By Vanessa Ting
Retail buyers don’t often times show their gratitude to their vendors. But trust me, they are grateful. They may just show it differently or not have the opportunity to express it. I’ll give a tip at the end of this post on how you can finagle a “thank you” from a buyer.
It’s unfortunate that some buyers don’t show their gratitude more. Because our success relies heavily upon our partnership with you, our vendors. Your marketing wins bring us sales. Your clever product launches bring us category growth. Your strong brand sales bring us job recognition from our Senior Buyers and DMMs – and in some cases, year-end bonuses and promotions.
Let me share a story about vendor gratitude. I had many great vendor relationships while working as a buyer. In fact, we are still friends to this day. This one particular vendor was a fantastic one because we worked as a team – this included taking risks as a team. Some risks paid off handsomely which benefited both of us/our companies. Some risks backfired. When they backfired, I had to have the hard conversation of “markdown coverage” . That meant I had to put them in a difficult spot and ask for a sum sometimes as high as $1 million. That feels really crappy. But despite it all, we liked working with each other and still do to this day.
In my humble opinion, the reason this vendor and I still have a strong working relationship is because we express gratitude for each other along the way. We celebrate wins *together* which makes it a little easier to swallow the setbacks *together*. In my experience, vendors and buyers who don’t express gratitude for each other are short-changing their relationship. It is not intentional on anyone’s part. Some people just forget to be appreciative. I’ll write more on how to remind them in just a second. When gratitude fails to exist, there is no commitment to one another. There is no motivation to dig deep and find a mutually beneficial outcome. That leads to untapped potential and short-term (zero-sum) solutions.
So yes, you can benefit from expressing gratitude to your buyer. Tell them how much you appreciate that they took a chance on you. Or simply thank them for their time or for that valuable piece of feedback.
And to echo Romy’s words, buyers are human too. My mom passed away unexpectedly during my time at Target (which is the reason I left my awesome job to return home). There were a handful of vendors that showed compassion and grace with a few kind words. I remember each and every one of those vendors and their words. And I am forever grateful for them. Did they earn special treatment from me after? Not consciously. But I bet I was more lenient on them than other vendors who merely saw me as an obstacle to get through.
This leads me to my tip on how you can earn gratitude from your buyer. It’s simple. Express your gratitude to them first. Point out the successes the two of you have achieved together and acknowledge them. Chances are, they will acknowledge you back and thank you in return. See? Super simple. Gratitude works that way. Give, give, get.
Happy Holidays, friends. We are grateful for you, your interest and your feedback. Thank YOU for reading our blog and best wishes for a wildly successful 2015.