Archive | August, 2013

Featured Buyer Profile: “Buyers want to see products that are new and different”

22 Aug

Buyerly Babble will regularly feature one of the retail buyers in the Buyerly network to give an inside peek into the mind of a buyer.  We think you’ll enjoy getting to know their personalities and what makes them tick…as well as their impressive retail experience!

We’ll also feature Retailer (Store) Profiles in future postings!

Retail Buyer Profile

Buyer ID: 833

Industry experience: 14 years

Retailer experience: Mass Merch Stores, Dollar Stores

Primary decision-making authority:  Yes.

Product Category experience:  Personal Care, Beauty, Home, Holiday, Baby.

Favorite color:  Orange

Favorite print/pattern:  I love chevron.  I know, it’s so trendy.

Who would you give the Product of the Year award to?  It’s not a consumable product in the traditional sense, but I recently had Blockheads Snow Cream in LA and I can’t get it off my mind.  http://www.blockheadsla.com/  Package this stuff up in a box for the freezer aisle, and I’ll make sure it gets into stores!

Why did you join the Buyerly Buyer Panel?  To get the first glimpse at new product launches.  And I enjoy helping small companies.

What is your favorite store to shop at?  I love Anthropologie. It’s such a treasure hunt – and full of surprises.  Their merchandise displays are gorgeous and the products so unique but not to far out there.  Fred Segal is fun for similar reasons. I enjoy wandering through their different boutiques-within-a-boutique.

What advice do you have for the consumer companies on Buyerly?  We [retail buyers] want to see products that are new and different.  It doesn’t have to be completely groundbreaking. It can be as simple as a reinvention of something already ubiquitous. It just has to offer features or benefits you can’t get elsewhere. And you must MUST provide an explanation for how your company can deliver those unique features and benefits better than anyone else.  And your plans to prevent copycats from introducing something similar.

Favorite holiday season:  Halloween!  I love dressing up…my dog!

Featured Founder Profiles: Stacy Harfert, Bobee

20 Aug
Founder Profile Stacy Harfert

Stacy Harfert, Founder of Bobee

Buyerly Babble will regularly feature company founders and their experiences achieving retail success.  Interested in contributing your story?  Contact us!

Founder: Stacy Harfert, owner and inventor

Company: Bobee Diaper & Wipe Dispenser

URL: http://www.bobeeinc.com

Large Retailers: Buy Buy Baby, Amazon

Career before becoming an entrepreneur:  Sales

Connect with her on Linked In:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/stacyharfert

Bobee Diaper and Wipes Dispenser

Bobee Diaper and Wipes Dispenser

Q: What was the inspiration behind starting your company?

Stacy: My inspiration is smart product design making mom’s life easier. I had a problem and that was being able to organize my diapers and wipes in a small space. I came up with the Bobee, a diaper and wipe dispenser solution. If you have had a newborn and you change diapers in the middle of the night while the lights are off, you fumble around looking for a diaper while not spilling everything off the changing table, let alone doing this with one hand. Through interviews of moms and dads, product testing, and positive feedback, I was so encouraged to keep going! As a result I now produce the Bobee Diaper and Wipe Dispenser, a wall-mounted diaper and wipe caddy.

Q: What do you consider your biggest success to date?

Stacy: My biggest success to date is winning the Huggies MomInspired Grant. $15,000 of seed money enabled me to design and produce retail packaging and bring the Bobee to the retail market. Huggies brought the 2011 class of nine winners to the ABC Kids Show spring conference, the baby industry’s leading trade show, and put us in front of media and buyers. My product was so well received I walked away with orders, sales reps interested in carrying the Bobee in their lineup, and a distributor who is interested in bringing the Bobee nationwide.

Q: What advice do you have for budding product entrepreneurs?

Stacy: There are a lot of things I wish I had done to prepare for the future but just didn’t have the knowledge until I had the experience. One of the best investments I made in my company and to give me the tools to succeed on a large scale was to hire a retail consultant that had experience in areas that I did not. Creating a retailer distribution strategy and roadmap has structured my company for the future success of Bobee.

Unusual Ways to Get An Appointment with a Buyer

19 Aug

Chasing a buyer

A buyer would feel guilty asking an unknown vendor to get on a plane to meet with them, but if you tell them you’ll be there anyways on other business, a buyer is more likely to agree to meet.  So, if you plan to be in the city in which the buying office is located, call and email ahead of time to let the buyer you will be in town on those specific dates.  Then try one of the following tactics:

(Don’t do them all, unless you want to be a nuisance!)

Option 1: Request a 30-minute meeting at a nearby coffee shop or at their office. Perfect for retail buyers you’ve never talked to before or is a complete stranger to you.

Option 2: If the buyer tells you their schedule is packed all day, suggest lunch. Offer to meet over lunch at a nearby restaurant. Nothing over-the-top expensive, but it shouldn’t be TGI Fridays, either.  This option is best used if you have some relationship with this buyer already, either through a mutual acquaintance or referral.

 I call the next one the “hail mary pass”.   Football fans, you know what I mean.

Option 3:  Offer to bring the showroom to them.  I had one vendor rent a hotel ballroom across the street and invite me to their traveling showroom.  Notice I did not say hotel guestroom.  That would be creepy.  The traveling showroom was located squarely between my office and the parking garage, so they made it convenient for me to drop by after work on the way to my car.  And did I go? I sure did.  I was curious!

