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What does the best partnership with Target buyers look like when time is a limited resource?


Target’s strong performance is a result of years of transformation initiatives from ecommerce and digital capabilities to breakthrough brands. Often under looked in a company’s turnaround is what is happening behind the scenes when it comes to creating an organization that works in 21st century retail. With more priorities and initiatives being added each year for the team at Target, the most elusive resource now is time. Along with the changing demands of the guest, come changing demands of vendor-buyer partnerships.

Jacobs set out to determine what the best partnership with Target buyers looks like in the fast-paced retail world. We interviewed buyers and their cross functional teams to figure out how we can drive results effectively, but most importantly – efficiently.

Here’s what we heard:

What’s causing all of this?

1. Additional complexities of retail

No doubt, the world of retail is exciting, especially for guests, but this means more complexities running a business. Digital initiatives, new store formats, personalization and segmentation, new metrics, etc. means buyers are being pulled in many directions, which leads to limited calendar time.

2. Faster Trends

Target is known for brining trends to the mass market with speed and magic! The result is working with more and newer vendors - with even faster turnaround times – more meetings, more emails, more reports.

So what can you do?

This is where we believe Jacobs’ mantra of “connect and guide” plays a crucial role with Target now more than ever. More resources are needed for brands to win with the Target guest – from insights and analytics to strategic planning sessions, buyers now expect vendors to know “the Target way” from day one. You may have gotten your product on the shelf, but will the way you work keep it there?

How to be successful:

1. Really understand the Target way

This comes down to understanding the Target process, which includes the ability to work independently, recognize how their brand fits within Target’s long term strategies, and communicate effectively. According to one buyer, “Vendors need to understand that they may only get 1-2 meetings a year”. You need to work with a team that understands each component of the merchandising planning and execution process.

2. Bring insights, marketplace information, and solutions to every meeting

This may be a tough one if you’re a small or emerging vendor, but since the frequency of meetings have decreased, the quality of information during those meetings needs to be better. It’s crucial to for your business to operate with speed and the knowledge to make data-driven decisions and understand Target priorities.

3. Rethink your communication

Not everyone needs an in depth weather report or as one buyer puts it, “Too much content in e-mails, I just want the facts and solutions”.


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