Every business that has ever developed a product dreams of getting on shelf at a Walmart or Home Depot. Big box retailers offer a lot of benefits including massive distribution and access to millions of consumers. But with the tough economic conditions we’ve experience over the last few years it’s only become increasingly difficult to win shelf space.
In a recent article on inc.com the co-founder of Bear Naked, Brendan Synnott offered a little insight into how he was able to break into retail. It was a great article but I thought I’d expand a little on his thoughts and add a few of our own here at IMC.
Start Small, And Start Local Everyone wants to get into Walmart but major retailers want to see that your product has a successful track record. There are few a few different ways to show that your product has an audience. Targeted online sales are a great way to prove there is a market for your product. Another is to take it into small stores, even a local mom and pop that you shop at yourself.
Make a Connection Visit the stores you want your products sold. You should be familiar with their layout and know what differentiates your product from their existing lineup. Reach out to buyers and look for their feedback. A few adjustments could be the difference between mass distribution and a garage full of junk.
Make the Buyer Call You An increasingly popular strategy to getting products on shelf is to get consumers talking about them. Send your product to bloggers and social influencers and ask for their feedback to start building relationships. More often than not, they’ll right about it and start spreading the word for you. This is a great content marketing strategy we use here at IMC with our Vibrant Influencer Network.
Embrace the No Established company or not you will be told no. A lot. Embrace it. Every no you receive is an opportunity to gain feedback and improve your product. There’s always a way to get in. The trick is finding it.
Retail development isn’t just about getting into Walmart. Retail development is about building relationships. Whether it’s with a buyer, broker, blogger, or consumer every relationship you build has the potential of getting you one step closer to being on shelf.