distribution from Amazon and eCommerce then this webinar is a must-watch for you!
Join me as I host Yohan Jacob of RetailBound as he provides expert insight tips on how to pitch and communicate with buyers in order to successfully launch into retail.
Shannon: Hello and welcome to the webinar, I’m your host Shannon Roddy, the founder of Marketplace Seller Courses, online courses, resources and tools designed to help brand owners launch and grow their business on Amazon. I have with me today a special guest, Yohan Jacob. He is the President and Founder of RetailBound, an international omni-channel branding/marketing and sales agency. Yohan started his career selling products to retailers before switching to the buying side where he held senior merchandising positions at both Sears Holdings and OfficeMax.
Yohan is a noted author, retail consultant and retail coach who teaches entrepreneurs, inventors, and small suppliers how to stand out from the competition and get their products sold to retailers and distributors. His book Retail Bound: How to Sell your Products to Retailers is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the success of which led him to launch a consulting company around the book’s principles. Yohan, thank you so much for being on today.
Yohan: Anytime Shannon. Thanks for having me.
Shannon: So, we’re going to go ahead and get started. Yohan has got a phenomenal presentation that I’m very excited to go through. We work with tons of brand owners who sell on Amazon and inevitably at some point in a product’s life cycle, we’ve got inventors, entrepreneurs, people who buy companies, people who invent products, Amazon is a great starting place. It’s a great place to get proof of concept, to launch to his initial sales, get those initial reviews and we’ve talk about how important controlling Amazon is, your presence on Amazon, in order to effectively to move through that next stage of retailers, distribution and beyond.
So, I’m really excited to have Yohan go through this. We’ll be taking questions at the end as well as if you have any questions, go ahead and throw this up in the chat box. We’ll get to those. But for now, I’m going to go ahead and pass it off to Yohan. Yohan, thank you so much for being here and I can’t wait to see you go through this presentation.
Yohan: Cool. Thanks, Shan. Thanks for having me on this webinar here. So, like Shannon mentioned, my name is Yohan. I’m the President and Founder of RetailBound and we’re going to go through some tips and strategies to stand out from your competition when you’re presenting to a large and medium-sized retailers.
So, in today’s agenda, there are really a couple of things. Well, a little introduction about myself, a little more in-depth, more than Shannon explained. There’ll be two lessons that we’re going on over. One is are you ready for retail? A lot of information to take note of. The second lesson is really getting the retail buyer’s attention. You know in today’s hyper competitive environment, buyers have been bombarded with a lot of information from what they see on TV, what they read, emails, phone calls, so how you stand out and we’ll give some tips and strategies to get ahead. And finally, you know, because you spend this valuable time with me, I have a little gift at the end. So, hopefully you stay awake long to hear what the gift is. And finally, as Shannon mentioned, any questions, feel free to let me or Shannon know. We’d be happy to answer them.
So, a little more about me than what Shannon explained. RetailBound is a channel marketing or an omni-channel brand agency. We’ve been around for over 10 plus years. And since 2008 we’ve educated, we’ve taught, and we’ve consulted over 4,000 startups around the world. We offer various assortments of services from one-on-one retail coaching to letting us run your sales and marketing here in the US or in Europe. Myself, I have been in business for over – I have been in industry for over 25 years actually. I’m experienced on both the B2C and the B2B world. A lot of the brands we work with today come from that the successful kickstarter Indiegogo campaign or they launch in Amazon and saw some success and want to scale on retail. And that’s why they’re interested in having us be their go-to market expert when it comes to retail 101.
Today in this webinar, you’re going to learn really two things. One, you’re going to really understand how retail buyers like myself think. Now, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve been in the shoes of both the buyer as well as the manufacturer, so hopefully, all the tips I share with you will make sense. Second thing you’re going to learn today is how to really present your products to retailers the right way. You know I said that I’ve seen my share of the good, the bad – although when it comes to vendor presentations, right? Some are good, most are not. We’re going to help you again, be able to have one of the better presentations.
So, when I always do webinars I always have questions I always ask kind of, you know kind of spur discussion. Since it’s a webinar, I’ll probably answer the question myself but at least think about it. So, when dealing with retail buyers what is your number one goal, right? What’s your objective when dealing with retailers of all shapes and sizes? Let’s think about it for a second or two. There’s really the secret I call in selling to retail buyers is make their buyer’s job easier.
I’ll give you a good example. One of our clients is getting ready to sell on Brookstone, both at the airport stores and dot com. Well, asked me to provide the content to Brookstone, to put their item online. And the merch – the vendor gave like literally 200 photos and videos for Brookstone, right, to – well honestly, Brookstone is not going to put 200 photos and videos up on their website, right? So, also I said the client, “Before we do this, let’s pare down, what are the exact images or videos, I’m putting at Brookstone? Maybe it’s three images and a video.” Now, to rely on Brookstone to hand-pick what images and videos, that’s going to make the buyer’s job easier, right? It’s going to make it harder, right? Honestly, vendors who make it easier for retailers get more opportunities and become long-term vendor partners.
Startups or small brands don’t get that. All they care about is getting at the end their first PO. It’s not too difficult getting the first PO. The challenge is getting the second PO, the third PO and so forth, right? So again, you make the buyer’s job easier. OK, you get more opportunities, you know they’d be market opportunities, in-store opportunities and so forth and become long-term partners with your retailers. And by the way, if you don’t make the buyer’s job easier, I guarantee your competition will. So, it’s important to do that.
You’re probably asking, “Well, Yohan, how do we go buyer’s job easier?” Simple. Here are about 12 or 13 tasks or things you could do to make the buyer’s job easier. The most important one is communication. Well, both written as well as verbal. You know, one of the things you’ll hear a lot in presentation is about the lack of follow-through, right? So, I’m working with retail merchant, you know, my client I make sure after conversation, I document, email, that there’s no misconceptions, it’s pretty much black or white, no shades of gray. So it’s very important to be – to have an open dialog or be consistent in communicating with your retailers.
You also make sure that you have completed new item set-up sheets. Don’t do a half-ass job. I can’t tell you how many times where a client will send me a set-up sheet to send it to a buyer, I’m like, “Wait a second. It’s missing in the dimensions. It’s missing a UPC code. It’s missing the copy. There’s no way I’m going to send this in on your behalf. It makes me look bad in front of the buyer, right?” So make sure that if you have the opportunity to work with a retailer that you fill-up the set up sheet completely. Don’t leave any missing blanks.
As I mentioned a second ago, having product images available for online or samples for shooting for catalogue or for pre-print ads, have that ready to go. Pricing, extremely important. They have that ready to go, right? Know what the buyer expects, all on the frontend, give me that – what is your lowest cost possible but also on the backend what are rebates they’re looking for? Having that ready to go will make the buyer’s job easier.
