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How to Get Your Products on Mass Retailers' Shelves

by Vanessa Ting  |  
March 23, 2012

In this article, you'll learn...

  • Four tips for getting mass retailers to sell your product
  • The importance of having a solid business case for your product

You have a good product and great branding, but how do you get the buyers of large retailers to notice your brand?

Common tips you might hear include the following: Hire a sales representative; attend tradeshows; and, encourage friends and family to request your product at the store. Those are all effective tips, but here are four more ways to be resourceful when trying to get your product on store shelves.

1. Build a business case for how your product will drive sales for the retailer

A business case is a tightly woven story that demonstrates the selling potential of your product by showing the product's sales history. A business case needs to answer the questions, what is your product's selling history with other retailers? and have sales been growing steadily over time?

Sales is the most important metric to get retailers' attention. A common way that metric is presented is in units per store per week (i.e., how many units of your product has sold in one store on an average week). Serving up your sales history in that format will enable buyers to more easily compare sales numbers across different retailers and channels.

Also, your business case needs to fit into a retail strategy. Is your product a trip driver or a margin driver? Is it going to expand customers' basket size, or is it going to cannibalize products already on the shelf? Have you clearly answered the question, what is in it for the retailer?

Developing a business case with sales data, and aligning it with the retailer's goals and objectives is key to getting the attention of a buyer. Without that, a Target or Wal-Mart buyer, for example, will not even give you the time of day.

2. Scale your business slowly

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Vanessa Ting is founder of Retail Path, which guides product companies through the process of developing and expanding retail distribution. She has worked as a buyer at Target Corporation, and she regularly contributes to Both Sides of the Retail Table.

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