Tips for navigating the Buyerly site

17 Aug

Last updated: Aug 29

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Audience: Buyers and Users

Section: Creating an account

Status: In process of fixing

Known issue:  Facebook login is not working when users and buyers attempt to create an account

Solution:  Please create an account using the email username and password option.

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Audience: Buyers

Section:  Product Profile Feedback Form

Status: In process of adding a “Save” button

Known issue:  Question: Can we save the form in-progress and return to finish it later?

Solution:  Answer: To save your partially completed form, select “Submit”.  This will save your responses until you return to complete the form – even if you log out.

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Audience: Buyers and Product Owners

Section:  Dashboard

Status: In progress

Known issue:  Once users log in, it is not clear how to access the Dashboard

Solution:  To access the Dashboard: After logging in, select “Home” in the upper left hand corner to view your Dashboard.

Buyerly is live!

16 Aug

buyerly-wordpress-header.jpg

Buyerly is now live.  Wander on over to our site and check it out.  Let us know what you think!

We have a lot planned in the coming weeks – both for this blog and the website.  You can expect to see new content on this blog, in addition to some of the meaty and cool stuff that you’ve come to love.

Like what?

  • Mystery Buyer profiles… so you can get to learn more about the kinds of buyers we have on our Product Feedback buyer panel and shopping the Product Closet.
  • Founder features… that profile some of our customers and their cool products
  • Retailer spotlights…featuring some of the small retailers that shop in the Product Closet.
  • Behind the scenes look...at what it’s like working for Buyerly and in a start-up environment!

And like always, we’ll give you tips on how to find retail success, highlight products we love, share big retail industry trends that you should know about.

Stick around…things are only getting bigger from here!

Coming to you live…TODAY

15 Aug

Buyerly goes live.  Today.

If you signed up for a beta invite, you’ll be getting an email shortly with instructions on how to start using Buyerly.  Plus, a little gift as a token of our appreciation for your patience and support.

For now, here is a sneak preview of the big reveal.  What do you think?

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Buyerly is for retail buyers and product companies

Product companies, retail buyers ~ all benefit from Buyerly

Product development research

Product owners, is this how launching a product can feel sometimes?
Buyers, seeing an upswing of poorly executed products and vendor presentations?

Buyerly provides a platform to help both emerging brands and retail buyers do what they do…but better!

Buyerly provides a platform to help both emerging brands and retail buyers do what they do…but better!

 

Is STORY The Future Of Brick And Mortar Retailing?

8 Aug

story

You’ve heard it.  Grumblings of the grim future of brick and mortar retailing and a future spent navigating an Amazon-sized jungle.

Well not so fast, shoponline dot com! Brick and mortars are fighting back. Starting with an innovative concept called STORY.

STORY, located in New York City, represents a new twist on the shopping experience.  It’s like Ikea (and their approach to merchandising and browsing) on steroids.  Just like its name suggests, STORY approaches retailing with a…wait for it… story-telling  point of view much like you find in a magazine.  Plus the products they feature are curated to not only fit their narrative themes but to also showcase emerging brands and unique products.  To keep things fresh (and encourage shoppers to return), STORY rotates their “stories” often.

The lesson here is that retailers, more than ever, can differentiate themselves from their online competitors with a branded shopping experience.  B&M retailers’ fight for survival will largely depend on how well they can channel their brand identity to create and execute their branded point of view.  For product companies, how do your product lines help B&M retailers create that differentiation from online retailers? You must incorporate that message in your retail pitches.

What do you think? Is this the future of brick and mortar retailing?

 

Meeting With The Buyer? Avoid These 5 Common Mistakes

4 Aug

5 mistakes to avoid:

1. Don’t fail to walk through the store one last time.  And Google everything you can about that retailer. Buyers want do business with representatives that are knowledgeable about both their store and their business.  And it  is painfully obvious when a potential vendor hasn’t done their homework on the store or merchandise assortment or other retailers.  Don’t be clueless about the retailer’s strategy and priorities, pricing, assortment, competitive set, store organization, timelines, and jargon. Establishing credibility is important, and this is the easiest way to influence how buyers perceive you.

2. Don’t inflate volume or sales forecasts. Be accurate. Base it on sales history.  It will *not* impress a buyer to see a high sales forecast if you can’t back it up with reasonable assumptions. If you feel self-conscious about your low forecast, bolster it  with a proposal for how you will grow those sales (marketing support, in-store promotions, etc.) and what sales lift that marketing activity will generate.

3. Don’t squander your time.  If you have 30-minutes, plan for the meeting to start 5 minutes late after introductions and pleasantries, then earmark 15 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for interruptions/Q&A. That allotted time will be over faster than you expect, so be prepared. Use tools to make presenting more efficient (e.g., Retailer Pitch Deck, One-page executive summary, mock-up POS displays and samples, etc.)

4.  Don’t forget to discuss how your brand will drive retailer’s needs. Address how your brand drives sales, profitability and foot traffic in that retailer’s stores.  I can’t tell you how many times vendors (the not-so-savvy ones) tell buyers “Your store will do x, y, and z for my product.” No way. Tell buyers what your product will do for their stores.

5. Not listening! Know when to talk, when to shut up, and when to back away. Constantly badgering the buyer to hear your point is not going to win you points. Know how to accept “no” or “not now”, probe and listen to the reasons why, and then ask for another chance. Don’t get defensive and try to change the buyer’s mind in that same meeting. Come back to that buyer once you’ve considered and incorporated their feedback. It shows you listen, have strong communication skills and would make a good business partner.