Product availability and lead-times, I know it’s tough for most startups as they are held at the mercy of their factories. But again, retailers need to know when was it shipped if they placed the order today, right? How long will it take, right? These are very important especially for retailers that are stocking in their stores. Larger retailers have set deadlines or guidelines to get products in the store. If we missed the deadline, we’ll probably wait till the next refill which could be weeks, maybe even months and it’s a missed sales opportunity.
Inventory forecasting. So again, you know, making the buyer’s job easier, larger retailers will require forecasts or send forecasts and make sure you do your end of honing up your bargain and making sure that the inventory is flowing consistently. And if you don’t show them stock then you won’t be able to sell it online or in-stores. So, forecasting is very important in becoming a long-term vendor partner.
Copy and marketing sell sheets. You are the experts of your product. You can’t expect the retail buyer who maybe has 200 vendors and 30,000 SKUs to be an expert in your category, right? So, it’s important that you have the marketing sell sheets, you have the web and catalog copy, again to make their job easier, right, which will help you sell more products through their stores or their website.
One of the biggest, the last two things that make buyer’s job easier, a lot of really forget about this. One, what’s your marketing strategy? What’s your marketing calendar look like? You know, selling to retailers is one thing but driving sell through is another thing. And retail buyers you know they’re going to spend the effort in marketing, a one SKU or small brand. It’s really up to the brand themselves to do the marketing, right? So, what are the external and internal marketing strategies? It could be paid search, Facebook ads, email blast, content, promotions, trainings, there’s a lot of stuff you could do from a market perspective to drive traffic to a store, a website or a catalog.
And finally, if you’re in a category like consumer electronics which I spend probably a third of my life in from our clients that consumer electronics turn very quickly. Today’s hot technology headphone, in the next 10 months, they’re no longer hot headphones now as your product, right? So, what’s your exit strategy? So, if you have three products on Best Buy shelf and you know that hey, in 10 months you’re going to refresh two of those three items, what’s your strategy? Are you going to give the buyer markdown money to liquidate so that they can buy your new refreshed versions? Are you going to take back the product? Clear their shelf so they can buy your new product? So again, you know, what’s your exit strategy in again making the buyer’s job easier? Well, these a dozen more tactics will definitely make the buyer’s job easier and make you a long-term vendor partner.
Now, before – we get a lot of inbound inquiries at RetailBound because then we’re usually a one-stop shop, helping brands get into retail stores of all shapes and sizes. So, just like a retail buyer, we kind of ask probably the same two or three questions. The first question is “Do you have products that customers want?” And I would say that every brand says, “Yes, customers want to buy our products. It could be online on Amazon or in-store at Best Buy or on-air QVC, we have – we make products that customers want.” Great.
The second thing is “Does your products generate enough margin and a profit for retailers?” And then I would say, some say, “Ah, I don’t know.” And that’s why they definitely hire us to definitely help with that pricing scenario. Selling on Amazon is one thing, selling to a retailer is a totally different animal, right? But Amazon, because you’re on Seller Central, it’s basically you’re paying monthly fee and a commission on sales. You’re on Vendor Central, you’re buying – you’re doing like a Best Buy or an Apple, it’s a cost-sell or buy-sell relationship, right? But most young brands you worked with who come on Seller Central don’t understand about a margin’s requirements that retailers need and then we help them with that process.
And the last thing we always asked is “Do you follow-through on promises you make to people?” If they say no, I guarantee you, we’re not going to be – you’re not going to be client of ours. Say, yes, great because honestly, we’d love to represent you in front of retailers like at Best Buy, at Brookstone, on Apple, at Costco and so forth, right? If you say yes, you answered all these three questions you’ll definitely be a great partner for RetailBound but more importantly, a great partner for your retailers.
So, the first thing I would do when you’re trying to get for retail is develop a go to market strategy OK? Now, here are some of the things you want to have in your strategy. It can be a one page or it going to be a 30-page document, right? Who are the target retailers you want to go after, right? Now, if you’re a small brand in house wares, are you going after Macy’s? Are you going after Kohl’s? Are going after Bed Bath and Beyond? Who are the right retailers that make sense for your brand? If you’re a high end brand, Walmart is probably not going to be your target audience, right? Probably more like a Nordstrom’s, right, or a Macy’s. You’re going to find who are the right retailer based on your brand image and your pricing strategy.
You also want to identify the retailer’s buying patterns. So, you know, reaching out to a buyer in November of this year to say, “Hey, we want to be in your stores. This year it’s probably going to sell next to none, right?” Most retailers for some of the category, I know four to 18 months out around the category. So, in apparel, right, they work probably 18 months out. So right now, they’re probably working on spring 2020, give or take. So, we’re in consumer electronics, you know they’re working on things right now. So, it depends on the type of product category and the retail you’re working with.
When you’re developing your strategy for retailers, you want to make sure, how are their sales? What’s – how are they doing a year to date? And that information is done through either any reports or something you might see online. But again, if a retailer is not doing well financially like a Sears, definitely want some, right because it kind of boils to the next one. Their ability to pay invoices, and the time it takes. A great example, Fry’s. Fry’s Electronics has about 33 stores nationwide, great little retailer, they ranked number 12 and top 100 consumer electronics retailers. But they’re known in the industry of slow paying. No offense, I’d love to have my brand in Fry’s but it takes them 90 days or longer to pay my invoices. Probably not a good thing much better if we work with a retailer that pays the invoices in a much shorter duration or at least promptly.
You’re a young brand with a couple of SKUs, the bigger retailers most likely will go to distribution versus being direct, that’s how it goes. Retailers really setup a small vendor directly, at least on the first pass. It takes as much effort and it’s not a small vendor with three or four SKUs than a vendor that has 300 SKUs. So as you’re developing you go-to market strategy, you need to think about adding the distributor part to it. And there are someone also taking a cut of your margin to get into retail.
Dot com versus brick and mortar from most brands and because you’re on this call, you’re probably on Amazon and some other marketplaces like Newegg or Walmart or larger retailers like a Best Buy or Target or you know Walmart, typically buyers say, “Well, to reduce that risk, we’ll out it online.” It’s a great way to test with a very little risk on their part. It does well online then there’s a chance to get into stores. We’ve had several clients who are using Best Buy as an example, will start online for three, six, nine months, see how it does and if it does well and hits the metrics, that’s getting by the buyer, there’s opportunity to get stores or be you know 30 stores, 50 stores, a thousand stores, right? And so forth. So, I’m going to think about and I think for most brands on this call, it’s about that – we call that slow burn. Start small, making mistakes along the way and then scale up as your business grows.
Now, common mistakes – obviously when you’re selling to retailers and do it by yourself you’d hire a consultant like RetailBound. Here are some of the common mistakes that most brands make. One is lack of preparation. And hopefully after this webinar, this won’t happen to you guys. In retail, like in life in general, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. So it’s important that you don’t go on to meet a buyer and waste their time. So hopefully, after this 45-minute webinar, you’ll feel a lot more confident in preparing to talk to retail in person, over the phone or at a trade show.
