The average pet retailer usually negotiates the best discounts and prices they can with their distributor of choice. Savvy retailers also keep track of retail pricing in their home market and on the internet so they can do their best to stay competitive and hopefully grow their business.
So what’s missing from the above formula for growth? The vendor (manufacturer).
Recently at a distributor open house, I had a retailer ask if he bought 100, 2 ounce starter size Cricket Total Bites (a cricket gutload and water product) would I give him 36 free? He went on to say that if I agreed, he would discount the starter size heavily and promote the product in his store.
As the vendor’s rep, I instantly said yes, not even having to check with my vendor, because the cost of doing this was negligible and the outcome for the vendor was positive. Most pet stores sell tons of crickets, and a program like that would reach a lot of consumers.
Think what this retailer accomplished in that brief exchange.
Everything was already on sale at the distributor’s event at great discounts, and he worked an added value promotion with me that gave him more advertising/promotional power, just because he had a viable program that my vendor would certainly approve.
Imagine walking the whole event like that, not just getting the discounts, eating a free lunch and then going home, but instead making added value deals all day long, in which all parties involved make more sales.
Some distributors have a catalog of vendor programs available, including initial stocking order, also known as ISO, and co-op advertising programs, but some don’t. Even for those who do, are the lists up to date? What about manufacturers who don’t have an official ISO or co-op ad program?
I bring these questions to the table because I know from many years of experience that even vendors who currently have no programs might be interested in participating if it makes sense and they see value in it for all parties involved.
Retailers can directly contact vendors who sell to their distributors. You would be surprised at the vendor opportunities that are available to retailers in ISO deals, co-op advertising programs and added value promotions direct from the manufacturer and approved by distributors.
Crafting your own store ISO and co-op ad program means that you’re halfway to getting discounts or advertising dollars to promote your business, and also give your customers a great deal on products to keep them coming back. In the worst case scenario, the vendor you contact may say no, but with a program in hand you just increased your odds of working with the vendor of your choice by 50 percent.
Most dog food companies have these types of programs and many pet retailers take advantage of them, but what about other branded products that are not readily available in the big box stores or on-line?
Those are the special products that can differentiate the independent pet retailer from chains that carry less depth and variety, giving consumers a reason to shop your store.
Once you make your deal, you can usually spend the money or discount in a way best suited for your needs. Co-op ad money can go toward discounts to your customers, and if you have a successful store Facebook page with lots of followers, a good email newsletter list or even a developed direct mailing list from past customer visits to your store, you’re ahead of the game.
If your program is detailed and specific dollars have been assigned to specific outcomes, most manufacturers will participate, even ones that don’t have official programs, giving you variety and uniqueness that sets you apart.
Like the retailer at the beginning of this article, think about your needs and products. Be prepared to negotiate with the vendor (manufacturer) so everyone benefits from your special programs. Make new friends and add new customers while enjoying increased sales.
– RD Webster is an associate/partner of Market Strategies, an independent rep group which covers all 50 states.