Archive for the ‘Selling Major Retailers’ Category

Do You Need The Lowest Price To Sell A Major Retailer?

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

You have probably heard you need the lowest price to sell your product to a major retailer.

Major retailers don’t like to take risks and they want to buy a product that is already a proven seller. If you can prove your product sells well for other retailers, that removes much of this risk.

Then, as long as they believe they will make more profit from your product than whatever it replaces, and if you can convince them that you will be a reliable supplier, they’ll give you a test.

For all of my product lines, I always started with Target because I found them to be more receptive to new ideas. Once I had good sell-through numbers from Target, getting into Wal-Mart was a lot easier.


Here’s how I was able to have a 95% success rate with my new products…

I found a product category that was already selling well and then improved on it to make it sell better! This is a lot less risky than a completely new invention no one has ever seen before.

When I introduced my new school supply line, I was selling a category already known to sell well and I was the first company to make school supplies with a holographic “look”.

This allowed me to sell a 2 pocket folder to retail at $1.99 when my competition was retailing at $0.69! Because these products sold so well, I got a “Best New Vendor” award from Target’s stationery & school supply department.

Don’t let anybody tell you it’s necessary to have the lowest price.

It isn’t.

If you have a higher priced product that can sell the same unit volume as the lower priced products, the retailer will make much more money with your product and you can get away from concerns about price. Be prepared to prove it though. . .

How To Be Taken Seriously By A Retail Buyer

Friday, November 12th, 2010

So, you’ve got your product and packaging done and now you are ready to make your first presentation to a retail buyer.

How do you make sure they take you seriously? Or how do you even get an appointment?

If you prepare to make a presentation to a major retailer, then you will be ready to talk with any retail buyer. Here are a few of the questions you need to be prepared to answer:

1. How does your product compare to your competition and why should I buy your product? Why should the consumer buy it?

2. What will your product do for my customers that the other products I stock won’t? What will it do for me that your competitor’s products don’t.

3. What proof do you have that your product will sell better in terms of profit per square foot per month than whatever it replaces?

4. How does your product fill a gap in my merchandising mix that will result in more total profit for my category than I make now? What proof do you have?

5. What proof do you have of your ability to deliver on time every time.

6. Does your packaging effectively “sell” your product while also meeting all necessary merchandising, protection and promotional requirements?

7. Do you have case packs in small enough units to allow me to turn my inventory quickly? Do you have all your UPC codes, EDI and RFID capabilities set up and operating?

This is not everything you need to know, but be prepared to discuss these issues and you’ll be off to a good start.

Just Because Your Product Outsells The Competition, That Doesn’t Mean You Get The Reorder

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

That sounds crazy! I’ve jumped through all the hoops to get my product onto a major retailer’s shelves and then, once there, my product sold better than my competition, why wouldn’t I get reorders?

Welcome to the real world….

Let’s say you’ve survived the gauntlet and actually got a vendor number from a top 3 retailer. They bought your product, stocked it on their shelves, and your product sold out faster and for more profit that your competitors. . .

Why wouldn’t the retailer pick you to buy from again?

Here are some real examples that happened to me – names not disclosed to avoid getting sued.

Example # 1:

I got my school supply product line into one of the largest retailers in the world. At the end of the school supply season, my product was all gone and my competitor’s product was still there. . .

So they should order from me the next season, right?

Not necessarily.

The retailer in question, whose name starts with a letter towards the end of the alphabet, asked my billion dollar competitor to take all the unsold product back for a credit. We’re talking about multi-millions of dollars.

The competitor told the major retailer, OK, as long as you kick out that upstart small company whose product sold better than ours and don’t buy from them again.

Big retailer does the math and says “OK”.

This entire exchange probably violates any number of laws, which is why we won’t name names, but the bottom line was my product, the best seller, was out.

Example # 2:

I took my everyday sticker product line to the same major retailer and suggested they buy my product instead of another multi-billion dollar competitor’s line.

For a reason, my product sold for $1.00 per package instead of the $2.00 per package my competitor’s product sold for.

I got in all their stores – Yea!

But I had kicked the elephant (another multi-billion dollar competitor) in the shins. It took the elephant a while, but once they noticed what I did they squashed me like a bug.

How did they do it. Differently than the last example, but the same result.