The second mistake is over promising, under delivering. At sales people, we always want to get, we want to win the sale and do whatever it takes, right? You know, over promising is like “Yeah, we could do that. We can get you 50 pieces by tomorrow.” Or “Yeah, we can cut our cost like 80%.” If you can’t do it, don’t promise it. Again, it’s about integrity and being a long-term partner so definitely don’t over promise, under deliver. It should be the other way around.
Another common mistake you know and I’ve seen it a few times in my life as a merchant, is lying. You know the vendor has plain lied to me. I have emails documenting this is what we said, you’re sending something different. And again, buyers have a long-term memory and buyers do move around a lot. So just because you may have pissed off the buyer by lying to him or her, right, if the buyer moves to another retailer you want to work at or sell to, most likely you won’t get an appointment because you burn the buyer, you lie to the buyer at retail XYZ, most likely you’re not going to talk to that retailer one, two, three. So, definitely you don’t want to lie. Tell the truth and be ethical and honest.
And I said, as I mentioned earlier, the lack of like a poor follow-through, so the buyer says, “Listen Shannon, I want the sale by next Monday because I got to pitch me into my senior management.” “Sure, not a problem because we’ll send it by Monday.” Monday comes around and Shannon delivered over me the sample, makes me look bad. And that’s not good. And I guarantee you you’re not going to get another opportunity to sell to me. Now, we know things do come up. Maybe the sample is being used by another retailer. Call me. Email me. “Hey Yohan, Guess what? The sample we give to you, another retailer is taking some foes. Can I get you by Tuesday overnight or Wednesday? Would that be an issue or not?” Right? You know, in this world of this digital age, you know it shouldn’t be that hard to you to reach out to a buyer and let them on what’s going on. And I basically it’s called setting the customer expectations but the lack of follow-through definitely is a mistake that brands make and that’s why they don’t last very long in retail.
Now, before we meet a retail buyer, there are some things you want to make sure you have at the tip of your tongue. First is, you know will samples be available? You got nothing to show a buyer in person whether it be a physical sample, or even a picture, right? Don’t waste their time, right? Make sure you’re product packaging, now, for Amazon sellers or if you will sell on catalog, it could be a white box or a brown box. But if you’re selling to physical retailers like a Best Buy, like a Target, like a Costco, you need four color retail box or retail packaging. A white or brown box will not cut it. Let me tell you, so you got make sure these is finalized, not to a point where you’ve got to develop physical samples but that you’ve raised at least an image where you show a buyer and get feedback on your retail packaging.
Obviously, as I mentioned earlier again, pricing and your back-end program, make sure again before you meet with the buyer, to understand what your expectations are from the margins as well as any back-end rebates whether for advertising or defective allowances and so forth. Now, this is something you definitely want to have at the back of your – back of your mind before you meet with a retail buyer.
Another thing you want to make sure is – well, it seems common sense, make sure you identify what are your unique selling point or benefits to your product or product line? In a world where you meet two products that are really priced is where they need this determining feature, the point besides price, what are things make you stand out from your competition, right? And why your product is better than theirs, right? So, between this that I mentioned before for how your product has an advantage are things you definitely want to make sure you have before you meet with a retail buyer.
Finally, you want to make sure that you have – your advertising or promotional plans developed, is it a high level? That would specific to uptake a retailer but at a high level knowing OK, what’s the promotional or marketing kind of look like that drive sales to a retailer. Some other things you want to make sure that you want to have is when will a product be able to ship? So we meet a buyer and it’s June 5th and they want to know, “Hey, when would it be available? Is it going to be available in July? Is it going to be available in August? Is it available next year?” So know when the product will be shipped, very important to know that before you meet with a buyer.
I call fun facts or stats like on a baseball card. Know what your current sales history. This is very important to outline in the slide. How are sales doing? We’ll be on – besides your own website, on Amazon, on other dot com platforms, right? How are sales by year, to date, month to date in dollars and in units. All right? You also want to make sure what percentage of your returns are truly defective versus buyer’s remorse, right?
I know Amazon is very flexible in taking back returns of all shapes and sizes. So it’s important to tell about “Yes, we’ve sold you know 6,000 units year to date and we have an average of about 2% return rate on Amazon but majority of those returns are truly buyer’s remorse not defective. And finally, we have a plan to address that to reduce “buyer’s remorse”, right on Amazon and trying to get less than 1%. But knowing what your return rate or defective rate is important to share with a retail buyer. For example, you’re a new brand with very little sales history. We want to know you know your facts.
You also want to know what is the retail price in all dot com retailers. On Amazon, if you’re on Seller Center, you control the price and that’s easy, right? Other retailers you work with where you don’t really control the end – your pricing, well, how is it if your product sells for 19.99, right on Amazon and Walmart.com sell it at 12.99 and you meet with Target, you’re not going to be too happy, say “Hey, you’re selling this 19.99, if I go online quickly I see Walmart has a 12.99? Not too good.” So, you want to make sure that the pricing is in line across the board before you meet with the retail buyer so you don’t get embarrassed.
You also want to make sure, this is what I love with Amazon, how are – how’s your reviews, right? Are you’re a four star – you know, are you four-and-a-half? Are you five stars in Amazon? You know buyers like myself, when we look at potential products, obviously Amazon is the first place we search, we look at the product, we look at the pricing, we look at if they A-plus content which is very important but also most important we look at the reviews. We have two reviews or 2,000 reviews. We look at the reviews especially the ones that are verified, not the free reviews or unverified but the verified reviews is what we really look at to help us guide. It’s just something we want to work with for our retail operations.
Now, getting the retail buyer’s attention, right? I asked this question a lot to young product startups: “How do you find retail buyers to contact? What are the ways in today’s age to find retail buyers?” There’s a couple of ways, you know, obviously in today’s world, LinkedIn and online, networking is a great way to find the right buyers for your product line or talking to manufacturers who may – who sell non-competing products, whatever landscape would apply a retail buyer who could do a mutual referral. That’s one of the best ways of finding the right buyer is by networking both online as well as offline.
Another great way of finding buyers, I call it inbound. So, PR, email campaigns, inquiries from your website or inquiries from printed ads. These are another great way of finding buyers, OK, to talk to. You know several times as a merchant I’ve reached out to various vendors I’ve interest in working with through their website, through I saw in the press and so forth. So, that’s another great way of finding the right buyers to talk to.
Trade shows, we’ll talk a little more about this later on in the presentation because it’s the great way expensive, but if I want better ways of talking to the right buyers for your products. And then finally directories, both print and online. When I started selling to retailers back in the early ‘90s, there wasn’t a thing called the internet. There wasn’t Google, right? So what I used was a directory called the Chain Store Guide. They’re still after 30 years, still in existence where it’s broken up by trade, hardware, department, babies, toys. It’s a great directory usually updated every two or three years, a lot of good information to find retailers and distributors to reach out to. So, again, one of the few directories I recommend in using to find the right retailers to reach out to.
