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Dealing with buyers: Tips from a former buyer


Founder of Doggylicious and host of the Retail Ready podcast, Ben Whyatt, admits that he doesn’t know much about the apple industry and isn’t a fan of pears. But he was invited to APAL’s 2022 Industry Forum to share his experience and tips on the online marketplace opportunity, dealing with buyers, and the trends to watch in the future.

Ben Whyatt at the APAL Forum 2022.


Is online worth it?

While Doggylicious can be found in hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores, Ben says the real opportunity for growth is online.

“Doggylicious is on Catch, Pet Circle, Amazon, My Deal, Tradesquare, and a couple of other online marketplaces. Do they all work equally well? Not really. But just two of these online retailers were worth more than half the value of 600+ stores in the last financial year.”

If you do decide to go after these online marketplaces, Ben stresses the importance of concentrating on quality to minimise the chances of poor reviews. “Because the consumer can’t see the product on the shelf, your online reviews will make or break it. The review is where people tell others that they trust your product.”


Dealing with buyers

Ben has inside experience of the other side of the negotiating table, having being a Product Developer/Buyer for Coles for 12 years. He shared the following four tips on dealing with buyers:


  1. Develop the relationship. “You don’t need to be BFFs (Best Friends Forever) but do build a relationship. Just don’t be that supplier who always calls with headaches.”
  2. Cater for your audience. “A new wave of buyers is here; some as young as eighteen. Adjust your approach; for example, be aware that old people love phone calls, while young people prefer texts or voice messaging.”
  3. Be patient. “Buyers get a lot of emails. It pays to be patient, but also remember that you need answers too.”
  4. Think differently. “Buyers don’t want or need 50-page presentations. Consider sending them a video to be difference, help educate them on your product, and to kept your offering top-of-mind.


Three retail trends to watch

Ben concluded his presentation with a summary of three key retail trends. “Apple and pear growers are in a fantastic position to take advantage of all three of these trends.”


  1. Customers want stories. “They want to know about ingredients, process or sustainability a lot more than before.”
  2. Calories are starting to matter. Calorie information is increasingly being put on product packaging to help inform consumers.
  3. Not everyone is vegan, but everyone is looking for convenience.

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