Last Updated on July 19, 2021 by Dan Christoffersen
How do you get your product in stores? In this post you will learn how to get your products in stores and how to sell online.
That’s the million-dollar question every brand selling wholesale asked themselves at one point or another. In this blog post, we will help you get to that crucial step of getting your merchandise in those first stores.
If you are reading this, you might be a new brand eager to get those first sales to a local shop. Or perhaps an established business only selling online, wanting to venture into brick-and-mortar. Either way, getting your product in that first physical store is a milestone.
Below you’ll find our 7 tips to get your product in retail stores:
- Research how to get your products in stores
- Start small and local
- Use trade shows to get your merchandise in stores
- Know the retailers’ needs
- Show how your product differs from your competitors’
- Rethink your packaging
- Practice makes perfect
1. Research how to get a product in stores
If you want to get your product in stores, you need to do your research first. You probably already have an idea of what kind of stores you would like to see your product in – you might even have some specific ones in mind.
Even so, doing a bit of research is still a good idea. People running retail stores are busy (just like you), and if you are not prepared you risk wasting their valuable time. And that is NOT the best start if you want to get your product in their store!
Create a list of the retail stores you consider most relevant, and actually go visit them yourself. Pay attention to the layout of the stores, what assortment of products they carry, and if it is in fact a good match for your product. If you feel like it, you can strike up a conversation with the store owner to get a better understanding of their business and preferences.
When you’ve visited a good handful of stores, you should have a pretty good idea of which store that would be ideal to contact first.
2. Start small and local
You might have ambitions to get your product in thousands of stores all across the world. That’s great, and hopefully one day you will succeed.
But if you try to go from zero to a thousand retailers in a day – or a year for that matter – chances are that you will fail.
Instead, we recommend that you start small and local when trying to get your first product in stores. There are multiple reasons that this is a good idea:
Going for local retailers is faster, easier, and a great selling point for your product
First of all, going for local stores makes it a lot easier when you have to visit your list of stores.
Second, it makes it easier to get in touch with the owner of the store in person and establish a relationship. Retailers get bombarded with emails, so showing up personally will increase your chance of winning a spot on their shelves.
And last but not least, the store will most likely sell to the locals or people from the nearby towns. And it’s a great story for the store owner, when he or she can tell the customer that the product that they like (your product, of course) was designed and produced just nearby!
Going for small retailers makes it much easier to get directly in touch with decision-makers
If you are trying to get your product sold in larger retailers and chain stores, you will find that the process is longer and more troublesome. There is more bureaucracy, and they take longer to decide. Also, if you haven’t proven yourself and your product elsewhere, chances are slim that they will even consider talking to you.
At smaller stores, on the other hand, you are more likely to talk directly to the decision-maker; the store-owner. They don’t have to “check with the manager”, and if they like your product, they can have it on their shelves the next day.
3. Use trade shows to get your merchandise in stores
An alternative way to get in contact with retail stores is by attending trade shows. Trade shows are great for establishing relatively personal connections with a lot of potential store owners. But it is also costly to your business – both in terms of money and in terms of time.
Due to the cost, and the fact there are hundreds of different trade shows to choose from every year, you need to make sure that you only go to the most relevant ones. Once again, research is your friend.
At the trade show – and after
Even though trade shows are costly, and money might be tight, you shouldn’t skimp when you do actually attend a show. You’ll risk getting a booth in a backend corner, where there is close to zero foot traffic. And even though there are a lot of potential customers at a trade show, there is definitely also a lot of competition from companies selling products resembling yours.
So what to do? Well, you should try to stand out from your competitors. Luckily there are lots of ways to get ahead of your competitors at trade shows. Don’t go overboard, but try to be noticeable to potential new customers. Small handouts of inexpensive gadgets or snacks go a long way. Especially if your handouts are related to your products.
When the trade show is over you will hopefully go home with a bunch of new connections, potential retailers, and some confirmed sales orders as well.
Now it is important to follow up quickly. People lose interest fast, and if you act too slowly, you might experience losing one or several of the crucial sales orders that you just acquired. So get back to them as soon as possible.
4. Know the retailers’ needs
By knowing your retailers’ needs you’ll have an advantage. if you do your research to know what stores carry your competitors’ products and find the chains that don’t know they need your type of product yet you have already come a long way.
The most important thing to know is how the stores would benefit from having your product – and to make sure they realize it as well.
5. Show how your product differs from your competitors’
You know your products are unique, but when you’re pitching stores, it’s even more important to highlight what makes you different from your competitors.
Differentiation can help you find early success getting stocked in local stores, and get the word spread.
To make sure everyone remembers and understands what makes your products stand out, always made sure to emphasize three key things, for example:
- Your product is made with respect for the planet
- Your product is certified organic
- Your products price point is under $20
Being able to quickly tell people what makes your products different and having strong product differentiation is the key to getting into stores early on.
6. Rethink your packaging
Maybe you have only sold your products online, where you are able to provide descriptions, multiple images and even video-tutorials with your product. Maybe you have sold at trade shows where you can explain your product to your customer directly.
In a retail setting, your product has to stand out on its own and how do you do that? With your packaging! For a retailer to put your product on their shelves, your packaging has to pop.
Try to look at your product packaging with fresh eyes and ask yourself these questions:
- Does your packaging catch the buyer’s attention?
- Does it communicate your product’s benefits and values?
- What makes your packaging better than your competitor’s?
7. Practice makes perfect
Remember to practice your pitch – and then practice it again. Practice the highlights and respect the buying manager’s time. Practice in the mirror or in front of your family or your dog if you have to.
And make sure that you know your product inside out. This way you’ll be able to confidently answer any questions the buying manager may have – and that confidence will make your products even more intriguing.
You got your product in stores – what now?
Once you get your foot in the door at a retailer, it’s all about maintaining the partnership. Far too often, brands tend to neglect already acquired retailers in their eagerness to get new ones. It sounds strange, but they simply forget about them.
It should be pretty obvious that this is a complete waste of the effort you originally put into obtaining the partnership. You’ve spent a lot of time acquiring a retailer, and six months later you lose them.
To avoid this happening, you should make sure to keep a tight retailer/customer management relationship. That way you are always up to date with all of your retailers and will know if anyone needs special attention.
Make the ordering process convenient
Another important thing – if you want to keep your retailers, that is – is to ensure a smooth ordering process for your retailers.
Far too many brands rely on spreadsheets, email, and phone calls when selling to retail stores.
In 2021, this is just too old-school – and not old-school in the cool way.
Instead of these onerous ordering procedures, you should go digital with a B2B/eCommerce solution, aka a B2B webshop where you can sell online.
In fact, if you go with the right solution, you will also be able to handle your retailer management from there. And with a solution like Turis, you can handle your retailer management, product management, and digitize your B2B sales all in one platform.
Making the ordering process digital has a lot of other benefits aside from ensuring a smooth process for your retailers:
- Decreasing the risk of order errors
- Saves precious time and money
- Better customer retention.
And that’s just to mention a few. If you want to learn more about all of these benefits, we suggest that you read one of the blog posts below:
- A B2B eCommerce solution will ensure availability 24/7 and increased sales
- B2B eCommerce platforms: Save time and money going digital
- The 5 secret benefits of digital wholesale platforms
We hope this post has helped you learn more about how to get your product in stores – and how you keep your retailers happy as well.
Now it’s up to you. Get out there, knock on some doors, and get that shelf space for your product. We are rooting for you!