I hear it a lot! How do I get my product noticed by retailers and how do I get a foot in the door. In today’s market, being able to stand out is becoming increasingly difficult, so here are some tips for product owners in presenting their products to independent retailers.
1. Align your thinking
Gain access by developing a quick and dirty retail list of stores you'd like to approach. Make sure that your product aligns with their current merchandising plans. Then reach out to decision makers and distributors and share a pitch package that includes a company profile, product information, and product samples.
2. Get straight to the point
Decision makers will only give you a limited time to pitch your product, so it is imperative to be well prepared with a concise presentation. Skip the story telling and get straight to the point. Provide critical data on your products—price points, product details, manufacturing capabilities, and data on consumer needs.
3. Know their needs
You'll have an advantage if you do your research to know what stores carry your competitors' products. It's also good to reach out to the stores that don't know they need your type of product yet. Regardless of whichever situation it is, understand how the stores would benefit and make sure they realise it as well.
4. Make a name for yourself
One of the best ways to get into stores is to build a solid following via social media sites, before you ever go in for your first meeting. Make a name for yourself, so they know your brand equity before you step foot into their business.
5. Sell to independents
Start small and sell to independents first. The more exposure and sales you get the better, creating legitimacy for your product, so you can then approach the bigger retailers.
6. Reach out to the gatekeepers
Networking is the fastest path into tight-knit, highly competitive markets. And there is nothing that gets attention faster than a personal introduction. Sometimes, decision makers are easier to reach than you might expect and may only be one or two levels removed from you. Use LinkedIn and other platforms to discover how your contacts can help you into the gatekeeper's centre of attention.
7. Slow and steady wins the race
Start off with growing your business and building your brand, get the product into enough local stores before going national. Make sure your business is ready for the large margins and low volumes they will demand from you just to be in a "national" store.
8. Prove yourself
The biggest issue for many retail chains dealing with a small business is whether the supplier is going to be able to keep up. That's why many businesses start by supplying smaller stores. It's not impossible to skip that step, but you have to be able to show that you'll be able to keep up with demand and handle working with a big chain.
9. Eat and sleep procurement
The bigger groups, especially the national ones, would have a procurement/buying department. These are the people who decide what to buy, from whom, and at what price. Mostly, the individual stores have very little say in such decisions, so your best bet is to—eat, sleep, and be best friends with the procurement folks for these bigger groups.
10. Be persistent and consistent
Every industry and product is different, but the one constant is those with persistence consistently have better odds of success. Try every angle, meet every person possible who can help you succeed and I promise you your passion will be rewarded eventually.
11. Find the right distributor
Distributors already have relationships with independent retailers. Put them to work for you, using their relationships to place your products. Small stores don't like to waste time they want someone who knows the system. Find a distribution partner who understands what type of customer you are targeting and has the relationships with retailers that serve your target market.
12. Big margins, quick turnover, small footprint
The best retail products have the highest margins, fastest turnover and smallest footprint—for the retailer. That means they make a lot of money selling your product many times over out of a small area. Not everything can be sold off the counter, so your product has to prove its place in-store without the aid of the prime location.
13. It’s all about win wins!
If you have something that no one else has, you are half way to getting your product ranged. There are lots of me-to products on the market, and for retailers products that represent incremental sales and profit are growing the pie for their business. If you are just presenting product that transfers sales from one supplier to another you may be growing your sales and market share, but not the retailers. It’s all about win wins!
Thanks for reading
Craig Matthews is the MD of Stock Box, with over 30 years industry experience in retail development, specialising in independent retail programs.