Now, today’s retail buyer obviously they’re very busy, right? They got a lot of responsibilities, Buyers today like my biggest line was 8 15 million dollars, that’s a mid-sized company in today’s world. My smallest line of about 45 million dollars, that’s a small company, right? So, buyers have a lot of responsibility when it comes to P&L. As I mentioned, they are busy, they wear multiple hats. Being a retail merchant in a corporate environment, it’s one of the few jobs at retail that affects every department at retail. So, as a buyer you talk to in-store marketing, you take to store operations, you talk to ask protection, you talk to IT, you talk to accounts payable, you talk to your sourcing team and so forth, right? So, it’s one of the few jobs in retail where the buyer affects literally every department at corporate retail.
Today’s buyer is probably more so than I was a buyer, very spreadsheet literate now from VLOOKUPs to HLOOKUPs and in between, right? They’re very spreadsheet literate. And again, while they’re spreadsheet literate, they’re always running these reports, understand they’re – especially their KPIs like sales, profit, inventory returns and so forth, markdowns and run reports for senior management to see on Mondays. In fact, one a worst days to cold call a buyer is Mondays, why? Because they’re running reports for their senior management on how the sales were that past weekend. So, if you’re going to contact a buyer, whether email or by phone, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday is the best. Friday probably you’re ready to go out playing golf especially this time of year, right? So, really Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday is the best.
You know retail buyer besides running reports and being really busy, they may have a small team of associate buyers or junior buyers that report to them. They are also managing inventory you know, it’s their job. They may be the one who are pushing the button or the inventory or there was – they also make sure the inventory is flowing through consistently throughout the store, right? So that’s their job, is make sure the inventory is right for your print up product category.
And they’re also developing a high level marketing events, high drive track at a storewide to drive sales. You know we’ll be all on sale, we’ll be on Father’s Day sale, we’ll be about a school sale and what the right products that fall under that trick or sale event. Well, these are the things that buyers do every day. They don’t – life things they go and have lunch with the vendors and play golf.
Now, retail buyers you know when they’re seeing new products and new vendors, they consider multiple factors before they buy our product. A couple of things are customer demand, including the price, the quality and availability. So, for example, in using electronics right now, smart home is hot, right? Smart doorbells, smart locks, smart cameras and so forth, right? So, I see the huge demand for smart home products, right? And all types of quality and pricing and even availability at some sort.
So, look at market trends, I’ll see more and more people have you know broadband or wifi in their homes so they just have these smart products like Alexa or Ring or Nest, right? So what are the market trends in smart home? Store policies, right? Very important. I was a buyer there are certain things I couldn’t do at Sears that a merchant can do at Best Buy because of the store policies we had in place to protect our associates and our merchandise.
And finally, financial budget. So it’s like you and I, we have a buyers have a checkbook. They cannot keep buy, buy, buy and not sell, sell, sell. It’s like us as consumers, right? We can’t buy, buy, buy, if we have no money in our checkbook. So, it’s an interesting game with retail buyers, try and manage inventory and make sure that they’re not over stock or under stock.
By the end of the day, a retail buyer wants to drive traffic to your stores which help of course through stores, the website, their catalog, and of course, want to beat their competitors. If I’m Target, I’m looking at Penney’s, I’m looking at Sears, I’m looking at Kohl’s, I’m looking at Walmart. These are my – competitors. If I’m Staples, I’m looking at Office Depot, I’m looking at Amazon. I’m looking at the clubs, right, as my direct competition for office product and so forth.
Now, one of the things that I get asked a lot by young brands is it better to email or cold call a retail buyer? There are definitely advantages and disadvantages of both. Now, I’ll see when you – it’s easy to find an email list, right? And you’d say, “Yes, I send out hundreds of emails to retail buyers.” Disadvantages, it’s spam and you’ll probably get a very, very, very low response rate. Calling, right, I’ll see you know the advantage is you’ll be able to get instant feedback from buyer whether they’re interested in taking to you further. The disadvantage it’s tough. You know I call it voicemail hell, right? You get a lot of voicemails and you go through like gatekeeper too, it’s tough and a lot people don’t like to making cold calls.
So of the two, which one do you think I recommend by the way? Well, what I recommend is actually sknow, when you finally do get them on the phone, you know the goal is not to – the goal is not to send them samples or make a pitch. The goal is to try to get a second appointment, right? And we’ll talk in the next slide how to get the buyer’s attention.
Speaking of samples, you definitely want to send unsolicited samples. When I was a manufacturer, I said, “Wow! They’re going to get free samples. They should definitely call me, right?” And when I become a retail buyer, I’m like, “We saw these free samples. I don’t want this, right?” So again, as long as the buyer asked for it, you’re not going to send a sample to him or her. Speaking of the phone calls as I said that’s probably the best way. You want to call first after you established contact. Then you can send email following up a detail and discussion of with the buyer.
Some of the roadblocks and there’s really two. One is the gatekeepers. You know buyers on purpose are highly standout group. I used to get in my day, easy you know probably 50 to 100 calls a week and over 200, it’d be easy 200 emails a week as well on potential suppliers who want to work with me. So, there are gatekeepers out there to break – to reduce the amount of inbound infusion to me, right? I only talk to the vendors that make sense for my retail stores.
Another roadblock is I call the voicemail hell, right? You know can I get a buyer on the phone. Again, it’s a little rare that the buyer is going to call you. They don’t know who you are from a voicemail you leave, right? So, try call times later and see if you can get the buyer on the phone. Sometimes early in the morning before 9:00AM when the buyer just gets in or after 5:00PM, buyers work long hours that 9:00 to 5:00 you might get their voicemail before 9:00 or after 5:00 PM you might get lucky to get a buyer on the phone.
When you are lucky and again, the purpose of the first phone call is not to sell them. The purpose of the first phone call is to get a second phone call to talk more in-depth about your product because it’s really a cold call, it was unexpected or better yet a face-to-face meeting with the buyer. You only have – you read about 60 seconds maybe two minutes at best to kind of get the attention of the buyer on that first phone call? Basically here are really the next steps. You want to introduce yourself, company you work for. You want to give a quick, one-sentence overview of your company and the product you manufacture or sell.
And this is very important. Make sure you ask, “Is this a good time to talk?” I can’t tell you too many times as a buyer even say as a consultant I get so many inbound calls and I’ll say, “Hey, my name is Bob. I work for so and so. And boom! You’re at the end of your sales pitch.” You know, you’re better off asking, “Is this a good time to talk?” Maybe the buyer picked up the phone, not looking at the caller ID and had to run to a meeting in 15 minutes, right? And so, there’s no time for a phone call. Maybe they have another party that’s pending, right? So, ask them, “Is this a good time to talk?” If they say yes, then, then yeah then continue into your overview of what you’re trying to talk about. If they say no, then say “OK, no problem. I would try to call you some other time that’s more convenient for you and me.” All right?
