Whether you are an inventor or a clothing designer, you need an outlet for your products whether it is the retail store across the street or Bloomingdale’s. Of course, the bigger the store, the greater the chances for success.
But the problem is: how do you get your products into the shelves of these retailers? You basically have two options: get the know the CORRECT buyer for each store you want your products to be sold; or hire a distributor or manufacturer’s representative to do the pitching job for you. A sales rep is often the easiest route because they already know the buyers of these big stores, they have an established relationship with the buyers, and they know the type of information and paperwork the buyers require.
If you are going to do it yourself, here are some tips:
1. Know the retailer. Before even talking to the store buyers, research the store and why they will benefit from having your products on their shelves (it’s a two way thing: you win when they win). Check if your target audience for the product shops in that store. Find out if the retailer is selling products similar to yours; if if they do, what are the advantages of your products over the current offerings.
2. Understand that buyers of big companies and mass retailers are often hesitant and wary in dealing with new suppliers with unproven track records. They don’t know you and your products, and whether you will be a good fit for the store. In fact, most buyers prefer to deal with sales reps.
3. Anticipate the concerns and questions of the buyer. You need to do your homework well before your meeting with the buyer, and this includes having proof that your products are ready for the primetime. Buyers will want to know:
- that the product is finished, including packaging
- who else will be selling the product
- whether you have to resources to supply their store
- whether you can meet the demand for your product if it sells well
- whether you have adequate product liability insurance
- whether your product comply with safety, legal, labor and other regulations (imagine the horror of the buyer if he/she approves your products and it turns out your products are produced in a sweat shop!)
4. Use tradeshows. One of the easiest and best ways to attract the attention of buyers is through tradeshows. Make every effort to participate and showcase your products in the best and biggest tradeshows in your industry. Buyers prowl these tradeshows looking for new and interesting products — and they just might see yours!
I will write more on this topic and give you more tips!