What Problem are you Solving?

What Problem are you Solving?

Gary Hawkins, CEO, Center for Advancing Retail and Technology


I see a lot of solutions that focus on the fast moving consumer goods retail sector - retail like supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores, and discount stores. And when I say a lot I mean hundreds and even over a thousand solutions each year. For these solution providers, be they established firms or young innovators, many of them are challenged to effectively communicate their value proposition.

Too often technology providers want to immediately launch into features and functions and why their technology is special. What prospective retailers want to hear though is what problem you are going to solve for them or what opportunity do you help open up. And retailers are busy people, they don’t want to sit through an hour long presentation about how cool your technology is before they figure out what you can do for them. 

Go look at your sales deck, the presentation you typically use. If you’re not communicating within the first three slides how you are going to help the retailer you are at risk of losing them. If it’s an initial meeting, keep your deck short - ideally no more than ten or so slides and then, if possible, do a demo of your capability. 

Its also important to speak the retailer’s language. If you have good knowledge of the retail industry and how retail works, then great; that knowledge will come through quickly and give the retailer confidence you know what you’re talking about. If you are not familiar with retail, yet you think your solution has potential for retailers, be up front when you have a meeting. Tell the retailer you’re meeting with that you don’t know a lot about their business but you believe you have something they may be interested in. Experienced retailers can detect within the first few minutes if you know what you’re talking about or not.

Lastly, it’s always a good practice to visit the retailer’s stores and familiarize yourself with their operations and digital presence before you sit down for a meeting. Retailers appreciate solution providers who take the time to gain some understanding of the retailer’s operations.

About the Author

Gary Hawkins is the founder and CEO of the Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART) and leverages his unique knowledge and view to new technologies to shape the future of FMCG retail. He can be reached at gary.hawkins@advancingretail.org

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