Buyer’s Best Friend Seller FAQ
Buyer’s Best Friend (“BBF”) is an online catalog and ordering system for wholesale buyers, enabling them to research and buy products much faster, and in turn, enable sellers to launch product lines and new products more efficiently and effectively to those buyers. For sellers, BBF acts as a lead generation and order taking system for your reps and brokers and doesn’t compete for commissions or transactions fees. Sellers compensate their brokers and sales reps exactly as they do today.
BBF was founded by Adam Sah and Joyce Guan. Joyce is the founder of California Girl Foods, a food broker firm based in San Francisco, CA. When Joyce’s business took off and she had more accounts and products than she knew what to do with, and she realized that more and more buyers were comfortable doing research and business by email, it was clear that there could be a better way to sell. Adam Sah is a 20-year veteran in the technology business, including five years at Google, where he invented Google Gadgets. Together, Adam and Joyce have created a world-class product discovery and buying platform based on real-world requirements and feedback from wholesale buyers and sellers. You can read more about BBF on our About Us page: http://bbfdirect.com/about
For sellers, BBF is very simple:
Step 1: You send us your wholesale info (PDF, Word or HTML) and pricing (Excel is best, but PDF or Word is ok).
Step 2: BBF creates your producer page and lists your products
Step 3: You receive email with orders from buyers
Step 4: You fulfill the orders and process payment (either charge a credit card or send an invoice, depending on your payment terms)
A basic selling listing on BBF is free, and this allows buyers to log in, view info on your company and products, and place orders for your products. BBF does not take a transaction fee or commission on any orders you receive. In the future, free listings contain ads and be limited in other ways.
BBF makes money in two ways: (1) marketing/promotions which make you money, e.g. holiday promotions, brokering/pioneering services, etc. - and (2) sales automation tools which save you time and money, such as mobile order taking, “portals” which replace the need to invest in a wholesale website, etc. Typical packages start at $125/month with one-year commitment so we can plan promotions, optimize campaigns, and manage sales automation rollouts, and we have an excellent record with paid clients. From time to time, we offer less expensive “trial” packages for small sellers-- please ask us if you’re particularly price sensitive.
BBF is currently a system for wholesale buyers only, so BBF isn’t appropriate for your company. If you decide to sell to wholesale buyers later, please get in touch with us!
When you have more capacity, please contact us to sign up for BBF. We can also automatically send you a reminder-- just tell us the earliest date you think you’ll have capacity.
A free BBF listing can still make sense if (a) you want to reach BBF’s network of brokers and distributors, or (b) one of your existing distribution partners can ship small orders-- and since it’s very easy to get listed, there’s little reason to not do it. Send us your wholesale brochure (PDF, Word or HTML) and price sheet (Excel is best, but PDF is OK) and we’ll do the rest.
A paid BBF subscription makes sense if either you’re looking for sales automation. Examples include (a) reducing the number of hours per week your team spends entering orders, (b) having your buyers order for themselves, (c) being able to take orders in the field or (d) replacing the need for a wholesale website, catalog and order-taking system.
If you aren’t looking to increase your revenue or work more efficiently with your accounts, BBF may not be able to help you.
As with anything, you can always wait to join BBF-- but our early manufacturers will get the most exposure, as well as access to new beta features. Over time, some of our introductory pricing may go up as well.
Meanwhile, BBF requires zero technical skills: if you can use email, you can use BBF, just like 100s of other companies are doing.
If your DSD staff (or outsourcer) also handles product delivery, i.e. they bring the product with them, then BBF won’t be appropriate for you. If your DSD contractors handle order-placing and merchandizing and delivery is handled separately (e.g. shipped directly to the store), then BBF is a great way to significantly reduce the paperwork and burdens of your sales process by working with the existing cel phones that your DSD staff own. Please contact us for more information.
To receive orders, you’ll need an email address. If you’d like to update your BBF producer page yourself, you’ll need to update a simple spreadsheet. You can view details on how to edit your BBF producer spreadsheet here: http://tinyurl.com/BBFSpreadsheetEditing.
While you can sign up later, it will be more difficult to stand out from other producers as the BBF catalog grows. In addition, there are special beta features that we’re offering for free now which may no longer be free later. BBF is quickly becoming a powerful buying tool for wholesale food buyers, and you’ll maximize the benefits of being on BBF by joining early, before your product category is flooded with manufacturers.
You can technically do this, but we don’t recommend it. Buyers use BBF because we have the most comprehensive, up-to-date information about hundreds of producers, including the newest products available from each producer. If your producer page doesn’t have information on all of your products, buyers are much less likely to order through your BBF producer page.
Yes! BBF buyers range from grocery stores, specialty stores, natural/health stores, gift stores, hotels, and corporate campuses. The BBF catalog contains products that are relevant to all of these buyers. Categories that we focus on include but aren’t limited to: food, personal care, cleaning products, kitchen/housewares, and other products that grocery stores might carry.
