Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Importance of having the Entire Product Catalogue Visible To Buyers

I was able to meet for dinner with the head of sales at Real Foods Company on Friday night. We had a fascinating conversation discussing how important it is for manufacturers of food products to have their entire catalogue visible and available to buyers in 2009.

“You know Matt, I am always amazed at my meetings with buyers from different retail grocery chains. I work really hard to discover their needs and then put together sales presentations that speak to those needs. But regardless of how much preparation I do, there is always something that I have that they are looking for that gets missed.

I was reminded of it again this week, when I hosted a buyer at our manufacturing facility. We were producing another order while we did the walk through together, and they saw the product, and told me that they had been looking for a product just like that for months.
It just goes to show that you can never completely meet a buyers needs. This is encouraging. But at the same time, it is rare that a buyer ever has time to come to our facility and see our entire product line. This week I sold several extra products, simply because the buyer saw our entire catalogue.

I think in 2009, as everyone is really trying to pinpoint the needs of customers and find a place for their products, it is simply that much more important for manufacturers to have their entire catalogue available and to find new creative ways to intrigue buyers enough to look through them.

Looks like it is going to be an interesting year. It seems that there is still plenty of room for so many of the great products out there, and many people willing to buy them. But it will be up to the industry to innovate how its products grab both consumers and retail buyers attention.

The long tail of niche products will be more relevant than ever, as long as each niche serves a real need for consumers. This year it won't cut it to dive in make a sale, and then call back a few months later to resell the same product. Visibility through relationship will be essential.

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