Product Line Reviews

We bridge the trust gap

Total Retail Group can help.

A Product Line Review is a full review of the entire category by a retailer.  As a current vendor, manufacturers will participate in line reviews in order to keep their current business and to potentially grow their assortment.

Generally, retailers initiate a line review for 1 of 4 reasons:

  1. Cycle - generally every category is reviewed with some frequency depending on the nature of the category. Seasonal categories are reviewed annually while other categories may only be reviewed once every 3 years.
  2. Price Issues - A price increase from the incumbent supplier will often trigger a review to ensure that pricing is still competitive.  A review may also be held simply to apply pricing pressure.
  3. Performance Issues – When current suppliers consistently fail to deliver on-time or in-full, a merchant may initiate a review to find a more reliable partner.
  4. Innovation - When a category starts to change and innovation starts to crop up, a retailer can call a review to make sure their assortment includes the latest innovations.

These reviews include multiple competitors.  When the PLR is announced, it accompanies the Buyer’s strategic objectives which may include:  Innovation, Cost Out, Addressing Competitive Gaps, Assortment Optimization, Improve Product Presentation and Visual Merchandising, Special Buys, and Supply Chain Optimization.

As a part of PLR preparation, manufacturers are asked to provide the following:

  • External Market Information: industry size/trends and market share by channel (e.g. home improvement, wholesale, mass, etc.);
  • Point of view on market share and penetration of brands and key product attributes in retailers’ assortments;
  • Product Cost and Attributes; and
  • Competitive Landscape (e.g., comp shops).

Total Retail Group generally executes over 40 product line reviews annually and has participated in several hundred since we started the business in 2008.  We have developed tools to help with every aspect of preparation from market sizing to competitive landscape monitoring. We are experts in understanding competitive costs and translating from target landed costs to FOB costing at the factory in order to offer products at costs that can win the review.  We understand the backend programs at most retailers, and we know which discounts are fixed and which are negotiable. Therefore, we can help to ensure that the manufacturer remains profitable amid the Gross to Net pricing.

Our team has significant experience in Consumer and Shopper insights as well as a tool called eCompShop to provide Competitive Intelligence.  We often use these tools early in line review preparation to help our clients’ product team target gaps in the assortment where innovative features can win new business and provide extra sales and profitability.  Later in the PLR process, we use these same insights to help position our client’s products vs the competition.

Total Retail Group also works with clients to perfect packaging, signage and visual merchandising for the line review to ensure that all elements of the set work to sell the product in the right way.  Often using Path to Purchase insights, we can show the manufacturer and retailer new ways to go to market and maximize sales.

Relationships also play a role in Product Line Reviews but often very different from what manufacturers imagine.  In the modern age of retailing, it is exceedingly rare for business to be awarded based primarily on relationships; however, retailers want to work with people who they like and trust.  Often a new vendor will lack these relationships and the tribal knowledge needed to win that trust. The last thing a buyer wants is to bring in a new Vendor and have them fall on their face. Total Retail Group can help to bridge the trust gap - buyers know that we know how to navigate their systems and that we do enough diligence on our clients to understand that someone we bring in is not going to fail.  Typically we, working with our clients, are able to bring a level of knowledge and insights to a line review that exceeds the incumbent vendor, even when they have held the business for decades.

PLR Awards may take three to six months. Decision criteria will include some or all of the following:

  • Net Pricing Bid
  • Product Capabilities including quality, innovation and value
  • Ability to achieve metrics on fill rates, lead times, turn times
  • Visual merchandising; Enhancing the shopping experience
  • Financial stability & strength of its brand(s)
  • Experience within the retail industry
  • Quality and thoroughness of the information provided

Post line review Total Retail Group engages with the buyers to answer questions, deal with quotations and follow up as opportunities emerge.

If you win a line review, the detailed work of execution begins and we start the Total Retail Engagement Process to successfully launch and optimize the business.

Hear it for Yourself

  • “The market research from Premium was absolutely essential to our successful launch at retail. Not only did it help us refine our approach to the market including pricing and packaging, the data was critical in convincing the merchant to move forward.”

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