Also, you want to give a reason for the phone call. Well, I’ve been a buyer of your store for a long time and seen an opportunity to work with you and I want to have my product XYZ, right? So, give a reason why you’re calling, right? Some of the things I recommend as appointment making phrases. “Hey, I’ve been selling on Amazon for the last 12 months, sales are off the roof. I have 400 great reviews, very low at the second rate, I thought you know that’s probably a great retailer to target next, how can we have an appointment?” Or, “Hey, I’ve been a customer of Best Buy for a really long time. You know it’s in-store, you’re missing some opportunities in your assortment and I’d love to see how I can fulfill those gaps.” So, those are some of the things that I would recommend on trying to make an appointment whether a retail buyer over on the phone or for in-person meeting.
And by the way, most retail buyers don’t like experimenting with an untested or unproven vendor. Now, if you’re on Amazon, that’s great. You have a sales history, you have reviews, you have other metrics you can share. If haven’t been selling on Amazon, right, just your own website, a little more difficult to get a buyer to take a chance. So, if you haven’t sold on Amazon, that’s what we recommend first. Get back going and then hopefully once sales and reviews look good then that makes sense to talk to a retailer.
Now, if by chance that you don’t have a lot of sales, you whether it be on Amazon or on your own website, you know then it’s about trying to find some other retail accounts that are a little small, getting some sales, and then go out there and talk to the larger retailers. But if you go to Best Buy without any sales is a very tough thing to do, OK?
Obviously buyers they have that, we call that you know see there’s a wall between you and them. They always have a lot of objections or issues and here are some strategies to best answer them. The first one is from retailers, “I don’t want to be the first account or the first retailer to carry it.” right? So, how do you overcome that? There are really two things. One, maybe we take some risk off their sides saying, “How about a guaranteed sale? I mean if it doesn’t sell after X number days or months or whatever, I’ll take it back. No questions asked. No restocking fee need to be paid, right?”
Another way to answer this objection is talk about your marketing strategy. “Yeah, you’re the first account, right? But I have this marketing program. I’ve got sale this to your retail stores, you retail website.” You want to overcome being the first brand to carry it, the first retailer to carry it.
Another objection, “Hey, right now, I’d love to your product you know Shannon but I’m over inventory. I have really no open to buy, right? Well, again, two ways to combat that objection. Offer may be extended payment terms. Many who take a retail they have maybe 30 payment terms and give them net 45 or net 60, give them a little longer time to pay your invoice.
Or another one, it’s a little riskier, consignment, right? Where – consignment, for those who don’t know what it is, it’s basically free inventory upfront. The retailer does not pay for it. They only pay when it actually sells through. So, you should, if Best Buy wanted consignment, you’re shipping 20 pieces. They don’t pay for 20 pieces. They only ship on sales. So, if they sell two units for the month of June, they’ll pay you for units sold in June and so forth. And so, consignment is another way of getting a buyer to overcome objections. They have no money to buy inventory.
One of the most common objections that brands hear from retail buyers is your prices are too high. And maybe the case if you don’t know how to price your product the correct way and we can definitely help you with that if needed. But if your prices are pretty much in line to other competition, don’t be the first one to lower your price. Start lowering your price, if that’s your profit margin and it’s hard to go back up.
Some things I recommend to combat that objection, talk about your quality. “I mean no offense, yeah, you may be the lowest price in town, great but if you have a high return rate, I don’t want to be with you.” So, if your price is – if your price is relatively high compared to competition but the quality of product definitely warrants it, and you have very low returns, OK. Talk about your service. Have you been in business for a long time? How you service your account? Look at the reviews, right? Talk about other retailers who have been buying your product, if there are any. But these are some ways to combat that your prices are too high objection.
And finally, you know, I have similar products in my assortment. Again, now, if you have something that – if you have couple of products that look are similar to what they have, talk about how you may help in the buyer consolidate their vendor base. Hey, maybe they can kill three vendors, right, by picking you up, this way you provide better cost, a better program overall. The vendor has one vendor to deal with yourself versus four vendors, you and three other vendors, right? So, we’re going to make their job easier, as we discussed earlier in the presentation.
Now, if by chance the buyer says, “Hey, that is great Shannon. I want some samples sent them to my office.” Make sure that you verify the name, the correct spelling, as well as the shipping address. You know there’s large retailer like Best Buy or Walmart, it’s like a little city of its own, right? So, it’s important to make sure you verify what address you shipped the sample to or it would be sent back to you. And also, from a buyer, make sure you spell your name correctly. If you misspell a name, not a great way to start a relationship by making grammatical mistakes.
You also make sure that you set a time with the buyer to follow-up. Too many time as I buyer, I get all these samples but no time of following-up. Awesome, it’s two months later and I get a phone call or email, “Hey, Yohan, how was the sample I sent you in February?” “I don’t know, that was two months ago. I don’t know how it was, right?” Typically, a good time to follow up after you shipped a sample is around two weeks. Buyers aren’t really going to take a sample and they get and open up. It may take some time. They have other things on their to-do list, you saw what they do as a buyer. But you’ve got two weeks to follow-up with a buyer after they receive their sample. Hopefully they had a chance to play with it.
As I mentioned earlier, tradeshows are a great way but expensive way to find the right retailers to work with or talk to. Some of the things and here are some tips to make sure that the trade show is a success for your company. One is make sure that the trade show is right one for you. Some of our clients typically will attend a trade show first before exhibiting it next year. They just want to see the audience, see the typical retailers, see the flow, see how busy it is and so forth. So, if you’re going to see, yes, you’re going to retail vision. You’re going to ease your helm. You’re going to house wares, hardware, the Toy Fair, the Kid Expo and so forth. Make sure it’s the right trade show if we invest money exhibiting.
You also make sure you have a strategy for the trade show. Why are we there? Are we there of building relationship with our current retailers? Are we there to get PR purposely for our new product line? Are we there to try to find new suppliers, new retailers to work with, right? So why are you going to this trade show? Why you come in to go to hardware show or the Toy Expo?
You also want to make sure you send enough people to ensure adequate booth coverage. It seems common sense that if you’re a one-man operations, right, you know standing on your feet for 10 hours a day is very grueling plus you got to eat, you got to go to the bathroom, right? So, it’s important you have more than one person. And if you are one-man operation, one person operation, there are definitely companies who can rent you people, help you work the show side by side with yourself.
Make sure the people who are going with you, whether it be employees or contractors, you stress the value of friendly greetings, polite manners and appropriate body language. Again, common sense, but again, I’ve gone to this several trade shows most recently was Halfair Show show in Chicago where you know a couple of booths, that some of the people there were on their phones tapping away. Others looked they were bored where they fall asleep. Am I going to stop by that booth? Probably not, I’ll keep walking on by. So make sure the people that you send to cover the booth are the right ones to work the show with you.
