Retail Buyer Decision Fatigue: It’s a real thing!

Thursday November 13thPresentation Pitch, Resources & Recommendations, Tips for Retail Success Category

By Vanessa Ting

We’ve all joked at one time or another about how tired we are of making decisions. It’s a REAL thing! “Decision Fatigue” is a term coined by social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister and very much affects how we make decisions and our moods.

Case in point, a few months ago when I was in the throes of wedding planning, I was overwhelmed by the volume of decisions. “Blush-pink or ivory-blush napkins? Do you want the same shade table linens or a contrasting color? Do you want to match your flowers or complement? Will your cool tone shades clash with the gold mercury glass candle holders?” and on and on. I was paralyzed by the sheer volume of options in front of me and I just stopped caring. I told the vendors to pick. And then I’d go home to my fiancé cranky, stressed and tired. Not fun for anyone.

Can you relate?

Well, this dynamic happens with retail buyers too. Especially during their buying cycles. Imagine having to select 100 SKUs for your shelf assortment. To arrive at those 100 SKUs, you probably have to sift through 500 SKUs just to narrow your options. Compound that with the number of vendors who send samples and pitches unsolicited. That’s easily another few hundred additional SKUs pouring into my inbox or the mailroom. Shoot me now.

It got to the point where I was too tired to make a decision on what to eat for lunch. I would stand dumbly at the expansive Target cafeteria hoping someone would just direct me on what to eat.

Get what I’m saying?

So considering the overwhelm a buyer encounters. What can you do to facilitate their decision making? What can YOU do to DIRECT THEM ON WHAT TO BUY?

As a vendor, your best move is to take the onerous chore out of sifting through pitches and help the buyer figure out which ones are truly worth considering. Take the buyers’ guesswork out of determining whether your brand represents good sales potential. Only YOU have the POWER to limit the number of questions a buyer has to ask to narrow in on the information he/she needs to make a decision.

You may think you have done that already. But have you really? Are you opening as many retail accounts as you thought you would have by now? Are you getting a response (yes or no) from retail buyers? Are they buying?

If you cannot confidently say yes to those questions, then you are not presenting your pitch in a way that facilitates decision making.

And based on my years as a retail buyer, only 5% of all submissions I’ve received presented the information in the way I needed it to make my decisions. So chances are, you could do a better job.

My job, and mission, is to teach as many small product companies as possible the right techniques in hopes that 5 years from now, retail buyers see a significant difference in the quality of pitches they receive. I will reduce their “decision fatigue”. And I will increase the number of stores your brand is sold in, meaning more sales for you.

So help me with my mission – and check out more information about how we can do this together


This was originally posted on


Fishing for some Shark Tank entrepreneurial lessons?

Tuesday November 11thResources & Recommendations Category

My guess is that you answered yes if you are still reading.

So, dive deep. Today in The Huffington Post I’m quoted (in slide 3) in an article called “Shark Tank Contestants Share Their Top Lessons Learned.”







[VIDEO] From the Target retail buyer: What it really takes to get into big box retailers

Friday November 7thPresentation Pitch, Resources & Recommendations, Tips for Retail Success Category

Yesterday, I did a video interview with Tamara Monosoff. Many of you know her as the best-selling author of Mom Inventors Handbook. It was a fun video with great energy and meaty content. As you’ve come to expect from this blog, we don’t skimp on content. We don’t hold back information. We share it all. So along those lines, it is my honor to share this content with you. Enjoy!!

This video interview covers the buyer’s perspective on the following FAQs:

  • What makes a brand attractive to retail buyers?
  • How often is a large retailer placing new items in their stores?
  • When a buyer is considering a new item, what is their biggest concern?
  • What are the common mistakes made when approaching buyers?
  • How is a retail buyer’s performance measured?
  • What things will retailers want to see financially from vendors?
  • What elements of a brand’s story or founder’s background stand out when buyers are researching a brand?
  • Is it necessary to have a sales rep?
  • What are the different tiers of retail?
  • What does the ideal pitch package contain?

It’s our birthday: turns 3!

Friday October 31stResources & Recommendations Category


Happy 3rd Birthday to Both Sides of the Retail Table!

