Having spent almost a decade as a Branded Clothing Buyer for two of the UK’s biggest retailers I have built some fantastic relationships with a lot High Street and Global Brands. One thing I have always drilled into Trainee Buyers that have worked alongside me over the years is regardless of the status of a brand at that moment in time they must always respond to emails or phone calls, even if the response is a no thank you, you just never know if that person you ignored will end up at Nike or adidas one day and if you ignored him/her that isn’t going to get your new relationship off to the greatest of starts and let’s not forget it’s just common courtesy to reply.
When you are buying for big retailers you are at times placing orders that are £1m+ in value and your phone doesn’t stop ringing because everybody wants a piece of your budget. When you become a small fish, your phone doesn’t ring quite as often, and you don’t have the same buying power…yet. You can react to this in two ways 1) You can live in the past and get annoyed about how things have changed 2) You can look towards the future and believe you will be back on their speed dial one day. I have opted for option 2 and fortunately I get the bigger picture…As a Buyer we would always gravitate towards a brand that is smashing it and give the reps from that brand more time than we would a brand that is only contributing a smaller amount, we’re in a numbers game so naturally sales reps will give more of their time and attention to Buyers that can give them the volume, just like I would when there’s a brand that is smashing it!
For most people as a ‘big fish’ you are taken to corporate events and you don’t know what the warehouse looks like because you are never in it but as a ‘small fish’ you are lucky if you have enough money to get yourself a Greggs pasty and you are never out of your warehouse! For me personally when I was a ‘big fish’ I never got carried away with it and I didn’t attend many corporate events (I don’t like wearing shirt and pants being one of the main reasons) and I was always in the warehouse as I wanted to know what had and hadn’t been delivered! With this in mind it’s made the transition from big fish to small fish seamless for me, I don’t actually like fish (apart from chippy fish) so I never considered myself a big fish and I don’t consider myself a small fish now, I am what I am and suppliers that have dealt with me for years or for the first time will get the same level of integrity from me, regardless of whether I’m buying 1,000 units or 50 units…for now. My car was once cleaned every weekend, but the backseats haven’t been upright for months and it’s a car/van at the moment - I wouldn’t change a thing though!