You may have just developed the next breakthrough product that every household needs, but without the right help to market it to the appropriate demographic, no one will ever know. To be a successful entrepreneur, you must get your product on shelves where customers can find it.
What Is Product Distribution?
Just as it sounds, product distribution is a way of distributing your product to retailers such as Walmart, Costco or Best Buy where customers can see it, try it, and fall in love with it.
Unfortunately, in most instances, you can’t just walk into stores such as these and ask them to carry your product. Rather, you must go through the proper channels to score that coveted space on an end cap, in an aisle or on a cardboard display unit. A distributor can help you accomplish this.
However, to interest a distributor, your product must be retail-ready, from the packaging to the availability. A retail consultant is a go-between that can help you prep your product for distribution. This, in a nutshell, is how to get a distribution deal for your product.
Do I Need a Distributor for My Product?
There are many ways to sell products. For instance, you could sell directly from your website or online store. You could also sell through a large online retailer, such as Amazon. Possibly, you could put your product in big box stores, such as Walmart or Best Buy.
For these reasons, the first question you must ask yourself is whether you really need a distributor to achieve your goals. If you already own an online store, or if you sell directly from your website, it may not be worth the cost and effort to seek distribution. A distributor is a sort of middleman between you and your consumer base. Because they perform a valuable service, you must pay them, which can reduce your profit margin.
However, if you’re ready to scale up your sales and you have the manufacturing capabilities to mass produce your item, it could absolutely benefit you to work with a distributor who can help you grow your market. A distributor can usually get you into small, independent stores more easily than if you were to try by yourself. This is largely because they take much of the workload off the merchant.
This is why many small stores would rather work with a distributor than a manufacturer. A distributor often takes on the responsibilities of delivering the product, displaying it and keeping track of it. If it doesn’t sell, they typically retrieve it and issue vendor credits. The merchant can also work with that single distributor, who represents multiple brands, instead of with each manufacturer individually.
How to Find Distributors for My Product
You can make the circuit of trade shows or spend endless hours searching for wholesalers in your market in hopes of nailing down the best distributor. Then again, you could partner with a retail consultant who can do that work for you. Retail consultants already have hundreds of distributors on speed dial, and they can help you prep your product to make it highly attractive to the distributors who specialize in your type of item.
Whether you sell perishable items or body lotions, car accessories or boat motors, the right packaging and marketing campaigns are essential to getting them into the hands of grateful consumers. The benefits of working with a retail consulting firm are immeasurable. They take on multiple tasks that can help your product sell better, including:
- Getting your product to distributors and sales representatives
- Making sure store associates are knowledgeable about your product
- Checking in on store displays that feature your product
- Tracking sales
- Forecasting inventory
- Issuing vendor credits
- Running promotions
While you may be able to do all these tasks yourself, that could take up a hefty percentage of your time. By hiring a retail consulting firm to get your product out in front of the right distributors and onto the best store shelves, you’re making a solid move toward expansion. You can grow your business without burning yourself out in the process.
What Can I Expect Once I Find a Distributor for My Product?
Once you’ve found a distributor who is willing to represent your product, you’ll need to be market-ready. This means your product must be ready to meet consumers with appropriate packaging, a workable price point and an adequate supply.
You’ll also want to have a solid idea of your audience. Who’s buying your products? What age group? Are they male or female, young, single adults or older working couples? Knowing this information can help you choose a distributor who can get your product into the right stores. If you don’t have a handle on these essentials, a retail consulting firm is going to be your new best friend because this is exactly what they do — they help you prepare your strategy to make your product more attractive to distributors.
How do you plan to market your product? Your distributor can get you onto the store shelves, but it’s still your responsibility to charm your customers. These are all factors to consider when deciding how to get distributors to sell your product. Overall, it may be best to think of your distributor as a partner: They buy merchandise from you and from multiple other manufacturers, and then they sell that inventory to retail businesses. If your product doesn’t sell well, your distributor won’t want to continue buying it from you.
Therefore, it’s vital to have a hook that draws customers in and then a solid product to offer them when they purchase. A satisfied consumer should return to your brand again, making you and your distributor happy, which should lead to a successful and mutually beneficial working relationship.
How Can I Benefit From My Relationship With My Distributor?
The biggest benefit of working with a distributor is that they know how to put your product before a much wider audience than you might be able to find on your own. Ideally, this translates into more products sold and more profits generated.
However, there are other ways you, as the manufacturer, can benefit, too. Your distributor should store and ship your goods and deal directly with retailers, so you won’t have to. They should have sales reps to help push your product and alert retailers to promotions you’re running. They can also take care of the ordering, returns, vendor credits, forecasting and more. These are all tasks that are vital to business success. Instead of having to figure out how to do them on your own, your distribution partner can handle the heavy lifting.
Partnering with a distributor can free you to manufacture more products and strategize your marketing goals. It can be immensely helpful for entrepreneurs who are new to the table and who have few contacts or experience within the industry.
How Can My Distributor Benefit?
Your distributor wants to carry an item that sells, that’s readily available and that consumers seem to love. This is where your ideas on marketing come into play. It’s also where you must be able to meet demand. A distributor wants to work with manufacturers who stand behind their products. If something is defective or recalled for safety, your distributor wants to know that you have a solution, that you’re prepared to act quickly and that you plan to follow up after the fact to ensure customer satisfaction. As the manufacturer, you must be able to adapt to market changes. This may mean modifying how your product looks, how it fits on a store shelf or the ingredients used to make it.
It’s also important to have a strong business plan and to show proof of that to your distributor. Do you have the funds to invest in store associate trainings and signage? Will you be able to withstand the costs of startup and marketing? No distributor is going to invest in you if you haven’t first invested in yourself and your product. Be prepared to explain your product’s strengths, and then ensure those strengths carry through in your packaging and presentation.
This blog post was guest authored by our partners at Retailbound.
If you’re ready to learn more about how to get a distribution deal for your product, contact Retailbound today. We can help you showcase your product in its best light, managing promotions, consumer education, in-store training for associates, and online price management and marketing. We’re a one-stop-shop to get your item in front of the distributors who can sell it best.
Work With Us
Want to learn more about how we’d prepare your product for launch? Request a quote today.
Want To See This Advice In Action?
Check out our case studies and learn more about how we’ve achieved stellar results for our clients.