You also make sure you have someone on your team to answer the more technical questions, if you’re not the expert. Again, a few times where I’ve asked some questions like, “I don’t know.” “You don’t know? Can you at least give me the answer, right? That would help.” So make sure there is someone in your team to answer the more complex questions.
Now, I’ll see you’re not the only vendor exhibiting at a trade show. There would be hundreds or thousands of brands exhibiting at a trade show trying to get the buyer to stop into their booth. One of the best ways to get a buyer stop by your booth is do a product demonstration. Or worst case, a raffle or a contest. But we want to get the person in the booth, do your demo, do a contest or raffle, get the information about them and keep them moving, right? But yeah, this is one of the better ways to get people in your booths. Again, it will help you get a good return on your investment on this trade show.
Make sure you follow-up on hot leads and/or promising prospects. So, at times I’ve given out my card to you know retail suppliers or retail brands at this trade shows and not get a response email or phone call back till month, months later on. And that’s too late. I’ll probably give like about two weeks to follow-up on the hot leads or the promising prospects. Yeah, they give some – it gives the buyer out of the office through a week to catch up me on office. So about two weeks after you meet them at a trade show it’s like best to follow-up and make sure their needs or concerns have been addressed. And lastly, like your mom has told you make sure you always say thank you to your attendees for some by your booth and of course, don’t forget those free cookies.
Now, let’s a buyer, you met at a tradeshow or you did a cold call and say, “Hey Shannon, great, I want to meet with you in person.” Now what? Right? You need to put here a sales presentation folder. Some of the components, one is your – an overview of the company. Who are you? How long have you been in business? How many employees do you have? Are you private held or are you a public trade company? You know make sure you have some market research on the category industry and you have some testimonials from your customers on your product line or your company.
Product brochures or we call sell sheets or slicks you should have that also included in your presentation folder. A pricelist – if you have multiple products, I mean you have a pricelist handy for your buyer to reference during your presentation. Make sure you have a hard copy of your deck like this. I’m presenting on my PC or tablet, right? If by chance that I have this to be on my PC or just on a monitor in the conference room that I have a hard copy of the deck that the customer can – that the retailer can review while you’re doing your pitch. And of course, include your business card. Make sure that they know how to contact you via email or by phone.
Now, crafting your PowerPoint presentation is very, very, very, very important. So you want to definitely don’t overload the slides information. Now, you’re not reading the word verbatim, right? It’s an outline, right? And most vendors don’t even use the deck it’s there for show. They kind of speak from the gut, right? But if you do a deck, don’t overload it with too much information. Keep it simple with a couple of bullets.
Make sure the slides make sense. So, having your market strategy in a beginning of the deck doesn’t make sense. Probably if they have more at the end where they’re going to be touching more about our company and your product line, where marketing and those are like things we wanted at the end of the deck. Make sure that when you list any features you also list the benefits. Don’t assume that buyer, as I mentioned earlier, is an expert of your product, right? Especially if they’re managing hundreds of product categories or vendors. So, make sure you don’t assume but you list the key benefits of every major feature on your slide.
When you do meet the retail buyer, again, use common sense. So, don’t smoke beforehand, don’t put a lot of perfume on, arrive on time, don’t chew gum. Again, common sense and we’ll hopefully do you right. Make sure the samples are working. Do a check the night before or at least the morning of. You had to go on a meeting and the sample is not working or not even here. So make sure the samples are working before you meet with the buyer.
Like we said, the slide before, make sure copies of the deck and a folder are made so you’re ready to go. And then when we do meet with the buyer, keep the small talk brief. If you only have three minutes or you have an hour, talk about the weather, talk about the sports whatever, keep it simple and to the point. It’s about you and your product and why a retailer should consider it for their stores or their website.
Listen carefully, you know sales people like to sell, sell, sell but rarely listen. So, listen to the buyer. They may give you some insight tips on how to sell. But more importantly, take good notes. And as I said the last few times in the webinar, always follow-through an action item. So, if we had a meeting today and we talk about pricing, we talk about sample, we talk about seller sheets, you say, “Yup, I’ll get it to you buy next Monday.” Well, I hope by Monday, I’ll have them. Now, if Monday comes around and I didn’t get the information, I’ll say. “What a waste to meet with Shannon. I’m definitely not doing business with Shannon ever again.” So, it’s important that whatever items come up in the meeting, that you or your team follows up promptly with the buyer to show that you want to be a long-term partner with them.
Now, actually the most important thing is close the sale. Now, you know you took the buyer to golf, you took them out to dinner or lunch, but more important is about closing the sale. Is this for dot com only? Is it through their stores? Is it on-air, online? So, make sure you close the sale.
Finally, once you become a– you’ve been approved by the retailer to be a vendor record, you get we call a Vendor Agreement or a Vendor Contract. Now, there’s going to be some common terms and conditions you might see like Payment Terms and Discounts. As I mentioned earlier, deck and programs like marketing or advertising allowances. You may see Volume Incentive or Defective Allowances also mentioned in the contract or agreement. We also may get in addition to the Vendor Agreement, you may get something efficient called their Vendor Compliance program – how you take orders, how you process orders, how you ship, how to invoice. If by any chance you don’t do one of these things correctly, you get slapped on the wrist which we call fines.
So, you shipped to the wrong warehouse, boom! 200 bucks. You shipped with no bar code label or invoice, boom! 500 bucks. You invoiced the wrong price, boom! A 1,000 bucks and so forth. So the Vendor Compliance is a matter you definitely want you or your warehouse manager to read through thoroughly because making simple shipping mistakes will eat into your product margins.
Some other things that may be to address maybe in the Vendor Agreement or maybe a separate discussion, returns. How returns, whether it be customer returns or retail returns handled between yourself and the retailer. Some other things that may also be addressed whether it be in the contract or post contract, your warranty. Are they going to stock it? Or, you’re going to drop-ship? Who’s paying for the freight? Are you paying for the freight or is the retailer for the freight? And are there any minimum orders for the retailer to place on your product? So, these are the things that you may see once you become a vendor record, right? Or have been approved to be a vendor record that you need to deal with, with a retailer.
So, in summary, selling to retailer is not really difficult if you follow these three simple principles: One, be prepared. After 45 minutes talking about this, hopefully, you’re prepared about getting – like before you meet with a retail buyer. Again, as I mentioned earlier, making the buyer’s job easier. The easier you make the buyer’s job, the more opportunities will get in front of you. And finally, always follow-through on your promises. Anything you say to a buyer, make sure you back it up promptly.
So, as I mentioned earlier, as a thank you gift for listening to me talk for about an hour or so, I want to offer a little thank you gift. Good now until the end of June is a one-hour retail coaching service. It’s one hour, you can ask anything you want whether it about pricing or about going to a trade show, about meeting with a retail buyer or about a little more in-depth, more specific to your own needs and wants. Typically, we charge $125 for one hour but thanks to Shannon, we decided to offer this at a discount rate of about 25% off. So, for 75 bucks and it’s good for about two hours of retail coaching. So, if you’re interested, definitely send me a note at yjacob@Retailbound and I’ll be happy to schedule your first session.
