There’s no question that retail is a challenging industry to master. However, for inventors and small business owners, the rewards are often worth the hurdles it takes to get there. Retail distribution allows businesses to serve their products up to a different audience than online distribution, thus increasing their visibility and revenue.
However, entering retail distribution is complicated and requires a carefully planned strategy. To help, eight business leaders from Young Entrepreneur Council share their insights into what steps a company can take to move its invention or product closer to retail distribution and why those steps are likely to result in success.
1. Prove There Is A Need For Your Product
To get into major retail stores, you have to prove that there is a need or want for your product. One of the best ways to prove that is to get your product in front of as many people as possible to increase your sales. Go to vendor shows, sell in smaller stores first, create an online store to boost sales—do all of the above! Do whatever it takes to get higher sales to impress major retail stores. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
2. Be Clear What Problem You Solve
Retail is near and dear to my heart because Walmart was the first client I landed when I launched my first business. I did so by being super clear on the problem my product was solving for customers, and then developing a relationship with the right buyer. At the retail level, it often only takes one or two champions to believe in you to change your life. Find that person and begin adding value for them. – Brittany Hodak, Keynote Speaker
3. Have A Well-Crafted Line Sheet
Have a well-crafted line sheet to provide retailers right out of the gates. This documentation will be the store’s first impression of your product and help them gauge whether it will be a success and a strong fit for their customer base. Don’t only include your SKU details; also include details of the product story and brand mission. Stand out by standing in your values. – Matthew Podolsky, Florida Law Advisers, P.A.
4. Get Your Packaging Right
Something many aspiring entrepreneurs miss is getting their packaging right. Will your product physically fit in a brick-and-mortar retail store? Think of your packaging as the first impression it is. Is it catchy? Will retailers find it worth their space? Considering 64% of consumers buy a product off a shelf with no prior knowledge of it, packing is everything—it drives purchase decisions. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
5. Send Out Samples And Offers
Send out samples with the price list and offers. Then email the retailers figures and reports that are direct and more understandable. Be honest and think like the retail store owner instead of you, who is trying to sell something. Show what you would want to see if you were the buyer. – Daisy Jing, Banish
6. Offer Marketing Support
This may sound counterintuitive as most small businesses hope to partner with big retailers to leverage their larger customer base. However, retailers are also looking for mutually beneficial partnerships, so offer to drive shoppers to their stores as well (using your social media fanbase, email subscriber lists and advertising budgets). – Firas Kittaneh, Zoma Mattress
7. Have All Your Numbers In Place
When trying to land a big-box retail deal, it is essential to have all your numbers in place, especially those regarding scaling up in the future. Retail outlets want to know that you will provide consistently high-quality products on a regular basis. Being able to meet the increasing demands and having a clear plan in place will help convince them that they can rely on your company. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
8. Invest In Website, SEO And Social Media
Invest in your website, search engine optimization and social media content. Each of these things builds on each other and they are 100% free if you have the time. Blogging, infographics, videos, live demos—you name it—can now be optimized to target your buyers and business-to-business prospects. For retail, optimize first for Amazon and increase the number of testimonials and social proof for your product. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic
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