If you have worked with the Target merchandising team, you know we are six months into Merch Transformation initiative. Change is good, but change is also hard. We are hearing that buyers have significantly more on their plate. While high workload isn't unique to just Target, it's our role to foster the best partnerships between our customers and the Target team. We need to prioritize and be clear on actions and this means looking for new ways of doing things.
With the Target buyers being pressed for time, here are ideas on what we can do together to help maximize efficiencies and effectively communicate with the buyers/Target team:
Be okay with the buyer saying ‘no’ to a meeting
If it isn’t a business urgent topic, we're not taking it personally – just because you aren’t having a face to face meeting with them, doesn’t mean they aren’t excited about your business or important to their vendor matrix.
Build strong relationships with the merchant support team
(IA, MS, Planner etc) – this will go a long way with the Target merchant if they are hearing positive things from their team and you are able to work with the support teams vs. the buyers
Loop the buyers in only as needed
Partner with the appropriate Target team member and loop in the buyer if you have hit a roadblock or only inform them once complete as an FYI
Balance between email and in person communication
Target buyers have less time to meet, so if it can be dealt with over email, do that
Deliver information to the Target buyer ‘on a silver platter’
Anticipate all of their questions and thoughts ahead of time and make sure your email is clear and concise.
Take workload off their plate
This will score lots of points with Target if you make their lives easier vs. giving them additional ‘to dos’
Don’t always be reaching out with only problems or things you need from them.
Do you have some compelling insights to share? A nugget or a fun fact? Target buyers are expected to be in the know, but don’t always have the time to do the research. How can your team become their go to ‘expert’ in their category?
Let's think about other creative solutions for communication
How can we be proactive in a solution of clarity and efficiency for merchants: Do we use 2 minute video stories to articulate communication/ask – or do we use an interactive platform for buyers to answer quickly so we create solution? We will continue to explore new possibilities.
Give the bad news early
Buyers are always appreciative of the ‘bad news early’ approach, especially when it’s accompanied by an action plan that’s already in motion.
Be honest about your products first
It's appreciated when vendors are able to be open and honest about their own items first, rather than making negative communication about their competitors. It goes a long way when you can say “these three items of ours aren’t performing to expectations, but here’s what we’re doing about it”.