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Here’s why retailers won’t buy from you

Retailers are a tough crowd and they are getting worse. But if you understand why they are the way they are, then you might get smarter at how you market and sell to them. Let’s look at 5 reasons why they are not buying. Some of these are just a polite way to say, I’m not interested so you have to work out what is real.

They don’t really understand the value of what you are selling

They don’t really understand the value of what you are selling

I mean they kind of do because you have done a good job of briefing them, but consider the information they are receiving in a wider context and appreciate that the full impact of your solution may have not come through or has been forgotten. Most tech companies’ unique sales propositions are either weak or simply work at a technical level. A company’s true USP is rarely to do with the tech and more to do with the value – what value in both hard and soft terms do you provide and how does that make things better for the retailer longer term.

You are not on the list

All retailers have a list of IT projects scheduled and it is quite likely that there is no room for yours. Waiting a year probably won’t help if they are using the list as an excuse not to talk to you. The list may well be full of projects that are not actually not going to get done, or are already redundant or are simply not going to deliver significant value. But it exists nevertheless so your solution will have to stand out in some way. Plenty of technologies have jumped the list but it tends to be because a burning bridge just happens to meet the perfect solution. It doesn’t happen often enough, so you can change the dial by digging deeper into each retailer you meet to find the burning need.

They got distracted and forgot about you

Retailers are busy, you know that, so they move on. Worse, they may spend weeks and weeks with you talking about something that is of pressing interest to them right now but then something comes up and unless you get the deal done there are then, the opportunity has been missed because they are focusing on something else. Or, you simply did not keep reminding them about you, so while you are assuming they are as committed as you are, in fact they have already moved on.

They are worried that your solution will cause problems

This is a tricky one because what it may mean is your tech is really going to make a big difference for the retailer, but to get the full benefit, they have to motivate and train staff to use it, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Part of the answer is to think about all the roadblocks in a typical implementation and work out if you can remove or mitigate them. Another is that the new tech will enable the retailer to make promises that they cannot fulfil; for instance, that there is insufficient availability or visibility of stock to drive a clienteling system.

You are not talking to the right guy

Retailers that champion new tech are often the least influential on their peers to get budget to pay for it. Retailers’ labs are meant to be safe places to trial tech that can be piloted in the business more quickly, but this rarely happens. The tech company spends all their time in the lab without realising that they need to do the internal comms to a wider set of influencers.

They got a better offer

Tech companies almost never admit to me that they lost to a cheaper competitor but it happens in business and it happens a lot in retail which is peopled by deal demons. And it can happen that your nearest competitor steals all your messaging and makes a grand promise to the retailer that you know they cannot keep. There is no legal redress for this so you have no real choice but to keep the comms up with the retailer until they realise their mistake.


As a results-driven retail PRcontent marketing and digital marketing agency, Fieldworks can help you tell your story, build your brand and connect with retail customers.


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