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:
1. HOW DO I KNOW YOUR PRODUCT WILL SELL?
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
2. WILL YOUR PRODUCT INCREASE PROFITS FOR THE DEPARTMENT?
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.
3. HOW DO I KNOW YOU CAN DELIVER ON TIME?
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.
4. HOW GOOD IS YOUR PRODUCT QUALITY?
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.