Getting Into Retail: From Packaging to Pitch

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As an entrepreneur, nothing excites quite like the word ‘sales.’ And getting your product into a retail store is a great way to start getting them. But how do you approach retailers and what do you say to them when you do?

Big box stores vs. mom & pop shops

First, it’s important to consider what kind of shop you want to have your products sold in. Does your product lend itself to being in a small mom and pop shop or would it be more at home among hundreds of other products on the sprawling shelves of a big box store?

Smaller shops will generally know their customers and what they like better than the big-box-we-carry-everything-under-the-sun-type stores. That means when a smaller shop carries a product, it’s because they like it, they know their customers will like it, and it works. They’re also often more niche-focused with their product selection, so a consumer shopping their knows they’re getting exactly what they need.

On the other hand, a big-box store offers the potential for a much larger volume of sales than a smaller shop. It also exposes your product and brand to more consumers simply by the large volume of traffic they experience on a daily basis. Big-box stores tend to carry an impressive variety of retail items, so while a consumer might not shop there looking for your product in particular, you may receive sales from consumers making impulse purchases if your product is marketing well within the store.

Product packaging

If you are focusing on getting your product into retail locations, then the product’s packaging should be driven based on the needs of the retailer. For example, if you’re only selling at large retailers, you’ll be vying for attention against competitors located on the same shelf. Or your product may be stocked on a very high, or very low shelf. Does your product packaging stand out from competitors? Can it be read from a top or bottom shelf? Is it easy to read, and convey exactly what the product is, without need for excessive examination? Will your product sit upright on a shelf, or does it need it’s own point of sale display? Does the retailer have special requirements your product’s packaging has to meet? Does your product fall under the purview of the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act or FDA requirements?

If you’re selling through smaller retailers, you may want to tone down your product’s packaging to emphasize the artisanal, high-quality feel. Shelf space is often limited in these situations, so you may need to consider reducing the size of your packaging. Will the retailer require a special bar code or labeling system to meet their own checkout system?

The pitch

Getting your product on any retail shelf requires a good pitch. When pitching retailers, it’s important to show them what your products will do for them. How will your product help improve their bottom line? What is your expected rate of sales? Do you have documentation that supports these estimates? What does your historical sales data look like? You’ll need to show them that you understand their business and consumers just as well as you know your own product. If they see that you’ve considered this from their perspective, their going to be more apt to give your product a closer look. A press-kit can help you more easily explain your product, brand and business, by putting everything in one convenient place. With sections for your company’s history, press releases you’ve put out, and media coverage your product has received, a press kit puts everything a buyer needs in an easy-to-read package.

What’s the plan?

You’ve perfected your packaging and sales pitch, and now it’s time watch the orders come pouring in, right? Not so fast, you’re job isn’t over just because your product has snagged some shelf space. Your retail partners are going to expect to review your marketing plan in detail, which will show them how you plan on moving your product from their shelves. Retailers aren’t in the business of promoting your products for you, so a fully fleshed out marketing plan is essential to making your retail relationship a success. Your marketing plan should show what your company currently looks like (including a SWOT analysis), an understanding of your target demographic, research that you’ve done into pricing and how you reached your price point, the marketing tactics and strategies you’ll use to create demand, your marketing budget, and more. A solid, well-researched plan will go a long way with buyers in the retail marketplace.

If you’re thinking about bringing your product to retail, we highly recommend that you reach out to us first. We can work with you on everything from your market strategy, to product packaging, and even the pitch itself. For more information, contact us!

Photo courtesy of Flickr user James Petts.