AIB Hosts Roundtable on Engaging Suppliers in Supporting Indies

For suppliers and manufacturers, independent retailers deliver an essential value. There’s clear evidence that it’s independents that introduce new products, induce customer demand, and maintain competition in the marketplace.

For the Advocates for Independent Business’s fourth roundtable discussion, coalition members exchanged experiences and tips across their industries on how to talk with suppliers about this value. During the one-hour conversation, members discussed the ways that suppliers already recognize it, ideas for further education, and other strategies trade associations can use to recruit suppliers as allies in supporting indies and preserving a diverse marketplace.

Some of the highlights from the discussion were:

  • Oren Teicher discussed how a Federal Trade Commission advisory opinion opened the door for the American Booksellers Association to negotiate with publishers on behalf of its members.
  • Fred Clements shared strategies that the National Bicycle Dealers Association uses to educate suppliers. These include a widely-distributed white paper on why specialty brands need specialty retailers, and a supplier scorecard that allows retailers to both influence the marketplace and see what their peers think about different brands when making their buying decisions.
  • Michael Morris covered how TriMega Purchasing Association negotiates with suppliers on terms like minimum order sizes, and works with them to create differentiation for independent retailers in the marketplace, such as by developing a national private label brand that’s only found at indies.
  • Parker Karnan talked about how the Independent Running Retailers Association is working with vendors to create programs that provide more value for them, such as drop-shipping from the vendor to the retailer, or omni-channel options that allow the customer to shop online from the brand, and pick-up the purchase in-store. “The vendors do see the value in having specialty stores,” Karnan said, “and know that the only way they can get product trial is through the running retail stores.”
  • Justin Koranda discussed how Fat Brain Toys, which is both a retailer and a manufacturer, has adopted policies that make a commitment to specialty toy retailers. As a manufacturer, Fat Brain Toys has a MAP pricing policy, and as a retailer, the company looks for manufacturers that employ wholesale policies that are similar to its own.

After brief presentations from these speakers, coalition members asked and answered questions about the details of these ideas, and talked about suppliers’ growing awareness of the importance of the independent retailers in their sectors.