Last Monday we were at Excel at the Natural and Organics Products Europe show. Waitrose Buyer Joanna Lynch gave a talk giving advice to brands wanting to stock their products in Waitrose, she’s a buyer for Medical, Healthcare and Wellbeing in the Family, Household and Personal Care team. We have split this into two posts, this one is general advice, the second is specifically about trade shows. We hope you will find them useful.

There are the main points from her talk:


Long e-mails.

Be mindful of buyers’ time, they get hundreds of emails a day. Communicate effectively, be friendly in tone, keep it simple.

Long presentations.

Just as with e-mails, long presentations should be avoided. Make sure to cover what’s your point of difference, how you stand out, show understanding and knowledge of your products, the category and the market while keeping presentations relatively short and to the point.

Chasing emails or phone calls.

If they like your product they will contact you. Don’t keep chasing them. Remember, you need to be someone they want to work with. A well-prepared e-mail and presentation is more likely to earn you a response from buyers, chasing them is likely to do the opposite.

Not knowing your figures

Buyers will definitely know theirs. If you try to make something out, exaggerate or simply don’t know key figures, buyers will spot it. They need to be able to build a relationship with you. If you fail here it won’t be a good start. Know your markets, growth, dynamics, competitor etc.

Don’t send samples unless they ask for them.

They get loads of samples, if they want them they will ask. Buyers are constantly asked to keep on top of piles of samples they didn’t ask for. Don’t become part of that pile, be helpful.



Suppliers who understand the client and their customers really well.

Never underestimate this, as it’ll not only help you drive sales but keep customers.

Understanding of the market.

Having a great product is, of course, essential, but an understanding of the market will help you reach your customers in the most effective way.

Point of difference.

Do your research and work out why your product complements what the buyer already has on shelf instead of cannibalizing it.  Buyers won’t be excited if they have a brand that already covers the need you’ve identified. This is especially important on the beauty section, where products have a long shelf life.

A partner they can work with.

It’s much easier to work with someone you feel you can trust and with whom you’ve built rapport, don’t forget that.


Not only is it contagious, but you equate someone who is passionate about what they do with someone who is committed to it and will work hard to make it work. Naturally, buyers find this appealing.

Category focus.

Don’t spread yourself too thin, chances are that if you dip your toes into too many ponds you won’t get to know any of them particularly well.  It’s much easier to work with someone who shows commitment to a particular sector.

In the past we have worked with many brands that have had listings in supermarkets. We work with other people who can offer advice, like Tessa Stuart who conducts excellent in store brand research. If you have a question, or have any experiences with getting (or not getting) your products into supermarkets, please post it below.