To celebrate our 3 years since launching in October 2011, for your reading pleasure, here are the top 4 blog articles by page views:

  1. From the Buyer, 5 Must-Have Items For Your Retail Pitch
  2. From the Entrepreneur, 5 Must-Have Items For Your Retail Pitch
  3. From the Buyer, Tips for Securing A Meeting With A Retail Buyer
  4. From the Entrepreneur, Packaging Tips To Move Product Off Shelf

We are proud of how we have helped the product entrepreneur community in our 3 years of blogging. Readers have studied our blog articles and taught themselves the simple but smart ways to get retail-ready. Many have implemented our feedback to earn meetings with and, subsequently, win shelf placement in stores across the US.

One reader emailed us to say, “I wanted to say thanks for being so generous with your experience on your blog, Both Sides of the Retail Table. I run a fashion accessories brand and owe you great deal in helping me land my first account with Karmaloop, a large retailer in my space.”

Knowing we have made a positive impact on product businesses keeps us going, especially as we balance this blog with our primary businesses. So thank you for the feedback and for following our blog!

Other fun facts:

  • Every one of our posts are original content.
  • We have written 95 blog articles since launch. That’s about 2.6 blog posts per month (see? we don’t clutter your in-boxes!).
  • We have grown our user base by over 4,700% since December 2011…and we had a strong following right out of the gate!
  • We celebrated our 3rd anniversary with a fun photo shoot! See pictures above and in About Us.
  • And this October isn’t just our 3 year anniversary, but also the month in which Vanessa got married! And of course, Romy was in attendance. The best part of business is making great friends along the way.




From the Buyer’s Perspective: How to continue the momentum AFTER your meeting with a buyer.

Friday October 31stPresentation Pitch, Resources & Recommendations, Tips for Retail Success Category

This is a common question. Many find that after the initial flurry of conversation with a retail buyer, the buyer suddenly goes radio silent. You send an email; but no response. Frustrating!

Do you wonder how often you should follow up before feeling like a pest?

Here’s my advice:

1) Build your communication cadence around the buyer’s timeline. In the initial conversation with retail buyers, ALWAYS ask when they will be making decisions AND how often they reset in stores. Between these 2 questions, you can ascertain the lead time on each reset and the decision timeline on each of those sets. This allows you to wisely choose *when* to follow-up with your buyer, as well as when to give up and move on. Knowing their timelines will save you tons of time and effort (and aggravation). In general, there are at least 4 pieces of information you should always get from the buyer in your first conversation that will set you up for success – and build momentum. Timelines are one of them. More on the other three in a future post.

2) Use newsworthy updates as a reason to follow-up. There is no rule of thumb for how long you should wait before following up again. You should only follow-up when you have something to share that is important to the buyer.  There is nothing more unimpressive to a retail buyer than getting the same email content over and over again. If a buyer hasn’t responded to your previous emails or follow-ups, it’s because it lacked something noteworthy or time-sensitive. In my experience, both as a retail buyer and helping clients land retail placement, the ideal newsworthy update is one that announces upcoming marketing activity. It gives retail buyers a sense of urgency to buy *now* as opposed to buy *later*. Here are some examples of emails to buyers that have prompted a response because it instilled a sense of urgency.

So to continue the momentum after your meeting with a buyer, don’t send emails that look like:

“Hi Buyer, I am following up to see if you are still interested in carrying X in your stores.”


“Hi Buyer, I am following up on the samples you asked me to send you. Do you have any feedback?”


“Hi Buyer, we spoke a couple months ago after you expressed interest in our line. Are you still considering us for your Q4 assortment?” 

or emails that re-explains your product and looks virtually identical to the first email you sent them.

Instead, send follow-up emails and communication similar to these examples.


May I have 3 seconds of your time and support?

Friday September 12thUncategorized Category

We’re halfway there! Please take 3 seconds and vote for Psi Health Solutions to win a $150K grant so that we may bring nausea relief to so many more deserving people through education and awareness. We need only 125 more votes to qualify for the next round. Simply go here and click “votRomy Mission Ste now”. Thank you so much for your support!

From the Entrepreneur’s Perspective: How to continue the momentum AFTER your meeting with a buyer.

Friday September 12thResources & Recommendations, Tips for Retail Success Category

Four tips for continuing your dialogue with a buyer after a meeting.

