Pop quiz, everyone.

How do buyers feel about new products?

A. They’re amazing! They bring a needed zing to existing assortments!
B. Ugh, they’re a pain. So many required steps to get them on shelf, and it’s not the most scintillating process.
C. I’m lacing up my running shoes because these new products are so great we’re chasing inventory! I’m tapping every pipeline I can think of to get more!
D. I’m switching careers and becoming an acrobat, because it’s going to take some serious logistical gymnastics to get rid of the five-year-supply of this dud product.

If you answered any or all of the above, congratulations, you just aced this quiz! A buyer runs the spectrum of emotions when it comes to new products (though for sure he or she tries to avoid answer “D” at all costs).

For buyers, newness is exciting, it’s engaging–but it’s also a process. That’s something suppliers need to keep in mind when bringing products to market. While your excitement about your product can be infectious and help push that buyer toward bringing it into the assortment, take a step back and put yourself in the buyer’s shoes: You have this new product. Now what do you do with it? As the supplier, take a look at your plan for going forward. Where in that plan can you help make the buyer’s job a little easier (and therefore more apt to feel positive when bringing on your product, rather than as if it’s a burden)? If you’re not sure, share your thoughts with the buyer, and, in return, be open to suggestions. Understand that all of the knowledge about your product that you bring to the table can help pave a smooth path to the consumer. Starting–and continuing–these conversations is one of the first and most beneficial ways you can lay the groundwork for a happy and long-lasting buyer-supplier relationship.

As a supplier with a new product, you have got to be a partner to your buyer. There are no one-way streets–you don’t stop the work once your product is picked up. In fact, that’s when the work truly begins. That’s when your inside-out knowledge of your product will be put to the test. Be able to answer both the factual and existential questions: How much does your product cost? Why does your product exist? Who will buy your product? How will you tell the world about your product?

“As a supplier with a new product, you have got to be a partner to your buyer.”And once your product is in stores, you need to understand every detail, the absolute minutiae, of how your product will move from idea to shelf. Because once your product is incorporated into a store’s mix, your customers–both buyers and in-store consumers–will expect it to be there when they want and need it. So how will you manufacture your product? Does it adhere to government regulations? If not, how are you going to fix that–once, and only once–so it’s not an obstacle going forward? How are you going to get the full order shipped on time, every time, to your retail customers?

Have your plan in place for all of these things. And then make sure you draw up a Plan B. And a Plan C, for good measure. With a plan in place you’re more likely to ward off your buyer from feeling “B” or “D” from our quiz above.

So, I fudged a little in my last post–there is no way to “read the buyer’s mind.” But if you have a plan in place, can detail the ins and outs of your product, and can put yourself in the buyer’s shoes, your chances of success are that much higher.

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