Airline buyer tips

How to best work with buyers

July 12, 2017

Alan Hayes is inflight retail and managed services director for Alpha LSG in the UK and knows the buyer/supplier relationship well. Jo Austin taps into his expertise and discovered he experience has given him a true insight into what it takes to get a product on board.

It is not rocket science, he insists, it’s about creating a strong a lasting relationship. Know your stuff, know your customer profile and make life easy for the buyer and you cant go wrong, he says.

Alan has ‘seen it all’ when it comes to suppliers trying to persuade an airline to take their product. He has 15 years’ experience in retail, aviation and customer account management and says: “Relationships matter and everything is worth a try.”

That said, suppliers do often make some daft assumptions which simply don’t help their cause he says. Chief among these are the assumption that everyone already knows their company and that the company is very different from the competition. Others include thinking that the buyer’s challenges are simple and forgetting that buyers are interested in other products too. Cost is critical too.

The process of getting a product onboard should be a matter of common sense, Alan explains if a supplier really knows their product and has a passion. Remember the buyer may not always be right or knowledgeable and that if the supplier really knows his customer profile and is enthusiastic about this product then this can make life and the buying decision easier for the buyer.

If a supplier wants a long term relationship with the buyer, they must do the homework, provide facts and figures and be prepared to share sales data, remembering that both sides have a business to run. Think beyond the product being listed and, most important, be sure you can guarantee the supply chain once an order is made. Buyers have to have complete trust in their suppliers.

Suppliers need to be on top of onboard shopping trends too and one of the biggest changes is technological innovation to support efficiency and sales, and measuring customer satisfaction which is vital.

A few tips to help include:

  • Never assume your company or product is unique. Be open and be prepared for some give and take
  • Be sure you can guarantee the supply chain. Buyers have to have complete trust in their supplier
  • Make life easier for buyers with clear stats and product information
  • Concentrate on the long term.
  • Remember the buyer/supplier relationship is rather like a marriage. It’s about creating a good partnership