Retail Podcast 303: Bill Jackson on How Specialty Retail Brands Thrive

Bill Jackson on How Specialty Retail Brands Thrive

Bill Jackson

Tell me something good about retail

Bill Jackson on How Specialty Retail Brands Thrive


Three Huge Takeaways for Your Specialty Retail Brand

 On this episode of the Tell Me Something Good About Retail podcast, I am happy to welcome Bill Jackson.

 With almost 40 years in the retail industry, 20+ years at the Rockford Corporation, and almost a decade as the CEO of that corporation, Bill’s positions have given him extensive experience in multiple facets of retail, from manufacturing to the sales floor.

Rockford is in the mobile audio business. To put it in Bill’s words, “anything that rolls on wheels or floats in the water, we’ve got an audio solution for it.”

In the podcast, I found three takeaways that are extremely important for any specialty retail brand right now.

Stay Grounded

It’s easy to lose touch if you're not careful.

 Bill is heavily involved in Rockford’s manufacturing strategy. But he understands that if he wants to sell his product, he needs to stay in the trenches. This means talking to retailers on the sales floor. Recognizing what they need to ensure they are selling his product.

I have seen what happens to companies when they refuse to pay attention to this. You’ll have sales reps go and load up these retailers with all of their merchandise… but not give them any of the tools they need to effectively sell it.

Then, that merchandise is sitting on the shelves. And they won’t be buying from you anytime soon.

That is why, whenever you or your sales reps talk to your retailers, they can’t only be selling your product. They must add value.

Train Your Reps

Let me ask you a question. If you have reps in your client's store, and the client says the merchandise is not selling, what do your reps do?

If the answer is “nothing,” you have a problem 

We must be adding value for the clients if we expect them to sell our merchandise. How do we do that?


“It’s all about sell-through, having your brand merchandised correctly, having it set up right at retail.”

Bill emphasizes that this requires training. How can you expect your retailers to close a customer if your sales rep doesn’t know how? You must train them and give them to tools and resources they need to provide those solutions to the retailers

Ask Questions

Stakes are high for specialty brands right now. People have a lot more options on where they can spend their money today than they did in the past (including online).

Why are they going to buy from you?

Bill states (and I agree) that companies like Amazon are going to squash you like a bug if you try to beat them on price or distribution. They just have too much capital, and you cannot compete.

But we can focus on the spots the big guys can’t hit. The areas retailers are specialized for. “It’s about building that experience with that customer… building that next level of service that that online guy can’t do.”

Customers coming to buy your specialty product often don’t know much about it. They are expecting you to help them!

Even if they do know what they are talking about, understanding what the customer actually needs can help you form a connection and give you the insights to make a sale.

Either way, you do this by “[asking] the right questions.” If you can’t provide that tailored A+ service, that customer might as well go online.

So follow Bill’s advice: “God gave us two ears and one mouth… use them proportionately.”

 To learn more about Bill and Rockford Fosgate, you can go to their website or find them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at @rockfordfosgate.  

The stakes are high for specialty brands today. Learn what you can do to thrive in this tough environment with the President and CEO of the Rockford Corporation, Bill Jackson, on this episode of Tell Me Something Good About Retail.

Bill Jackson

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