We recently had a members-only online hangout with buyer Sharon Zhen, who has worked for notable retailers like Anthropologie, Apple and Disney Store. She gave some great advice about how to position yourself to get the attention of buyers and get them to pick up your product. Here are a few highlights from that hangout.
What does a buyer do? Look for what's cool and fresh so they can bring those products to the retailer they work for. They are also budget focused because they are given a certain amount of money they can spend on the season they buying for. When they see something they like they can work with the company that makes it to purchase it wholesale.
What are buyers looking for? More than anything a story to tell with the product. It should have some sort of meaning and that story should be defensible. Which is why many buyers love working with handmade businesses. They also love things that are exclusive, even if it is just particular color or other slight variation of a product.
What are other reasons a buyer moves forward with a vendor? It's the right price. An authentic relationship has been built. Good communication and follow up.
What are typical mistakes you see by potential vendors? Over promising and under delivering. Product that doesn't have a story. Product that isn't unique.
What do you like to see in line sheets and catalogs? Great photos, prices (ranges are OK), ordering minimums, color and body options, if you are open to exclusives.