The Road to Retail: Getting Your Products on Store Shelves

by Beth Rifkin

2 min read

One of the biggest hurdles for any new product developer is getting the product on the shelves of retailers. Those who execute market strategies, understand the latest industry trends, and reach out to retailers are the ones who have a jump on success. A lot more goes into earning that coveted spot on a well-known chain’s shelf than many merchandisers understand. Quite often, you have to start small and work your way up if you plan on expanding your customer base and making your brand a household name. By following a few tips, you can get your product in the hands of consumers and learn how to maximize profits.

Choose the Appropriate Industry

Begin your search by scouting out local stores. You’ll want to introduce your products in places that sell similar items to reach the greatest number of buyers. For example, if your product is a new type of women’s scarf, gear your search toward women’s clothing stores. Call business owners you already have a relationship with first. Many times you’ll have more success working with someone who already knows you. If you are cold-calling businesses, make an appointment and arrive on time. You can also email, but often the best first impression is the one you make in person. Bring samples of your products and a sell sheet to show you have merchandise that is ready to promote. Your sell sheet should include your product description, display or product photographs, pricing information, and your website and contact information.

Prove a Pattern of Success

Because shelf space is usually limited, retailers want proof your product will sell and not sit gathering dust. You want to start by explaining your business plan and how you intend to drive customers to your products. Then, show where you’ve had recent success selling your products. Provide a link to an online store, and give detailed lists of online profits or provide letters of recommendations of small businesses that currently sell your products. Demonstrate there are people who have an interest in your products.

Team Up With a Distributor

Big box retailers often feel better when dealing with a wholesaler distributor rather than an individual. To find a wholesaler, consider going to trade shows and asking other merchandisers to get recommendations on distributors in your industry. If you plan on going large scale, seek out a wholesaler. Wholesalers typically have established working relationships with many different retailers, so you can get your merchandise out to a greater number of people. Your paycheck will come from one source, and quite often, you will have money in the bank much faster than if you did it all alone. The most important thing to remember is to not give up. Try attending seminars and learn new technologies to help get your products noticed. Be patient and understand it takes time for consumers to gain awareness of what you have to offer.

References & Resources

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