Getting your product into retail stores and onto retailer’s shelves is not easy. It takes a lot of time and effort. Before you go leaping ahead to that all important sale, first you must know how you will get your product to retailers and fulfill your contract. Not something you want to start working on after you’ve made that sale.
Preparing Your Product for Distribution Success
Depending on the type of retailer you are targeting there are several ways to get your product to their door. Retailers often belong to several different supply chains, each group focused on distributing and marketing different types of products. However, no matter if you are targeting a chain or independent retailer there is one common distributor they all deal with and that’s a wholesale distributor.
Sure it’s going to cost you some money, but they have the connections and trust of the retailers they do business with. And since wholesalers collect payments from retailers it means you can be paid by a single source and more often than not you will get paid faster. They can also provide you with many other exciting sales opportunities that you might not have thought of.
5 Tips for Working with Wholesalers
With these benefits in mind, it’s essential that you prepare your product for distribution success. To help you achieve that, here are five steps to take before starting a relationship with a wholesaler.
1. Be Ready For Market
Make sure your product is ready to go to market before approaching wholesale distributors. The product needs to be fully developed. This means no prototypes prior to contacting them. Distributors are not interested in representing products that are months away from full production. They are interested in finished products.
You should also know the cost and retail price point of your product, how to package it, market it, and supply the product if demand suddenly skyrockets.
More often than not, speed to market is more important than price.
2. Develop a Sales and Marketing Plan
Distributors will want to know how you are planning to market to retailers and consumers. Because at the end of the day; it is your responsibility to get people to buy your product. The supplier is always ultimately responsible for creating retailer and consumer demand.
Use every marketing resource you can to help drive demand and ensure retailers keep placing orders with your distributor. The most profitable products for your wholesaler and retailers are the ones that move and are replenished repeatedly.
3. Get References for Distributors to Approach
Your distributor is like a business partner. You need to make sure you can work together and that you’re on the same page. Just because someone says they’re willing to take on your product doesn’t mean they’re the right distributor for you. Do your homework and ensure that your companies are a right fit.
Go to tradeshows and ask retail buyers for references. Who would they recommend, based on your target demographic and ideal consumer? Set up your own trade booth and have plenty of material for potential distribution and sales teams. Make sure you get all their contact information and follow-up afterwards.
If you choose a great distributor, their customers should be happy to share their experiences.
4. Finding Your Target Market
The best way to have a successful partnership with a distributor is to ensure that you chose the one that can help you get to market as quickly as possible. Ensure that the distributor you choose is selling to your exact target market and know that they are successful at selling products to your target market, and how to get your product into retail stores.
One suggestion is to find out who distributes your competitors’ products or one who sells products that are complimentary to yours. And when I say competitors, I mean the ones that are selling a ton of product. Finding a distributor that represents similar and successful products will help get your product to market faster because they already know how to compete and win in that market. It also provides a great sales opportunity for the retailer, to create bundles and add on deals for multiple products, increasing the products revenue potential.
5. Understand Your Distributor
Learning what matters to distributors will help you find a company that will represent you more quickly. Your distributor is also your customer. Find out what matters to them when taking on new products. Different distributors might have a totally different approach to shipping, packaging, etc.
Bottom line – Finding the right wholesale distributor can help your product business in a big way!
Find Out More About Retail Distribution
Learn more about how to get your products into retails stores, by attending Small Business BC’s Retail Success: How to Get Your Product into Stores seminars, presented by Gerry Spitzner of retailSOS.ca. In the seminar, you will learn the terminology, technology and measurements retailers use to evaluate products for their stores, how the logistics and supply chain system works, and how to use this knowledge to approach retailers with your products.
Join the Small Business BC Meetup for industry expert talks, and a chance to network with fellow business owners and entrepreneurs.