May 2024

Driving value in Direct Store Delivery: Buyer

by Nick Capuano & Jordan Mullins

Back to insights

Driving value in Direct Store Delivery: Buyer

May 2024 by Nick Capuano & Jordan Mullins

Back to insights


There are many players in the complex system of Direct Store Delivery (DSD), where suppliers and retailers must partner to achieve mutual success. Now let’s look at the Buyer—more than just a negotiator, the Buyer holds significant influence in delivering the success of their stores and creating value for their customers.

We’ll delve deeper into the key role of Buyers and shed light on their ability to drive value and enhance partnerships. Through examples illustrating the behaviors of good, better and best Buyers, we’ll uncover opportunities to maximize value within DSD collaborations.

This knowledge and implementation of advisement are a core part of The Gap Partnership’s consulting services.

The role of the Buyer: Orchestrating value creation

Buyers serve as the bridge between retail stores and suppliers, responsible for sourcing products, negotiating terms and ensuring seamless distribution. Their decisions significantly influence store offerings, customer satisfaction and overall profitability.

The good Buyer: Foundation of communication and collaboration

A good Buyer ensures that products meet store requirements and align with consumer preferences. Key characteristics include:

  • Objective alignment: Communicate store needs and objectives clearly to suppliers, ensuring products meet quality standards and are delivered on time.
  • Supplier relationships: Maintain positive relationships with suppliers, fostering open communication, addressing any issues promptly and facilitating the exchange of crucial information.
  • Basic strategic alignment: While focused on store goals, they may overlook deeper strategic alignment with suppliers, potentially missing opportunities for mutual growth and value creation.

While a good Buyer establishes alignment, their influence often remains within the boundaries of routine collaboration.

The better Buyer: Strategic insight and innovation

Advancing beyond routine collaboration, a better Buyer infuses strategic insight and innovation into their approach. Key behaviors include:

  • Proactive partnership: Actively engaging in discussions with suppliers to understand upcoming initiatives and collaborate on impactful strategies.
  • Data-driven decision-making: Leveraging sales data and market insights to inform strategic decisions, ensuring that plans are rooted in empirical insights.
  • Proactive problem-solving: Collaboratively addressing challenges, leveraging cross-functional teams to identify innovative solutions that drive performance.
  • Performance analysis: Monitoring key performance indicators, analyzing data to drive continuous improvement and identifying growth opportunities.

The better Buyer’s actions extend beyond routine collaboration, leveraging strategic thinking to amplify the value they bring to the partnership.

The best Buyer: Creating value through Collaboration

At the pinnacle of the Buyer hierarchy lies the best, the champion of collaborative value maximization and innovation. Their behaviors transcend tactical thinking, reflecting a comprehensive understanding of the retailer’s ecosystem and the potential of the DSD model. The best Buyers demonstrate:

  • Comprehensive ecosystem understanding: Possess a deep understanding of market dynamics, consumer trends and supplier capabilities, allowing for strategic decision-making that benefits all stakeholders.
  • Innovative initiatives: Conceptualize and execute collaborative initiatives, such as joint marketing campaigns, product launches and co-branded promotions.
  • Comprehensive data Utilization: Employ advanced data analytics to uncover hidden opportunities, refining strategies to optimize outcomes for both parties.
  • Innovative Problem-Solving: Engage in joint problem-solving with suppliers, leveraging collective expertise to overcome challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities.
  • Inspirational leadership: Inspire cross-functional teams, fostering a culture of collaboration, accountability and continuous improvement.

The best Buyer’s actions are transformative, collaborative and aligned with overarching business objectives, creating value that permeates the retailer-supplier partnership.

Inside their head: Evan’s evolving environment

Evan, the best Buyer around, navigates a constantly evolving retail with unparalleled foresight and adaptability. Working for a chain of grocery stores historically catering to senior citizens, Evan astutely observed the shifting demographics of his customer base even prior to the pandemic. Analyzing store-level scan data, he noticed a rising influx of young families, who have increased disposable incoming, frequenting his locations.