And that concludes the webinar. Are there any questions?
Shannon: Yeah. Would you – Yohan, we’ll see if there’s any questions that pop-up. I’ve actually had a ton of questions and comments and some things to go through. So, first of all, wow! Thank you so much for going through that. I think having worked with different brands going through the process I’ve experienced into retail, that was the most thorough, helpful overview with and enormous amounts of understanding and information. So, first of all, thank you for that. I feel like anybody who attended today or watches this video in the future on our website or YouTube is going to get a ton of value out of this as well.
So, what I want to do is let me go through a handful of things that I know these or comments that came out. One, again, working with brands that are selling on Amazon, one of the things that we typically see is having that MAP pricing, having those MAP pricing agreements because it’s so critical, you know to ensure that if you’ve got a product that it is equally priced across the board whether it’s retail, whether it’s on Target.com, Amazon.com, your website, in-stores, small mom and pops, because that pricing, that price parity is one of the best leverages that you have. And when you – as you mentioned when you don’t have price parity, it can become really, really dangerous and you can have companies dump you, you can lose opportunities and we see that all the time.
Yohan: Correct. And a lot of young brands may try to sell to retailer themselves. One of the common mistakes that young brands do, they’ll sign with a distributor. OK, I’m going to distribute and do the selling for me. Well, a distributor if not matched correctly can sell your product to hundreds or thousands of other third-party marketplace sellers who’ll eventually will see on Amazon, right? And now, you lose control of your buy box. And all of sudden, there’s channel conflict, right?
And then when you go present to a buyer like Target or Best Buy, you know the first place they go is Amazon and you say, “Hey Shan, you’re telling me this product retails for 20 bucks but at Amazon it’s around 12 bucks. What the heck?” Right? So, having MAP policies and I think sometimes it’s tough for young brands “Well, I’m a small brand, how am I going to force Best Buy my MAP policy?” Well, yes you can. There are really a couple of things. One, if they unannounced bust your MAP, first you give them a call and you send a warning email. “Hey Bob, I know you’re selling on BestBuy.com, a product is $10 below the advertised price. It must be a mistake, can you please raise it back up.” Right?
If they do it again, then you have two options. You’re going to [A] not – you can to stop ship at them, right? You know turn around that inventory. That’s one thing you have as leverage. Or, as I mentioned the back-end rebates, you know the returns and allowances, the marketing allowance that some buyers use to fund their P&L. I’m not going to pay it, you know. If you’re not going to – if you’re not going to advertise the product at the minimum advertised price, then maybe we shouldn’t do business together and I’m not going to pay you those rebates that are due to you. So those are some ways to combat or control retailer to make sure they are following that.
And they might also say that most retailer. Almost all retailers I work with, I work with the best – like Best Buy, Costco, Target, Walmart, they all follow MAP. If someone busted MAP then they’ll bust as well, right? They don’t want to be the last guy at the party. So, if Amazon lowers a price, you know whether they do it or through a third-party, I guarantee you Walmart, Best Buy and other retailers will follow suit and then they would lose control. Does that make sense Shannon?
Shannon: Yeah, 100% which actually leads to the next point which is having distribution agreements in place both with the distributor as well as any retailers even mom and pop. People think “Oh, I can just sell this. Like let me just get it out the door.” But we always talk about prevention versus intervention, it’s so much better to have those distribution and MAP agreements in place ahead of time so that you have something to enforce. MAP is unenforceable without an agreement.
So, again, just making and stressing the importance of you’ve got to have even you’re just starting selling on Amazon or you just sell on your website, you have got to be thinking about your long-term strategy to maintain brand equity for your brand by having MAP and distribution agreements in place as you scale and get bigger.
Yohan: Yes, for mostly young brands we work with at Amazon, we ask them, is it just a hobby or is it a full-time business? If it’s a hobby then we don’t want to work with you. If it is your full-time business, let’s get engaged and I think the brands you want to scale on retail you are correct Shan, you need to have those processes in place like MAP agreement or distribution agreements to make sure that all of us we’re all worked – are all singing the same hymn block, if that makes sense.
Shannon: Absolutely. The other thing that I want to mention is packaging because again, a lot of people who sort of view the direct consumer specialized in e-commerce, they’re just doing plain packaging that’s just to get products there.
Yohan: The white box, brown box.
Shannon: Exactly. But if you’re going into retail, the box is what they see. The packaging has to sell it. So, whatever you do invest in good quality packaging. Test your packaging. We use services like PickFu there are tons of other ones but mostly, having a really good package designer who knows and can understand what your package is going to look like, if somebody is walking down an aisle, what’s going to catch their eye? What’s going to show them the unique value propositions? What’s going to make them go “Huh, let me pick this up and check it out.” And if you fail to do that, your product is going to sit on the shelf and die.
Yohan: Yup, you have really two seconds or less to capture someone. And for some brands and some retailers, maybe you have the luxury of doing vendor funded point-of-purchase displays, right? We have a client that makes a line-up of headphones but honestly, headphones you want to demonstrate it in-store so we’re developing some point-of-purchase display for Best Buy and Brookstone and others, right? But other clients, they have a luxury of developing a POP displays to demonstrate the product so really the retail box has to be your best selling stuff of course, you can rely on the blue shirt at Best Buy or the orange vest on people. The seller product first, the – it’s really your marketing to try to build that awareness of your product and your company. And then in the in-store your packaging, they kind of like close the sale.
Shannon: Yeah, what I’m thinking is you need a little product insert that basically will either beep at the person as they walk by or like a water gun that like squirts them.
Shannon: The next thing that you’ve mentioned and brought up that is so important is having good quality assets. You have to have good quality product photos on a pure white background. Again, you’ll have Upgrade Images for that. You can ship them your products from anywhere in the world and they can give you those high resolution images that you’re going to need for retail, as well as video, especially, especially 100% if your product is the new way innovative. If it’s not just like another iPhone cable or something that, you know people get and have a general understanding and awareness of, but if it’s different or unique, people might not know how to use it, how it works, what the benefits are, video is so critical.
And so, having that video ready, not just giving them raw assets like you said, not just giving them raw assets like you said, not just giving them b-roll but a completed sales video that they can upload, add to the website or if they’ve got a display, video display is a new thing that’s coming out. Obviously, you have to work with people to be able to get that opportunity. But have those assets in place. Know what sells and Amazon again is a great place to test and get that information, so you know what works, you know what videos are effective, you know what photos are effective to sell your product. And have those ready and as you mentioned, make it very, very easy for the buyer to get those and use it.
