Skills Modern Buyers/Merchandisers Need To Be Top Perfomers [Podcast Ep13]

Skills Modern Buyers/Merchandisers Need To Be Top Perfomers [Podcast Ep13]


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Before I get into our main topic, let me answer a common question…

“What should a good RFQ supplier communication look like?”

Here are a few pointers:

Your first email should be simple and clear

Don’t be long-winded the first time you reach out.

It’s like when you see someone you fancy at a bar, you don’t just walk up and say, “let’s get married, I want you to have my children and live happily ever after.”

No…you want to spend some time getting to know them first, even if it’s clear from the beginning they’re the one for you.

“Can you please send me your catalog? I’d like to choose some products and possibly get a quotation. By the way, this is our company and this is what we do.”

Two to three lines. Short, simple, and sweet.

Or you can say,

“I found your product online. Here’s what we do. I’d like more information. Can you send me a quote?”

It’s doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.

Otherwise, you won’t get many responses.

Get the information in the format that’s readily available to them

Manufacturers often have their own product sheets and quotations ready and waiting.

That’s the easiest way for them to get that information to you.

The minute you start asking for custom quotations or a custom format, it just makes them take longer to get back to you…

And until you have a relationship, it’s not the easiest thing to get done.

Talk about your buying power

After the 2nd or 3rd communication, I recommend sharing your buying power to let them know who they’re dealing with.

Now, I start that off by understanding their MOQ (minimum order quantity) expectations.

Try to find out whether there are ways to get a lower MOQ if you needed it…whether there’s a price surcharge, and things like that.

Share your brand vision

You don’t need to go into a long explanation here.

Just give them your one-minute elevator pitch.

That’s all you need.

Match your ideas with reality ASAP

A key point is to understand what’s feasible and what’s not.

They’re the manufacturer and they know their production capabilities.

They’ll tell you what they can and can’t do.

The sooner you can find out about manufacturing limitations, or the supplier’s limitations, and the costs involved in producing the product…

The sooner your ideas will match reality.

Because your RFQ is really just an expectation of what you want, and what you want to pay for it.

It’s doesn’t necessarily mean you can get that.

So, you need to have simple, bite-sized communications to quickly establish some of these factors that’ll affect the price and ability to manufacture the product.

Refine your RFQ

Once you’ve got these important data up-front, now you can update and refine your RFQ.

And get into deeper, more detailed conversations with your supplier.

So, to summarize…

Here’s what a good RFQ communication looks like:

  • Keep your emails short and simple
  • Get the info you need in their standard format
  • Talk about your buying power
  • Share your brand vision
  • Figure out what they can actually produce (vs. what’s in your head)
  • Refine your RFQ before getting into deeper conversations

On to our main topic…

Has the skill set of a good buyer or merchandiser changed?

I think they’ve changed a lot.

Now, more than ever, buyers and merchandisers need to be creative.

They need to be astute and aware of what influences customers and trends, because they help with making sales and conversions.

Little things like being able to use online/digital tools to analyze data and make fast decisions are more important than ever.

These days, I tend to look at buyers and merchandisers as mini-entrepreneurs.

They need to process so much information, solve so many different problems…

That’s why they’re so many stories of individuals and small businesses going out there and out-competing big retailers.

Because they’re just better at making fast, accurate decisions.

In the past, big companies had the advantage of controlling the supply chain and distribution channels.

It didn’t matter how good of a buyer you were, or whether you could find the best products, because if you didn’t have a sales team and distribution network, you couldn’t sell them.

With e-commerce and online business, those barriers to entry have evaporated.

A child on his laptop, in his bedroom, has access to Amazon FBA fulfillment centers worldwide.

They’ve got access to online marketplaces at the touch of a button.

So you’ve got global sales and distribution, marketing, and advertising, all at your fingertips.

Now, in order to stay competitive, your product selection…

Your ability to understand your market…

And your ability to differentiate from your competition…

Are more critical than ever.

Building the right buying teams

Building a team with complementary skills is essential once you get to the enterprise/corporate (or even medium-sized business) level.

Finding one person with all the skills needed to be a top buyer is rare.

What this does is allow your team to make these fast, high-quality, creative decisions at scale.

High stakes, high reward.

And that’s something solopreneurs and small teams can’t do.

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