Merchant Tip: Vendors as Personal Consultants

In an earlier blog, I commented that bullying your vendors is not a synergistic business paradigm (see Nov 29th blog). Win / Win is the highest form of cooperation and this blog builds on that philosophy.

Vendor’s are SME (Subject Matter Experts).  Don’t think you have to know it all; there’s too many competitors, listings and programs out there and likely your portfolio is huge. 

So here’s how I would position it to vendors: “I’m new to the category. But good news! I’m hiring! And you are getting a new title to boot…you’re a Personal Consultant!”

Enlisting Vendors to educate you, including: plant tours, product tastings (always fun) and conduct complete business reviews will grow your category and personal knowledge.

Vendor Personal Consultants, ask them the following:
– Line listing – do I have your top skus for MY business? Which ones should I delist (they don’t like but that’s ok)
– Am I promoting right items at the right times?
– Are my retails competitive? Ie you do the market research!
– How much money is there in the pot for me to promote your items? Ie how much will you invest?
– What listings can we create together such that I have ‘exclusivity’ for these listings?
– Create a planogram for me based upon Consumer Behaviour shopping habits

Engage your vendors. Hold them accountable. Work together.

When you do business reviews (at least quarterly), review the sales. If the results are bad, they can only look to themselves and their recommended programs. Good vendors are happy to do this consultation; bad vendors don’t want to do the work nor want that accountability.
Strategic and effective, Vendor Personal Consultants are a great way to go. But wait! There is still the best part! Its FREE and unlike other consultants, Vendors have to stick around and LIVE the results.  And if they don’t get the results?  Well you’ve done your due diligence and can comfortably source a vendor that will grow your business.


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