Different strokes for different folks. How can you differentiate the plan for each customer? - SKUFood
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Different strokes for different folks. How can you differentiate the plan for each customer?

If you are in the food and beverage business, chances are most of your customers are selling food and beverage. How they choose to do it can be quite different. Think about your customers and how they choose to compete and try to differentiate their offering in the market.

Your job as a supplier is to support that positioning and find opportunities to grow category sales and share within those formats. If you are selling into conventional stores, the product and program needs to be very different than discount or specialty stores.

Trust me, retailers know when you put together one presentation and just change the logo on the front page. It was obvious to me when I was sitting in my chair across the desk from a supplier and I was getting the same presentation they had delivered to another retailer.

Success and better relationships happen when you find opportunities to differentiate your plan for each customer. You do not have to reinvent your business for each customer but you do need to make them believe you are doing things for them.

In our C.A.R.T. process we have 4 columns. In the past few weeks, we have focused on Consumers and Alignment with customers, the C and the A in C.A.R.T. This week we will start to build the Retail plan. In this column we ask the question; How can you differentiate the plan for each customer?

You can differentiate without making your business too complex

To ensure you are differentiating your plan effectively, focus on how your customer goes to market. What are the things you see in their store where they are making investments in signage and programs?

For example, if you see a lot of signage and shelf space featuring local suppliers, figure out how you can support this if you are indeed a ‘local’ supplier in this market. Consider options like working with them on social media, telling your online community where your products are available etc.

Using a different example where your customer is a discount store, you will need to find some labour-saving ideas. Perhaps you implement a tear away case pack to save them time stocking shelves.

Focus on your customer’s priorities to help you build the plan for each of them. When we suggested you ask the question, “what is your definition of success?”, review the answers. This will help you customize your plan for each customer. One might have mentioned service level first and another might have discussed sales. This is the order you should use in your presentation and plan to each customer.

Retailers appreciate it when they perceive suppliers are working to support their position in the market. Loyalty programs are unique features with some retailers. They do perceive these to be integral to their format and often these are an effective program to differentiate your plan, support your customer and drive some incremental sales.

Private label is another unique feature is every major retailer. Private label might or might not be right for your business. Only you can decide this. If it is right your customer will see your business as producing ‘their’ products which can improve your relationship.

Create a unique plan with common elements

To build your plans create the following table and find the subtle differences between each of your customers:

There are many opportunities for you to find the differences from one customer to another. When you put them all together is can be easier to find the unique opportunities.

When I was writing the SKUFood newsletter this week I wanted to let you know we reached a milestone. I save the files in numerical order and this is #100. We have sent 100 of these out to our online community and shared them on SKUFood.com. I hope they are helpful in your business and they add to your ability to improve your business.

To celebrate 100 newsletters we are giving away a free SKUFood Membership (value $497). To enter for a chance to win the membership (or an hour with me if you are an existing SKUFood Member), email one or more benefits that you received from the SKUFood Newsletters. Winner will be randomly selected from all entries received. We will announce the winner in next weeks edition. Our purpose each week is to help your food and beverage business and we're interested in how we have been helping you succeed.

*Our intention is to share the benefits to our SKUFood community, if you want it to remain confidential, please indict that in your email.*

If you have any questions about how to get your local products on the shelf or in the shopping cart you can always call me at (902) 489-2900 or send me an email peter@skufood.com.