Monthly Archives: September 2009

How to Get Retail Buyers on Your Side

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woman-w-jewelry-laptop-blogby Tex Dworkin

“Attention Wholesalers: How to Get Retail Buyers on Your Side”

Buyers are the gatekeepers who determine whether your products end up on retail shelves. So you want to do all you can to win them over and develop a mutually beneficial, long term business relationship. Here are some tips to increase your chances for success:

1.      Leave pop-ins for Seinfeld. For those who are familiar with the TV show Seinfeld, you know that Jerry’s friends are always popping by uninvited. Retail buyers are busy folks; before showing up with a bag full of samples and stopping buyers in their work tracks, do your homework to make sure they are open to pop-ins. Otherwise you risk starting off on the wrong foot. Some have designated times allotted for vendor visits. Taking the time to find this out will win you points in the game of selling.

2.      Regular Check-ins can be helpful. As a buyer, I didn’t mind getting calls or emails from wholesalers checking in to see how my stock was doing. In fact, I appreciated periodic check-ins, and they often turned into new sales for wholesale vendors I worked with.

The folks at Ganesh Himal (http://www.ganeshhimaltrading.com/) have done a great job with this; when I was a Fair Trade Online Store buyer (http://www.globalexchangestore.org/), I would get occasional calls from them just checking in to see if I needed anything. Sometimes they were on my list of orders to place, I just hadn’t gotten around to it. So being able to rattle off a quick order over the phone helped me scratch another item off my to-do list, and gained Ganesh Himal a new order and my gratitude.

3.      Always ask if this is a good time: If you do decide to call a buyer, start the conversation off with “is this a good time for you to talk.” If they say no, ask them when a good time would be for you to contact them.

4.      Email overload: One of my biggest pet peeves as a buyer was receiving unsolicited emails from potential vendors, with huge product image files attached that clogged my inbox. It was a nuisance that immediately set me off. So avoid emailing large files unless buyers specifically request them. It’s never a good idea to inconvenience someone you’re trying to sell to.

5.      Make it easy for buyers to buy from you. Make sure to list pricing in the buyer’s currency. Requiring buyers to figure out the exchange rate to determine what your wholesale prices are is an avoidable inconvenient extra step for buyers. Your goal is to make it easy for them to buy from you.

6.      Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. This probably goes without saying, but if you make an appointment with a buyer, do not be late; if you say you’re going to call at a certain time, then do so; if you say you’re going to send something, then send it right away. This will help buyers see you as a professional, dependable wholesaler and help build trust between you.

7.      Ask buyers what their preferences are. You’re not a mind reader. What appeals to one buyer may not appeal to another. So consider asking buyers questions like:

  • How and when do you prefer to be contacted?
  • Do you prefer receiving photo images via email, CD, or some other method?
  • Would a sample of our product(s) help your buying decision?
  • What types of products are you actively seeking to add to your product line?
  • When do you do your buying and when is the best time to contact you about our new product offerings.

8. Keep track of retail buyer preferences.

Most importantly, once you’ve gathered vital buyer information, enter notes about their preferences into your database and follow up accordingly.

For example, if a buyer agrees to be contacted twice per year via phone to check on stock levels, insert that into your calendar and set up an auto reminder. When the day arrives, you’re “calling to follow up as requested.” It’s about being organized so your buyers don’t have to be. Most buyers will be impressed by your professionalism and you’ll end up a step closer to developing a valuable new business relationship.

The bottom line:

Do what you can to make it easy for buyers to buy from you, and watch your sales grow!

I’d love to hear from other retail buyers about this…What advice can you share with wholesalers? Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to working with wholesale vendors? What are some of the things your favorite vendors have done to win you over?

Holy Joe’s Cafe Ministry

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holy-joes-blog

Photo Courtesy of Holy Joe’s Ministry

by Jacqueline DeCarlo

Last week, Cheryl-a leader at SERRV (http://serrv.org) which began as a faith-based organization-mused in a blog comment about how “action which grows from spiritual understanding” is part of the Fair Trade movement today.  One effort that comes to mind is the “Holy Joe’s Café” ministry (http://holyjoescafe.blogspot.com/).

Thomas Jastermsky, of the First Congregational Church in Connecticut where the project started, reached out to me at Catholic Relief Services (http://crsfairtrade.org) knowing that CRS’s partner Equal Exchange (http://www.equalexchange.coop/interfaith-program) was involved in Holy Joe’s.

Tom is a big believer not only in God but also of supporting U.S. troops!  Since 2006 Holy’s Joe’s has helped 405 military chaplains provide a Coffee House ministry to troops in 120 locations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. Chaplain Peter St. Martin says “Coffee has the effect of making the chaplain’s space a nice place to hang out.  It is in these moments that God and I do our best work, I believe: in casual conversation with no specific agenda and before the burden someone is carrying has erupted into real trouble.”

Organizations such as United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church, and the United Methodist Church are involved. Congregations donate coffee to the ministry and in turn chaplains create a coffee house atmosphere so troops can relax, talk with a chaplain, or just get a good cup of coffee.  If your community is interested in putting its faith into action, get more information at 888-970-7994 or contact Tom via email: HolyJoesCafe “at” aol.com

If you have more examples of the old adage “faith works wonders” please comment below.

Number of FT Banana Farmers Decreases by 40% in Dominica

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As the cost of producing bananas rises, many farmers in Dominica are turning away from Fair Trade as they are failing to earn high enough profits.  Last year, there were over six hundred farmers selling Fair Trade bananas, but now that number has decreased to three hundred and fifty farmers.  Many feel the drop in farmers is the result of the global market and not the fault of the National Fairtrade Organization.  The farmers are in need of greater support and assistance to reduce costs and increase prices.  See the full story in Dominica News Online.

Indiana FT Business Opens 3rd Store

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This week, a new branch of Global Gifts opened its doors in Bloomington, Indiana.  The grand opening celebration is soon to follow on September 11th and 12th (10 am to 8 pm).  Festivities will include free fair trade coffee and chocolate samples, live music and a 10% discount on all merchandise.  Volunteers were a major component to building this store and will continue to be essential, since the store will be mostly staffed by volunteers.  Global Gifts is not only a store to find a variety of Fair Trade goods, but will also host events to explain the Fair Trade philosophy, including an artisan from Kenya who will demonstrate her artistic techniques and discuss how she has benefitted from fair trade practices in October.  More details in full story.

Global Gifts at www.globalgiftsindy.com/