One of the challenges that faces retailers is knowing how to choose stock that their customer will buy. With so much choice available to them, customers themselves often say that "I don't know what I'm looking for" or "I'll know it when I see it" which makes it hard to predict which stock items will sell and which ones will gather dust on the shelf.
What we find helps with our stock buying decisions is thinking from the customer viewpoint instead of our own. As an importer, we have learned to think from three viewpoints - our retailer's viewpoint, their buyer's viewpoint and the end user's viewpoint.
For example, we sell garden benches to retailers at tradeshows. Thinking from the three viewpoints, we try to answer this important question: how will this product make life better for each of those people?
In the case of a flat-packed garden bench, the retailer will have a bench assembled for display, while other benches remain in their cartons, ready for the customer to take with them or for shipping. The buyer will see the bench on display in store, in a photo or at a friend's place. The end user will see the bench in the garden or on a veranda and they will sit on the bench, move it around, and look after it.
How will the garden bench make life better for the retailer?
The simple answer is by selling, but there are other factors that will help the retailer. For example, is the bench easy to manage as a display item, which is moved around and cleaned regularly? Are the cartons sturdy enough to protect the benches during storage and delivery? Are the assembly instructions easy to follow? Is there information available to help staff answer customer questions? Does the supplier provide spare parts if required?
How will the garden bench make life better for the buyer and the end user?
This will depend on whether or not the buyer is the end user. If the bench is bought for personal use, then the buyer is the end user. If not, then there are two different viewpoints to consider.
Before the bench is used, benefits that will improve life for the buyer include:
- Information about the bench such as how to look after it and how it will weather
- Knowing if the bench will fit into a particular space
- Knowing if the bench can be moved around easily
- Ease of assembly and availability of help if required
- Confidence that spare parts are available
- Being able to get the bench home easily
If the bench is bought as a gift for someone, then the person buying it wants the recipient to be pleased when they receive it. That means that the presentation of the item, even when it's still in the box, is important. Information about the product will need to be available to the gift recipient, including assembly instructions and maintenance advice.
When the bench is used, benefits that will improve life for the end user include:
- Being able to move the bench around
- Confidence that the bench is safe to sit on
- Appearance of the bench when not in use
- Being able to leave the bench out in the weather
- Having a bench that suits their home and garden decor
The ultimate test
While some benches will be used frequently as seating for family and guests, others will mainly serve a decorative purpose. The ultimate test for all garden benches is the same: are people able to sit on the bench safely and comfortably?
How this helps our retailers
When our retailers buy stock from us they know that we have already considered the benefits for their customers as well as for them. We provide item information sheets that describe features such as the materials it is made from, colour options in stock and available on request, weight and dimensions when assembled and when packed. We provide retailer support for marketing to customers, including high quality photographs and features and benefits lists, and we provide after-sales support, including assembly advice and spare parts. We also direct customer enquiries to retailers in their local area.
Find out more
If you would like to know about our products or our retailer support, please contact Graham on 02 6247 0249 during business hours or via email.
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Author: Kathy Creaner
Kathy loves to talk about gardening, program and project management, doing business in China, social media marketing and customer service.