But, with non-food items, sales can be spotty so we recommend starting with a free listing-- simply send us your catalog (brochure PDF, price sheet XLS).
For larger companies, BBF is primarily useful for sales automation-- reducing the cost and hassle
Buyers large and small use BBF to research and order products. Independent stores and regional chains use BBF to research products and place their orders. Large chains use BBF to do product research and request samples, and most of the time will place orders using their own PO and purchasing systems. BBF is valuable as a marketing tool for gaining exposure to these buyers.
Updates can be made one of two ways:
1) Send your updates to BBF and we’ll update your producer page (this is a service for Paid BBF Sellers)
2) When we create your page, we will share with you a link to your producer page information. To edit, sign in with a Gmail account (create one if you don’t have one: http://gmail.com/) and edit the information in your browser.
Note: the "freshness" of the data is used in ranking search results and in other places, so we strongly recommend logging in and updating your products at least once per quarter.
BBF does not process payments. Instead, you receive emails with orders from buyers which will include the billing and shipping info, and what products were ordered. All you need to do is process the payment (credit card or send an invoice, depending on your payment terms) and ship out the product to the buyer. Sellers with Premium (paid) listings can log into BBF to view and download your entire order history. You may also import your BBF orders directly into order entry systems like Quickbooks, SAP, NetSuite, and more.
Every seller on BBF is different - some get orders right away, and others don’t get orders for a while. One way to increase exposure to buyers and order volume is to become a paid seller, which includes a suite of promotion tools to buyers.
Sellers are responsible for shipping or delivering orders to wholesale buyers; BBF does not take any inventory of product.
When you ship out orders to buyers, you will either process a credit card number (passed on to you by BBF) or send an invoice to the buyer (BBF will pass on to you the credit references for buyers who request terms). This depends on the terms you offer to buyers (some sellers require credit card, others offer terms based on receiving a credit application). You are responsible for following up with buyers on unpaid invoices.
No - BBF acts like an online broker in that we route orders from buyers to sellers, but we don’t take commissions or transactions fees. A basic listing on BBF is always free - we do offer paid plans for sellers and brokers which include more promotion to buyers through featured placements throughout the system, email promotions, and brokered introductions and recommendations to buyers. Brokers and sales reps love BBF because orders from their buyers just roll in, freeing up their time to open more new accounts, pursue larger/strategic accounts, and spend more time making their existing accounts successful.
BBF includes buyers small and large, so it really varies on demand for your products, your product branding and pricing, and the target market for your product. You can see example transactions on our homepage: http://bbfdirect.com
If you are not able to fulfill an order for any reason, you may simply respond to BBF and the buyer. We just ask that you respond to all orders, samples requests, and product inquiries in a timely manner.
No; you are not required to send samples to everyone, and if you usually charge for sample product, shipping costs associated with samples, or both, you can indicate this on your BBF producer page.
As with orders, you handle payment processing.
BBF is a network of thousands of buyers and brokers nationwide, with over 300 stores regularly receiving product through orders placed on BBF. We work with grocery stores, specialty stores, natural/health stores, hotels, gift stores, and corporate campuses. Buyers are excited about BBF because it provides them with easy access to new products, and enables them to more efficiently place orders.
The word is getting out quickly about BBF and we have new buyers signing up for BBF every day. In addition to outreach through BBF, buyers find out about BBF through referrals from other buyers, manufacturers, and brokers.
Currently, 99.83% of our buyers are referred by brokers and manufacturers-- the other 0.17% find us online and at trade shows, and we contact their companies to verify their employment.
We currently have over 300 sellers on BBF, representing over 12,000 SKUs.
BBF is working - both in helping buyers discover and order new products more efficiently, and in generating sales for our sellers. Here are a few customer success stories, visit www.BBFdirect.com to view more.
"Before considering a new product line, I ask BBF to get them onto the system. It's so much easier to work with vendors this way!"
Kate Dunham, Buyer,
Bi-Rite Market (San Francisco, CA)
We're a new brand that joined two months ago - BBF is helping us quickly sell out this year's harvest!"
Maureen Cole, CFO,
Owens Creek Company (Menlo Park, CA)
"I had been trading calls and email with a particular store for a while...but nothing happened until we got on BBF. Within days of being listed on BBF, that store placed their first order!"
Daniel Sklaar, Founder,
Fine & Raw Chocolate (Brooklyn, NY)
You can view a listing by category of all manufacturers on BBF here: http://www.bbfdirect.com/categories.
Sales reps love BBF because it helps them service buyers more efficiently, spend more time opening new accounts, work with larger accounts, and help existing accounts be more successful with your product line. In addition, BBF decreases the amount of time spent on data entry: by using BBF on the iPad, sales reps can place orders in-store and eliminate hours of data entry every night. By having your buyers place their own orders, your sales reps and customer service people save hours of time.
