Here’s a piece of advice you might not want to hear: Your impressive product design alone isn’t going to bring in retailers.
But, what does your retail shelf space tell?
So, here’s a piece of advice you might not want to hear:
Your impressive product design alone isn’t going to bring in retailers. Sure, it’s important to create an innovative, high-quality product. But, in order to move your ideal retailer from appreciating your product to picking up the phone, dialing your number, and saying the following words: “Hey there, I’ve come across your amazing product and I see how it could be a hit in our stores. I would like to know more about how we can bring it in.” That requires a different type of strategy.
And here’s the 6-step blueprint to build that type of strategy:
Step 1: Thoroughly research your product category
Before anything else, dive deep into your product category. Visit stores and make notes about:
• What products are already on shelves
• How products are packaged and priced
• Empty spaces where your product could go
This research helps you understand what stores want. It also shows where your product fits in or stands out.
For example, if you make organic lip balms, study all the lip balms in natural grocery stores. Notice which flavors, scents, and ingredients are missing. Your coconut-citrus balm could fill that gap!
Step 2: Strategically choose potential retailers
Next, make a list of 10-15 stores that are a good fit for selling your product. Think about:
• Stores with shoppers who will want your product
• Locations near your manufacturing facilities for easier distribution
• Both small boutiques and larger chains
Having a mix of retailers gives you more chances to get sales. Even mom-and-pop shops can order in bulk if your product sells well for them.
For your lip balm, list natural grocers like Whole Foods along with yoga studios, salons, and boutique gift shops.
Step 3: Proactively contact buyers at each store
Now it’s time to reach out to your list of potential retailers. Look on their websites or call the store to find out who the buyer is for your product category.
Send the buyer a professional email with:
• A quick explanation of your product
• Photos showing your packaging and branding
• Your suggested wholesale price and minimum order size
• Offer to send free samples too!
This helps buyers experience your product firsthand. Follow up 2-3 times if you don’t hear back right away. Persistence pays off.
Step 4: Follow up with free samples and sell sheets
Great job getting a response! Your next step is to wow them by sending:
• Multiple free samples of each product for staff to try firsthand
• A professionally designed sell sheet with product details like: ingredients, sizes, pricing tiers, photos, company branding, customer service contact info, and wholesale account setup process.
• A friendly note encouraging them to reach out with any questions as they evaluate
Getting your product into buyers’ hands is critical. They can experience quality and see if customers give feedback after sampling.
A sell-sheet gives buyers all the vital details they need to confidently order inventory for their shelves.
Follow up again via email or phone in 2 weeks to answer any questions and gently remind them you’re eager to partner. Nurturing the relationship is key.
Step 5: Fulfill first orders quickly and completely
Once a retailer decides to carry your line, fulfill that first order accurately and rapidly.
• Ensure you have sufficient inventory on hand to completely meet their order size and avoid delays.
• Double check you can meet their minimum order quantity requirements
• Ship using attractive, durable packaging that both protects and beautifully displays your products
• Include easy re-order forms and your account rep’s contact information
Follow up after shipment to ensure 100% satisfaction. Overdelivering on your first few orders helps set the tone and build retailer confidence. They want reassurance you can reliably keep their shelves stocked. Go above and beyond on customer service here.
Step 6: Invest in marketing and merchandise displays
Your work as a supplier isn’t over once you land shelf space!
Two more areas to invest in are:
• In-store marketing
• Run demos, offer coupon samples, or ask about promoting your line in their print/digital ads.
Increase consumer awareness so more shoppers buy your products.
• Make sure your items are neatly displayed and prominently visible.
• Offer to deliver extra stock and help face shelves.
• Discuss using shelf signs, display stands or end caps to highlight your line.
This extra attention to marketing and merchandising boosts sales. When products sell fast, retailers are far more likely to reorder again and again.
Getting your physical products into retail takes time, strategic planning, persistence, and patience.
But the reward of profitable sales at multiple stores makes all your effort worthwhile.
Follow this 6-step retail launch process closely, and you’ll be ready to confidently approach retailers.
Before you know it, your products will be flying off shelves everywhere!
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