  1. In the day or two following your meeting, send a thank you email or hand-written note card to the buyer thanking them for their time and interest. It shows your appreciation, indicates that you have continued interest in doing business with them, highlights your ability to follow up, and reminds them of your existence.
  2. If you have committed to following up with the buyer on any outstanding issues, get back to them as soon as you can. Show that you have follow through and can do so in a timely manner. It builds the buyer’s trust and confidence in you. In that email or note card (see #1 above), let the buyer know you will be in touch with that information.
  3. We send a newsletter to our buyers once per month. The newsletter contains information relevant to my buyers (i.e. Psi Bands press, sales tools, testimonials). It’s an opportunity to showcase to our buyers how we continually drive sales to their doors, and to remind them I am available should they wish to discuss anything with me (i.e. we are not bugging them!).
  4. In your meeting, you confirmed the buyer’s decision making timeline. As such, you know when to be following up. If you have not heard from the buyer on that date, email them and inquire as to the status of their decision. “Hi buyer xyz, I am coming to you today to see if you can share any updates with me about your decision to include my product xyz in your assortment. I look forward to your reply!” Short and sweet. Note: there is no reason to reach out to the buyer before their decision making date that they gave to you unless you are still in negotiations, owe the buyer more info, and/or are awaiting info from the buyer.

From the Buyer’s Perspective: You’re Back From The Trade Show. Now What?

Thursday September 11thResources & Recommendations, Tips for Retail Success Category

Here is a round-up of resources to help you continue your momentum after the trade show.


Question: How do I follow-up with buyers post-show? 

Answer: Templates for follow-up emails and letters of introduction:


Question: How do I make sure I get purchase orders after the show?



Question: I was approached by international distributors. Should I work with them? 



Question: A big box retailer came to my booth. Am I ready to do business with them?



Question: I received an order. What do I need to do now?



Question: I met some sales reps. How do I know if they are good?



Planning for your next trade show begins NOW. Do a post-mortem recap on this past trade show. Use these learnings to inform your next trade show approach and strategy. Here is a checklist to help you plan for the next show:


From the Entrepreneur’s Perspective: Product Entrepreneur’s Guide for how to network & ask for help without putting people off

Thursday August 28thTips for Retail Success Category

You already know it’s critically important to actively network. But how you network is of even greater importance because you don’t want to put people off. Following are some tips for developing mutually respectful relationships and reciprocity.

  1. Know what you want and be specific in your request. When you ask for someone’s help, be specific with your request. If you are unfocused, then you are not being mindful of the other person’s time (not to mention you are not getting the results you truly need for your own purposes) – and they are not going to give you more time later down the line because you’ve completely irritated them. Map out in advance the questions you have, write them down, and when you ask someone for their help, share this list with them in advance so they are also prepared to answer them. Additionally, in your request, ask for a specific amount of time (i.e. 15 minutes or whatever duration is realistic to get your needs met and be respectful of the other person’s time). And, when that time elapses, your time is up, unless the other person continues to show great interest and drives the conversation forward.
  2. Give, give, get. I love this quote by Angela Jia Kim of Savor the Success. Do not expect others to give to you unless you are willing to give to others. That means you are giving (valuable information) more than you are getting in the long term, but when you do get, the payoff can be big. So, stay connected/dialed in to targeted networking groups/social media and provide value-added tips wherever/whenever you can (see #3 below). To emphasize, the key is giving timely and valuable information so as to not put off others. Irrelevant and one sided/braggy information is not well received. The learning curve to getting your product on the retail shelf, especially in larger retailers, is huge. The more people who are rallying for you, the better. Even the most simple tips that are shared from one product owner to another can pay off big. A bonus: when you give authentically, it makes you feel good.
  3. Network in like minded groups. Be targeted with where you spend your time networking. As a product-based entrepreneur, we have similar goals: expanding retail distribution, increasing our profit margins, improving systems, maximizing marketing spend, etc. So, join product-based entrepreneur groups that encourage reciprocation amongst like-minded participants. When we come together and collectively share resources, strategies, and ideas, the sum is greater than its parts.

Are you trade show bound?

Wednesday August 27thTips for Retail Success Category

If yes, give this article a read. Romy offers tips for maximizing your trade show experience in the September 2014 issue of Entrepreneur magazine in an article titled “7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Exhibiting at a Trade Show”.