This post is based on a webinar by Daria Dolnycky, Senior Manager, Category Management Practice at Deloitte and former Buyer at Target. She is an accomplished retail executive with close to 20 years of experience, bringing insights on retail merchandising as well as a deep understanding of start up and new market penetration. You can find the full webinar recording here.

Below, we summarized Daria’s top 5 insider tips on what you can do to strengthen your buyer relationships and win in the competitive world of retail.

1. Become a trusted advisor, not a “vendor”

Don’t let your brand be the only topic you bring up with your buyer. They are looking to see that you have a broader perspective beyond yourself. Rather than hard selling your products, giving them insights about trends in your industry not only empowers them to be more knowledgeable when talking to their superiors but also lets you stand out as a vendor who understands a buyer’s perspective.


Daria talked about how Pantene managed to land such a large shelf space (pictured above). Instead of jumping straight into what they had to offer, they first started with information about the salon industry and trends. They then moved to the frustration that women had regarding affordability to these products, then finally how Pantene does a good job in covering certain aspects in this niche.

2. Be customer centric vs. product centric

Every conversation or discussion should start with talking about understanding the customer and the changes and needs within a specific category. This keeps the topic interesting and relevant as well as communicates to the buyer that you understand how to drive growth and change. It also helps to frame the mindset on discussions surrounding strategies. Rather than creating a product first and then figuring out how to sell it, the product is being developed and sold to satisfy specific needs of the customers, with them in mind from the start. Being customer centric means you have done your research on how your brand fits in your industry, and shows that you know the demographics that are being targeted in order to be successful.

3. Use data to answer the “SO WHAT”

Knowing data is only half the game. Being able to interpret the meaning and act on the results is a whole different ball game. It doesn’t matter how much data you’ve collected if you don’t use it to leverage and progress. Recommendations need to be made and supported with data, which will in turn put buyers in the mindset of forward thinking.

This is essential as buyers are comfortable with conventional methods that have worked in the past. It is your job as a vendor to disrupt this cycle of looking at common buyer metrics such as sales margin and market shares, and encourage them to take a risk.

To make buyers more open to trying something new, you need to reassure them that they are not taking this risk alone. Having a contingency plan, or a plan B is an example. This could mean guaranteeing to take leftover inventory back after a promotion, or agreeing to start off testing in specific stores and using data to encourage expansion in the future if deemed successful.

Askuity data retail trends

4. Embrace and get ahead of change

Change comes in all different ways, shapes and sizes. An example of using change to your advantage is embracing the power of ecommerce sites because they can provide you with direct feedback and information from consumers. From a transaction, you can collect data such as age and location demographics, items commonly purchased together, track site traffic to identify trends and demand etc. This data allows you to present information to buyers about the future trends of your specific industry. It also helps you stay informed and strategically ahead.

5. Be confident and stand behind your convictions

At the end of the day, you know your brand, your product, and your customers the best. You have the ability to be the expert and own your space. Bringing data to the table shows buyers that you understand where you fit in the broader scope such as trends and changes, showing investment in the growth of the organization. Your claims and strategies are now grounded and have the support to make them convincing.

To hear more tips from Daria, check out the full in-depth webinar here.

We’ve also released an eBook called “10 MORE Things Your Buyer Hates About You” that talks about the flip side of this topic – what NOT to do. It’s packed with even more blunders by product vendors and actionable tips from real buyers across various industries. It will show you how to leverage retail insights to get on shelf and stay on shelf, grab buyers’ attention with promotions, win at omnichannel, and much, much more. 

Download eBook