5 ways to get new products onto retail store shelves
Here are five important tips to help you get started on your sales and marketing plan.
1. Get Feedback
Get in front of buyers from day one, and then get their feedback. The goal should be to gauge your buyers’ reaction to your product. Try to get people really interested in buying from you before you invest too much time and effort into a product. One great way to get in front of buyers is to exhibit at trade shows.
Try out different techniques to engage your potential buyers and to find out how to sell your product.
2. Be Receptive
Listen to retail buyers during the development process. Even businesses that start selling early in their development are sometimes too focused on convincing buyers of the new product’s merits, and not concerned enough with finding out what their buyers actually think. Set aside your passion to make sure that you don’t respond negatively to criticism or write off ideas that may increase the marketability of your offering.
Listen to feedback from buyers, and then reshape your idea and your product to fit what they actually want. It’s really about understanding what the point of need is in the marketplace, and the best way to do that is to talk to prospect buyers and validate, validate, validate your product.
3. Start Small and Local
Even if your goal is to get your product into a national chain store someday, it’s best to start small and local. An independent retailer can make decisions faster and can give you valuable feedback on what makes your product sell, unique merchandising ideas and a pricing strategy that works.
And if you are trying to get picked up by a small or regional retailer, tell them that you’re looking to stay local for now. This suggests a level of exclusivity that many local and independent retailers may find appealing.
4. Offer Incentives
Faced with pressure to make early sales, many businesses offer price discounts in order to close initial deals, which can establish unsustainable pricing practices with those buyers. And news of the discounts can spread around small industries, limiting your product’s long-term pricing power.
Find alternative sweeteners to close early deals, such as free shipping, extended dating terms or a prompt payment discount on orders placed before a certain date. And if you’re going to offer temporary opening order discounts, it’s smart to put the terms in writing.
5. Be an Expert
Become an expert in your product’s industry and share your knowledge of trends, news and what’s working in the market with buyers. This information shows that you know your business and that you can help them grow in dollars and market share with your new product.
When you’re knowledgeable, buyers will see you as a low-risk business. Retailers will listen to your advice, trust your motives, seek to build a relationship with you and ultimately, they will be more likely to buy your product.
Gerry Spitzner is a business management consultant who works with retailers and suppliers on their business model/concept to create a competitive advantage. He draws from his experience as an executive in regional retail operations, multi-store ownership, as a supplier in the wholesale supply-chain and as consultant. His practical advice for leadership, management, marketing and business innovation creates clear and compelling value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability. He is a regular speaker and seminar leader at Small Business BC.