They offered the big retailer weekly in store service at every one of their many thousand stores (their service people were there anyway every week servicing some of their many other product lines).

Buyer calls and asks if we can provide weekly service in many thousand stores every week for free.

Oops. We’re gone.

Example # 3:

Example from a single gift shop – not a chain, but a single store.

The owner bought our kids sticker display with hundreds of packages on it. It sold out right away.

When our rep called on the store owner for a reorder, the owner doesn’t reorder because he says: “that product line was great! It sold out right away, what’s new?”

He figured that most things he buys are still there and don’t sell out so he got lucky, what’s next?

You would think that a product line that sells out would be reordered so they can do it again, but not everyone understands that. . .

The Bottom Line:

The purpose of this post is not in any way to discourage you, but to point out that as a small business, you can still make millions, but just plan on being quick and responsive and when your competitors figure out what you did to them, let them copy last year’s product…..

Even though these are all true stories, remember, I did sell $45 Million worth of product, so I was good with that.

Tips For Finding The Best Reps

Friday, October 1st, 2010

If you want to sell your product to major retailers, you may need to find a good rep.

Since every rep will tell you they can sell anything to anyone – they are sales people after all – how do you know who to believe?

In short, don’t believe any of them!

Here’s how to figure out who to use yourself.

The best way is to have the buyer at a major chain tell you who they recommend but most buyers will not tell you that due to company policy. Your next best is to find out who is selling to them now.

So, how do you do that?

Go into their stores and look in the department the category buyer you are targeting has the responsibility for.

Now, you want to find products already in their stores that are in the same department but not directly competitive with you.

Contact those companies as though you were a retailer and request their catalog and local rep info. The manufacturers will gladly send you this info as they want to make a sale.

Then, approach the rep firm to represent your line!

How To Get A Target Buyer To Help You Develop New Products

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

I got the senior category buyer at Target to help me develop a new product line for them.

So, how did I do it?

I had a best selling product the previous year so had developed credibility and trust with the buyer as a vendor who made products people wanted and who could deliver on time.

Then, he helped me with the artwork for my following year product line, suggested themes, colors and designs. I sent him designs our artists came up with for his comments.

Target spends more than $100,000 each year on trend and color research so they know what their customers will buy.

So, how likely do you think he was to buy my new line – especially since his input created it?

The result was another best-seller and an award from Target!

The lesson here is that if you create products that make money for retailers, your reception for future products will be completely different.

How To Prepare To Meet A Major Retail Buyer

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Most people who want to sell their product to a retail chain think that if it’s a unique new product, the retailer should give them a chance. If you want to make the sale, you need to understand how the buyer will evaluate you and your product.

Buyers have a responsibility to maximize the profit for their department throughout the chain. For them to want to make a change by adding your product to replace something else they need a good reason.

(There are no empty shelves just waiting for you!)

Here are four of the most important questions you will need to be prepared to answer:


New products are risky. From the point of view of a buyer, an unproven, new, unique product is a big risk. Will it sell better than whatever it replaces? Will it make more profit per square foot of space than what it replaces?

DO THIS: Have proof it will sell better than your competition by getting the results from selling other stores first


If your product will just replace the sales from something else, why should the buyer make a change? He needs to see an overall increase in profit for his department to make it worth the risk.

DO THIS: Study the merchandise mix in his stores and be prepared to discuss how your product is filling an unfilled niche in his merchandise mix. That will mean increased overall profit and better serving the customer.


There’s nothing worse than empty shelves due to a late delivery. The buyer has reliable vendors now, how does he know you will be reliable?

DO THIS: Be prepared to discuss your financial capabilities and your processes for making sure shipments are on time every time. If you can’t show proof you can be a reliable supplier you will not make the sale.


The only thing worse than empty shelves are products that get returned due to defects, poor packaging, or other consumer problems. The problem is not only the financial impact of your product returns, but the effect on the retailer’s customer. If the retailer loses a customer due to your defective product, they lose all the revenue from everything else that customer would buy, not just from your product.

DO THIS: Make sure you have done proper testing of both the product and it’s packaging before approaching any stores. Wal-Mart and other retailers may send your product out for testing by independent labs where it will be evaluated vs your competitors. Be familiar with all the tests than may be done and make sure you can pass them before submitting your product.