Friday, July 26, 2013

Top 5 Tips on How to Get Your Products on Retail Shelves


You have a new product that you think would be perfect for big box retailers, but you are not sure how to get your products on their stores shelves. Maybe you’ve tried to reach out to these major retailers and you can’t seem to get a buyer meeting. Or maybe you’ve hired a manufacturer’s rep that isn’t supporting your business in the way that you hoped. Whatever it is for you, the following quick tips and strategies will help you get started today! 

Tip #1 - Go Direct: Any time you reach out to a big box retailer about a new product, they always ask you to fill out forms and submit your new product on their vendor website. And most product companies follow this protocol!


The truth is that retail sales professionals (manufacturer’s reps) do the exact opposite. They find the contact information of the retail buyer, reach out to them and avoid vendor websites until absolutely necessary. 

Retail sales professionals want answers quickly which is why they contact the buyer FIRST to get feedback about their product. If there is interest, the retail sales professional will happily follow protocol and fill out any forms when necessary. 


Therefore, if you want to get your products on retail shelves more quickly - contact the buyers direct. It will save you a tremendous amount of time and headache. The trick is to know how to talk to buyers and what to say to them to make them buy--it's actually easier than you think!

Tip #2 - Spend More Time on Packaging: When you check out a product on a store shelf, you are typically looking at the packaging of the product NOT the actual product itself. Therefore, buyers really care about packaging because it determines whether or not their customers will buy! 

That is why it is imperative that you spend more time, money and effort on packaging. Buyers will rarely ever make a purchasing decision without seeing packaging first.

So how do you know if your product packaging is on point for chain store retailers? One simple strategy is to check out their store shelves! It will tell you what the buyer wants in terms of packaging.

The buyers purchased your competitors products and therefore agreed to the size, shape and type of packaging your competitors created. That is why a great first step is to go to their stores and see how your competitors are packaging their products.

Tip #3 - Vendor Day: Some chain store retailers have something called ‘vendor day.’ What they call it varies, but vendor day is essentially a day of the month or quarter (depending on the retailer) where the buyer spends time reviewing new products. During vendor day, buyers typically review several new vendors in 15-30 minute increments.

If you’re having trouble getting a chain store to notice your product, then consider finding out if they have a vendor day.

The only issue I have with ‘vendor day’ is that I am competing with several other competitors on a given day. That is why I prefer utilizing other methods to get a meeting with a chain store buyer. But if you are stuck and you just want to get a meeting with a retailer, this can be a great first step!

How do you get a ‘vendor day’ meeting?’ The next tip (tip #4) will show you how!

Tip #4 - Make Friends with Assistant Buyers: Assistant buyers are AWESOME resources for helping you get your products on the shelves of chain store retailers. Always treat assistant buyers with respect.

Most people think ‘assistant’ and assume that they are just ‘paper pushers.’ This is absolutely NOT the case with chain store retailers. Not only do most assistant buyers become buyers within a year, but assistant buyers can also set up appointments for vendor day! You have no idea how many times assistant buyers haven’t helped me get products into stores. They can only help you in your quest of selling to chain store retailers.

Tip #5 - You Don’t Have To Be a Big Company to Sell to Major Retailers: The truth is that buyers care more about finding the 'right' product for their stores then they care about the size of your company. So please don’t assume that you cannot get your products into chain store retailers if you are a small company.

Times have changed – buyers can no longer ignore the small product company because they are the ones that are coming out with all of the cool new products!

Plus, retailers are dealing with a tremendous amount of competition these days, so they are always on the lookout for that next new product.

So if you have product that you think would be perfect for chain store retailers...take a chance and make it happen!

To Your Success,
Karen Waksman

About the Author: Karen Waksman Retail MBA is a Manufacturer’s Rep turned Author, Speaker and Consultant. She has sold millions of units to the world's largest retailers and now teaches her proven strategies on how to approach, pitch and sell to major retail buyers to the 'underdog' supplier - the small to mid-size product company that just want to get their products into stores!


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