There’s been an accelerated pace of change in retail, especially since Amazon acquired Whole Foods. As a producer, navigating product into stores can be made easier with a strong sales presentation.
Peter Chapman, a retail marketer and consultant at SKUFoods in Nova Scotia, offered some advice and insight from his recent webinar. It was aimed at helping Canadian producers achieve the best results during sales meetings with category managers.
He says “new food success” isn’t about making (or growing) great products to sell, it’s about selling the great products you make. “We see so often where people get focused on what they’re doing to produce the product, or to get it into the package – all important and challenging things that have to be done – but they don’t follow through to the end. In this marketplace, you can’t just make things and expect them to sell. There’s competition from all over.”
These days produce departments don’t change seasonally like they used to. Local produce is in stores when it’s in season but consumers expect to have things available 12 months a year.
Communicating the right time to promote a product is also important. Part of communication comes from successfully holding meetings with category managers, which was the topic of Chapman’s recent webinar. What goes into crafting a great presentation? He says it’s researching the customer, to understand the store, its format, and the category manager too.
“Category managers are people, and they’re all different. Plan your strategy and outline the three things you want to accomplish. Some people try to accomplish too much, and you don’t get anything done. Try to pick three things and next time you can discuss something else,” Chapman explains.
Having a sales plan for your product is something he says most producers don’t think about. There’s a lot of focus on the importance of growing and getting a product to the store or warehouse but then thinking the job is done. “But that’s not the way it works,” Chapman says. It’s important to see the product through until the customer picks it up and puts it in their shopping cart.
“In certain commodities, it can be more difficult when you’re one of many suppliers,” he says. “The ones who are successful have always been doing this. For those of us in the produce department, we're the last ones to think about these things. Unfortunately sometimes on the commodity side, we get frustrated because we’re losing to packaged goods.” He says those are often the items with strong branding and solid sales strategies.
It’s the role of the producer regardless of geography to help the retailer sell the product. “The reality is that the category manager's task is to drive sales and profit. The people who come in and are well prepared to play their role in that, no matter where they’re from, they’re going to get more opportunities.”