You dream of the day your product becomes a household name. (And I do too!) In order to get there, though, you'll either need to make your product go viral or get it on the shelves of a major, nationwide retailer.
Turning to Google in my quest for mass distribution, I realized there is not much information on how to go about seeking a huge retail partner. Over the past months, I've read countless articles and talked with consumer product experts on how to go about landing a major retailer.
The first option is more of a messy art than a science--no one can explain exactly how something goes viral.The second option is much more attainable, and is the focus of this article. Here are some practical tips you can use to pitch your product to the retailer of your dreams.
Do your research.
Every good pitch starts with thorough research.
First, make sure you know everything there is to know about your product. Who's your target customer? What's your product's USP? How many units do you sell per day, per month, and per year? Retailers will look for proof that your product is popular, so make sure you have plenty of numbers to show them.
Next, make sure the product fits in the retailer's lineup. Do your target customers shop at the store? Does it fill an existing gap in the product selection? (If your product overlaps with an existing product, it's probably not valuable to the retailer.) If your product were sold at the store, which shelf would it sit on?
Finally, look at the price. Does your product price fit with the store's general price range?
Once you've got your research, it's time to start knocking on doors.
Talk to buyers.
Buyers are constantly bombarded with pitches for random products, which means they're wary of new requests.
At this stage, almost anything goes, as long as you can get a face-to-face meeting with a buyer. Try LinkedIn, phone calls, snail mail, or any other avenues you can find to make contact. You may have to try several times before you ever get a response. You can get a list of buyers by contacting the retailer directly or searching the official website or Google for more information.
At this stage, you'll want to include a short but persuasive USP and a few details that clearly communicate why your product is something they should know about. All you need is to get a face-to-face meeting with a buyer.
Once you've gotten the meeting, it's time to make your presentation.
Make a persuasive presentation.
This is the big time. Your presentation has to be powerful, persuasive, and full of facts and figures that prove your product is better than the rest and will be a great benefit to the retailer.
Be ready to answer detailed questions about your business, product, production, and even where you expect the product to sit on the shelves or how many you expect to sell. Everything is fair game here.
If you're not a great public speaker, you might want to hire someone to coach you or make the presentation on your behalf. There are people who specialize in pitching to specific retail stores.
If you've done your research and proven to the buyer that your product is worth selling on their shelves, the next step is to discuss details like pricing and scheduling. Finally, you'll sign the paperwork to seal the deal.
Get ready for the big leagues
Big-box retailers like Target and Walmart are known for slashing prices on popular products. They'll also quote you a very low price on yours, likely lower than you're used to.
Before you sign any documents, make sure that you can make a sustainable profit with the margin they offer. If you can't afford to keep supplying them no matter how many sales come in, you're better off finding a different retailer to carry your product.
And remember, once your product is carried in multiple name-brand stores, your production will increase dramatically. Make sure you have the means to sustain production when the sales start rolling in.
Most nationwide retailers will test out your product in a handful of locations to make sure your product is successful and you can keep up with production. If everything goes well, they may put your product in more stores or begin to carry your product across the country.
Remember, big retailers are looking for new and popular products to stay competitive and increase profits. If you're confident that your product is a great addition to their lineup, you owe it to them to let them know.