BBF is a powerful customer acquisition and sales automation tool which should more than pay for itself in decreased sales costs, and increased sales volume.
If your products are fulfilled entirely through distributors, BBF would be a marketing tool for your product lines. We currently support orders that are fulfilled directly, not through distributors so you won’t be receiving orders through BBF. However, by being listed on BBF you receive access to thousands of buyers who are regularly researching new products, who will contact you if they are interested in your product line.
Brokers love BBF because it enables them to service more buyers and sell more products. It also makes new product line/new product introduction easy - instead of calling or visiting each buyer every time a new product is available, brokers can quickly and easily communicate this to buyers. Brokers struggle to cross-sell all of their product lines, and BBF is an extremely cost-effective way to get all of their product lines online very quickly.
Sellers put their products online and can sign up for the BBF Paid Seller plan. Brokers may either respond to leads and orders that come in through BBF, or in addition pay for their own broker portal (featuring their product lines), receive premium placement in the BBF broker directory, place orders on the BBF iPad Edition, and have a system for entering in orders.
BBF is a tool that helps brokers and distributors be more effective and be more successful. To be listed on BBF, you agree to honor any existing territory and commission agreements that you have with your brokers, sales reps, and brokers. Instead of taking a commission and creating channel conflict with your existing sales team, BBF supports them and increases their success.
BBF is designed to work *with* sales reps and brokers: it handles the routine work freeing reps/brokers to answer complex questions and negotiate complex deals.
Finally, BBF doesn’t charge a transaction fee - a basic listing is free, and if you want more promotion to buyers, you can pay for a premium listing. Our premium seller plans start at $99/month. For all but the smallest sellers, we recommend combining a premium listing with a traditional broker/distributor network.
Wholesale buyers now rely extensively on online research as a buying strategy, so your buyers are researching and finding your competitors every day already. By becoming a paid BBF seller, you have the opportunity stay top of mind and gain exposure. One of the most powerful things about BBF is it is a highly targeted group of users - every view of your featured placements will be much more potent than in the open web.
BBF only allows qualified wholesale buyers to log in, and reviews each account submission to ensure that the user is indeed a qualified wholesale buyer. Each BBF producer has a public BBF page which has photos, descriptions, and suggested retail prices for products, but confidential wholesale pricing, business terms, and advanced information can only be viewed when buyers log in.
You should list your standard wholesale pricing on BBF. If you offer volume discounts, you can describe how to qualify for volume discounts on your BBF producer page.
Yes-- use BBF to reach large accounts and distributors, then use distributors to reach smaller accounts. One trick: distributors are much more likely to stock your products if you can give them customers, so if you can afford to discount the shipping cost, use small accounts to attract distributors. One exception: small accounts willing to do case stack deals can work. On BBFdirect.com, if you wish to avoid small accounts, simply just list a high minimum order size, e.g. 10 cases.
While both versions allow buyers to place sample requests and orders for your products, Premium Listings include promotion both online and offline to ensure that you grow your business with new accounts. Premium Listings start at $125/month and require a 12-month commitment, so we can plan promotions and tune campaigns.
BBF premium listings pay for themselves, and in aggregate, premium listings drive over 3 times the sales volume as free listings. Paid sellers enjoy greater visibility among buyers-- on the bbfdirect.com website, in email, and in person.
Most brokers and distributors handle a regional territory, so it's not reasonable to have one broker pay for the benefit you receive nationwide. Moreover, broker relationships change over time and the brokers only realize the short term benefits of BBF, whereas you as a company can maintain long term relationships with all of your accounts, as well as benefit from the marketing/branding exposure you get.
To sign up for the paid version of BBF, simply email Joyce Guan at sales@BBFdirect.com.
Yes-- BBF offers different (low cost) pricing tiers for different scales of sellers, as well as sales automation packages for brokers, sales reps and buyers, all in the $49-$499/month range. Contact sales@BBFdirect.com with info on your needs.
Yes, we’re open to discussing all sorts of low cost ways to work together, including advertising, job posting, customized versions of BBF, and more. Contact sales@BBFdirect.com to learn more.
One of the BBF innovations is how to quickly and inexpensive create rich e-catalogs-- it’s so cheap for us, that we give it away and make money on premium services.
Sorry! To protect pricing and other confidential info, only qualified buyers can login to BBF-- but we’re happy to show you some example pages.
BBF is a new open-standards platform integrating best-of-breed components from Google (Apps, App Engine, etc.) and other sources-- originally, we looked into consumer e-commerce software but decided that the requirements for wholesale were too different. Adam’s team has built numerous platforms before, with 100% success.
BBF is entirely focused on and optimized for wholesale buyers, sellers, brokers, reps and distributors. Due to the fast-changing nature of technology, we don’t comment on other companies’ products.
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