Yohan: Yeah, just take the buyer to handpick out of a 100 images, which three to out on the website is asinine, right? So, pick – here are the exact images I want to use for the website. Here’s the copy. Here’s the video. In fact, retailers has taken out a page in Amazon’s PlayBook, they’re also doing A plus or enhanced brand content so, Best Buy they use a service called CNET to – so if you want to do A plus content right or actually any content on Best Buy is done through CNET however you want to do, enhance content on somebody’s website besides CNET, there’s another resource called SellPoints another resource that help you again improve your content on the Staples, the Best Buys, the Blend Trucks of the world, right? But they – what I’m telling is they’ve basically done a good job of helping young brands market themselves on their platform and other retailers like the Best Buy or like the Apple, like the Costco are also following suit with similar tools for brands to employ.
Shannon: …than Walmart or Target is going to give you. And so, I highly recommend Sell Point if you’re selling them on the retailers, great company. We’ll add that link below the webinar. But we found that very, very effective. Again, it’s about standing out. It’s not about getting on the platform, it’s about standing out and how do you do that through packaging, through the display and through the listing.
Shannon: And the other thing that you talked about is sell-through and I think a lot of people forget about this. They think if I could just get my product in to X store, if I could just get it into Best Buy, if I could just get it into Target. And the reality is that’s not going to do anything for you. Getting it on the shelf does not convert a single sale. You have to support sell through and again, having people be aware of that success is not getting your first PO. I know it’s a win that you can celebrate but it’s a very, very small victory. And really, like you said, the win is getting your third PO, your fourth PO, your fifth PO, generating ongoing business or relationship with those vendors and continuing to deliver great products and great value. Sell-through…
Yohan: That’s why come can hire RetailBound because that’s what we do every day. We are a channel management company. So, it’s not – while we have a large team, we have over 150 sales reps, 35 distributors all across United States and Canada. Getting the retail is not too hard relatively speaking, it’s about staying in the retail. Keeping that foot in the door, right? And most of these brands, one at a time, will experience and manage to sell in or to sell through that they outsource to us as interim to kind of manage that sell through and selling process.
Shannon: And that’s one of the things that’s so incredible about RetailBound is again we’ve tried to do this in-house in companies, it’s really difficult. You have people who aren’t trained, who don’t have the information, definitely don’t have the experience and you’re basically fumbling alone in learning as you go. The ability to make it cost-effective, to have somebody be an extension, as you mentioned, I think that’s kind of how you mentioned, an extension of your brand to handle the retail side, just absolutely phenomenal. And anybody in that situation recommends that you check out.
Yohan: Yeah, most startups again like to do themselves, right? They were making mistakes but if you want to – using the young kid’s term, you want to hack the system, right? You want to fast track your success, you are a professional. Yeah, I can probably build a deck in the backyard but it will take me the whole summer to build a deck, right?
Yohan: You know while I hire some carpenters that can be done by this weekend. So, it’s about that time. And typically for us to get – now, while we cannot guarantee that you hire us that you’ll be in retail like Best Buy tomorrow but I do guarantee you’ll get feedback from Best Buy a lot quicker than you do yourself. So typically retail – brands who work with us see feedback within one to three months in POs by then typically, right? Where it might take them you know eight to 12 months to see some romance of success, right? So, we definitely have proven to our brands that we can like a turnkey get the feedback much quicker than they can do themselves. That’s the beauty of RetailBound.
Shannon: Which is exactly what we do for Amazon, so brands go “Great. We want to – we know we want to sell on Amazon, let’s get on Amazon.” And they can spend hours, weeks, months, years trying to do that themselves, trying to figure it out or they can just hire us and we can get up and running. Once you come and see us, we’re going to send you to RetailBound. So, Amazon and beyond.
The other thing that you mentioned is unique value proposition. Again, Amazon is a great testing ground because you have the ability to update your product features, you have the ability to update your images, you have the ability to comb through your product reviews as well as your competitor’s product reviews and see what works. That gives you real raw data that you can then take and say, here’s our unique value proposition. When we added this image, when we added this product feature, or we added this to our title, sales increased by this percentage. We know that this is what gets customer attention and you’re able to present that in a way that really makes sense and you know will benefit the buyer.
Yohan: Yup, you are correct my friend, 100%.
Shannon: You also mentioned you have returns and metrics, have that information ready top of hand. We had a company I was working with. We had investors come in. We did a whole pitch. And he said, “You know, by the way, what’s your return rate?” And off the top of my head, I knew that exact percentage to the hundredth decimal of our return rate. Why? Because it’s so valuable information and if we have to like go online and like dig that up or look through it, again, it looks like you’re not prepared because you’re not prepared. You have to have all of your metrics, know what they are, have them in front of you readily available.
Yohan: Yeah, how are sales, how are returns, what’s the current pricing today? You know besides Amazon, where is your product featured and what is the – we call it the street prices? Is it really $19.99 or is it $12.99? And good, it’s very easy for buyers to step on their browser and say, “OK, hey, I see Yohan.com is selling it for $9.99, $10 for Amazon, what the heck? Right?
Shannon: Yeah, I mean so you know we’ll wrap it up in a second. The last thing I had is in terms of EDI I know a lot of retailers are going to require EDI, and to your point, there may be some opportunities or situations where our brands wants to go direct to retailers. In some cases, it’s going to be much more effective to go through a distributor because they have those integrations in place and you’re not going to have to build them out. It can be incredibly expensive and time-consuming from first-hand experience to go ahead and do that. So, having those…
Yohan: Like for Fry’s we go direct using an EDI profile like SPS Commerce is probably one of the better ones out there.
Yohan: Like a typically young brand will use a distributor because you’re right, the distributor have the EDI capabilities, even some 3PLs have EDI capabilities as well. So, in your research maybe a distributor or your 3PL has EDI capability versus you outsource it to a company like SPS which is like you said, it’s a little more expensive especially if it’s only one retailer, right? And it’s hard to amortize the cost from.
Shannon: So, this is what I want to leave our listeners and viewers with. The biggest thing and the biggest key takeaway of everything that you’ve mentioned is reframing and shifting this perspective of. It’s about me versus you, right? So, a lot of people, I mean it’s just almost default, we go in and we go, “Here’s how I need you to help me. I need you to buy my product in put them to your store. I need you to do this. I need, I need, I need.” Instead, the frame of reference is, “Here’s how I can help you. You’re trying to getting new customers. You’re trying to generate sale. You’re trying to beat competitors. I can help you do that because we’ve got a product that is incredible.”
And I think to your point. When I first started speaking, I really didn’t know how to write a pitch email for an event. And so, I wrote an initial draft that was like I love the opportunity and it would be great to build this for my resume, that kind of thing. And when the marketing people that I work with was like, “No, no, no. Rewrote the whole thing of I’ve got six years experience on Amazon. I’m very qualified. I’ve got tons of great content that I think would be great for your audience.” It was 100% switching that mentality and sold it. And so again, make the buyer your focus. How you can help them because them trying to help you is looking at it a totally backward.
So anyways, Yohan thank you again so much for being on. Again, visit RetailBound.com. You can reach out to Yohan as well. All that information will be below the video. And thanks again for joining us.