Selling to Retail

How to Contact a Retail Buyer…

By June 17, 2013 No Comments

At Retailbound (, the question most frequently asked what is the best method to contact a retail buyer – by telephone or by email.
If you decide to contact a retail buyer yourself, then you should do it by telephone. Email for the initial contact is too impersonal and most likely will be deleted by the buyer.
Unless you’re approaching a small retailer, it’s unlikely that a retail buyer will answer directly; the first contact will probably be with the retail buyer’s assistant or the department’s receptionist. The assistant retail buyer or the receptionist can direct your inquiry to the retail buyer of the particular product category that you are interested in pitching.
If you do contact the retail buyer by phone, use your landline phone, not your cell phone. When I was a retail buyer, I had a prospective vendor call me on her cell phone and it was very irritating when the call when in and out due to the strength of the signal. I couldn’t make out the conversation with this prospective vendor and finally hung up on her.
Be aware that a screening procedure may be in place to prevent immediate contact with the retail buyer, but it’s usually possible to make an appointment if you take our advice. It is important that the appointment be made with the actual retail buyer and not the assistant buyer, who does not usually have the authority to buy. Do not try to discuss any aspect of the product over the telephone. Remember that the purpose of the call is to get an appointment to see the retail buyer. Examples of appointment-making phrases are:

  • “I have an interesting product opportunity that I would like to discuss with you.”
  • “I have a product opportunity that will increase traffic into your stores and would like to show it to you.”
  • “I have a unique product ideally suited to [store name] and would like an appointment to discuss it with you.”

Let us know some examples of appointment-making phrases you have used to get a meeting with a retail buyer.