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Everything you need to know about buyers
Buyers’ priorities are to develop ranges that meet the business objectives of their company, to meet their customers' needs and to achieve sales.
- To justify purchases through sales results and meeting objectives.
- Market analysis - to identify changes in spending and consumer patterns.
- Trend analysis – to predict months and even years in advance so as to identify future trends.
- Merchandise and space planning – to know when the stock will arrive and how it will look in the store.
- Stock control - both costs and volume, not to overspend on new ranges but to keep shelves full.
- Product range development – to find a balance between continuity and providing something new.
- To meet customers’ ongoing and increasing needs; to research what customers are looking for.
(Courtesy of Fiona Elliott)
- Will my customers buy it?
- Can I modify the design?
- What are the lead times?
Is it affordable?
- Can the designer produce and manufacture adequate quantities? Is there capacity for reordering?
- Will it fit into the planned look?
- Is the designer competent and professional?
- Can I buy it cheaper from an existing supplier /source?
How to approach the buyer
- Find out the buyer’s name and position.
- Make contact by either telephone or letter.
- Make an appointment to present your work.
- Return all telephone calls.
- Research the business; go into the shop if possible and see what is selling, who is buying and how much they spend.
- Find out what the retail mark-up is, and communicate your current retail prices, so you can maintain a constant market value for your work.
- Never ask the buyer to price your work.
- Research - know the benefits that your product can provide to that specific buyer.
- Ensure that your products are suitable for retail, meeting safety and other standards; include care instructions, guarantees and other relevant information.
- Remember that the customer is usually looking for something different.
- Make a professional presentation.
- If using samples, ensure that the samples are perfect. Don’t think they are just samples; they reflect your best capabilities and the buyers will pull them apart. Samples must be nothing less than perfect.
- Know your facts (e.g. costing, pricing, lead times, design process, material). Do not bluff.
- Know your bottom line in pricing - don’t go beneath it, and try not to be bullied or pressured into agreeing terms of which you are unsure. If you are not sure about something, ask for time to get back to the buyer with further details.
- Agree all terms in writing, including price, lead times, payment details, quantities. Prepare a checklist or an agenda before you go into a meeting.
- Ensure that there are no hidden terms, e.g. exclusivity.
- If a buyer wants exclusivity, consider this carefully. (One alternative could be to produce a new range specifically for the client.) Keep in contact with the buyer - if a lead-time is 3 months, keep the buyer informed that you are dealing with the order and that all is fine.
- Follow up the meeting with a letter confirming what was agreed.
- Do what you have agreed, put it in writing and sign a contract. Warning: buyers can feel like your best friend, but they can also be very ruthless.
- SOR (sale or return) - you often pay for the return and wait months for your goods.
- Deliver on time; there are often penalties for late delivery.
- Deliver the correct quantity.
- Ensure quality control of orders going out, especially if working with sub-contractors and delegating production processes.
- Contact the buyer after delivery to check that everything is fine.
- If you are having problems meeting a deadline, tell the buyer immediately; do not stick your head in the sand.
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