Drawing from his comprehensive data utilization, Evan spearheaded an initiative to proactively collaborate with DSD partners to introduce innovative selections tailored to this evolving demographic, including organic options and hot prepared foods. His strategic vision also led to the introduction of unique concepts like a cheese and meat charcuterie counter, appealing to the growing demand for artisanal fare.

As COVID-19 accelerated the migration of urbanites to suburban areas, Evan’s forward-thinking strategy proved invaluable. While competitors struggled to adapt, Evan’s stores emerged as preferred destinations for the burgeoning suburban demographics, solidifying his position as an industry leader. Through proactive collaboration and strategic foresight, Evan not only captured new customer segments but also outpaced competitors by aligning offerings with shifting consumer preferences, illustrating the blueprint for success sin retail’s dynamic landscape.


In the complex world of Direct Store Delivery, the Buyer plays a critical role in fostering a strategic partnership that not only creates value but maximizes it. From establishing alignment to infusing strategic insight and championing mutual success, the journey from a good to the best Buyer represents an evolution toward collaborative excellence. Through visionary leadership and innovative thinking, the best Buyers ensure that value permeates not only within the partnership but also in the enduring success of suppliers, retailers and the broader customer base.

About the authors 

Nick Capuano, Senior Consultant, The Gap Partnership

Nick Capuano is a results-driven Senior Consultant at The Gap Partnership, based in Philadelphia, PA. With a career spanning over a decade, Nick has honed his expertise in business development, account management, and strategic leadership across various industries. His exceptional proficiency in delivering and facilitating core development workshops, coupled with his talent for building and maintaining positive collaborative relationships with clients, are fundamental drivers of his success.​

During his tenure as the National Business Development Manager at PepsiCo Foodservice, Nick led national new business initiatives in specialty retail, amusement, and fitness sectors. His exceptional abilities in prospecting potential customers, developing relationships with C-suite executives, and structuring national deals across all lines of business were pivotal to the company's success.

As the National Account Sales Manager at MFO Restaurants, Nick cultivated relationships with national customers, including renowned concepts such as Papa John’s, Little Caesar’s, Jersey Mike’s, Dairy Queen, and Capriotti’s. ​

His proficiency in understanding and managing customer organizations, utilizing personal influence and knowledge to achieve goals in a matrix environment, greatly contributed to the company's growth.

With a proven track record of success in strategic business development, relationship management, and leadership, Nick Capuano is a dedicated professional committed to driving excellence and achieving impactful results in every endeavor.

Jordan Mullins, Senior Consultant, The Gap Partnership

Jordan has spent the last 10+ years working and growing within the CPG industry, spending time with multiple Fortune 500 companies such as Coca Cola, Kraft Heinz, and Colgate Palmolive. During this time, he realized his passion not only for negotiation, but his desire to help his co-workers become the best versions of themselves, which led him to the Gap Partnership. ​

During his time prior to joining The Gap Partnership, Jordan was tasked with improving the processes for multiple national sales programs and being able to successfully train and deliver significant financial results across the organization simultaneously. Jordan has achieved a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration as well as a Master's in Business Administration from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania.​

Jordan is currently a Senior Consultant and is responsible for delivering our portfolio of workshops brilliantly across all sectors such as CPG, Retail, Oil and Gas, Automotive, and Pharma. ​

Jordan finds passion for helping all of the participants find who they need to be during these workshops while helping them implement these behaviors and reap the benefits of the program.

About The Gap Partnership

The Gap Partnership is a management consultancy specializing in negotiation. We help organizations drive profitability, increase efficiency and reduce cost.

Negotiation is an integral part of everything a business does. It exerts a critical influence on the profitability and market value of the organization.

At The Gap Partnership, we provide development programs and negotiation training to our clients. We work with you to understand your challenges and performance needs. Our negotiation consultants come from your industry and will support you with a 'complete' solution that embeds learning, measures capability and delivers sustainable change.

We hold ourselves accountable for your success. 70% of our business comes from clients we have worked with for over five years

If you require further information on how we can help you and your teams make the most of every negotiation, or simply need to ask us a question - just call, email or complete the form.

Enter your details to download the PDF

Nick Capuano & Jordan Mullins