The StartupNation Blog Trends, tips and real-life anecdotes from industry experts

Ready for Retail?

I wanted to share with you today some insider information and useful tips about getting your products into “mass” or “big box” retail.  My hope is that this info will make you well informed with the process when you go looking for the connections into that industry. Knowledge is power!

 The myth:

“If only I can get into retail and sell MILLIONS of products, I will have it made!”

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Well….maybe!

I get requests all day about taking a product to retail from curious minds. When I go over the process with new product owners, their response is usually “I had no idea what it takes to do this!” Well, no you will have some idea of what it takes….

#1 TIP

Patients & Reality- Rome was NOT built in a day! Your product will not get into retail in a day either. It is a long process, most of the time, and you need to be patient. I have seen great deals destroyed by inpatient entrepreneurs. Depending on when you approach a retail chain, will heavily depend on the product placement into their plan-o-gram. I am dealing with a product currently that is AWESOME! However, it was presented to us in June, and it is a summer item. End of season! So, it will be placed in “summer “09”. Take these things into consideration and be reasonable in your expectations.

TIP #2

Seek out a great rep that has many connections in the industry- in my opinion it is all about who you know, and who they can connect you with! Visit my web page at www.kimbabjak.com to learn more about how I can assist you in getting your products in retail, or how I can help you find a rep.

Listen to your agent, please!

I find it very counterproductive when I have a client who is looking to me for advice, however, does not really want or takes it. The best thing you can do is listen to advice and recommendations from and industry expert, analyze it, then hopefully follow it. The biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is to assume they know an industry that they really don’t. Mostly from EGO! It is OK not know everything.  Be a good entrepreneur and hire the people who do! Always listen to good advice, and use it.

Warren Buffet said recently that the reason he is so successful is because he listens to smart people…..

TIP #3

Be prepared to give as many samples to those reps, and their reps, and their buyers and so on….I have seen many, many entrepreneurs baulk at the idea of giving samples. Let me be the first to say that if you do not have enough samples, or money to produce samples, you have no business wanting to get into mass retail in the first place. It is essential to provide as many samples as a retail rep needs to secure interest in your line. Every first Tuesday of every month Walgreen’s has a corporate buy meeting that I attend, and the roundtable buyers want me to provide them all (25), a sample of each product being presented. They then take that back to their districts and make a decision if they want to carry that line. If no sample, NO consideration.

If you have a sample ready….is it really ready….let’ us see.  Do you have the following?

  • UPC bar code
  • Packaged properly
  • Right price
  • Distribution available-immediately!
  • Marketing material
  • Sell sheets
  • Price sheets
  • Samples

Not having these items could KILL you chances of product placement. Some retail buyers will wait until you have all of them, if they really like and believe in the product. Make it easy on yourself, have them ready to go.

TIP #4

Make sure you have the pricing set to the appropriate retailer. Some retail chains like Costco, work on much smaller margins, like 10-15%. This is because they make it up in bulk volume. Walgreen’s will work on wholesale cost x 1.5, while QVC wants 50 points or 100% markup. So, make sure you know the margins of the prospective retailers when looking to sell in their stores. You ask, but how do I know this insider info? Well, by finding a good rep, like me, or talking to the floor managers of the appropriate categories’ or seeking info at that industry’s trade association or trade show.

Always listen to good advice, and use it!

Wishing you much success.

Always DREAM BIG!

Kim B.

About the Author: Kim Babjak

Kim Babjak was born to be an entrepreneur. From her childhood days of developing products, Kim has loved all aspects of business. However, the area that brings her the most joy is helping others achieve success. Armed with her dream [...]

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