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So, you have an incredible product and you’re ready to bust it through the doors of your favourite retailer. I don’t blame you. There’s nothing more exciting than having something you’ve spilled your heart into and you want to share it with the world. We want to help you land your dream retailer and prepare you for the most successful pitch possible.


I purposely steered clear of having the title of this article be something along the lines of ‘the secret to pitching your dream retailer’ because there is no secret. Pitching ain’t easy. Every retailer has their own set of standards and qualifications for bringing on a new vendor or new product line. There are so many things that come into play during the product selection process so we wanted to whittle some of them down for you and give you some tips for how to land your dream retailer.


So, without further adieu, here are some tangible tips for how to perfect your pitch to the retailer you’ve been dying to show your line or product to.


Know who consumes your product and determine if it matches with your retailer


If you create products for senior citizens and you’re targeting FootLocker, chances are you are less likely to sell. Think clearly about your target market for your product and whether or not it fits perfectly with the retailer you’re going after. Browse the retail location for similar or related products.


Although this seems like common sense, you would be surprised how many vendors pitch retailers where their product isn’t a fit in the slightest. You want to be mindful of everyone’s time, knowing that you may want to approach that retailer in the future if your product line expands.



[tweet_this] In order to land your dream retailer, be sure to target your pitch to align with the retailer’s needs.[/tweet_this]


Prepare for the tough questions


Go into this knowing that it isn’t going to be a walk in the park. Most retail buyers have their own agenda and are thinking ‘what’s in it for me and how does it fit into my overall category strategy‘.  Prepare yourself to answer some tough questions. Just like you would prepare for an interview, do the same level of preparation for your potential retailer. Here are a few of the many questions you could be asked to elaborate on:


  • What is your distribution strategy?
  • Tell me a bit about your pricing strategy, what’s your regular price?
  • What is the depth of promotion for your product? Should you be promoted once a month? Once a quarter? And what’s the physical dollar amount you should be discounted?
  • Be prepared to talk about your share of market – what does your volume look like?


Ask yourself a few key questions as well. Will your production be able to handle the volume that the retailer may ask for? Are you wanting to sell directly to the retailer or look for a distributor to sell on your behalf?


Cleary define what sets you apart from your competitors


Retailers can worry about your competitors swooping in and stealing market share. It’s important to differentiate yourself and sell them on what makes your product and brand unique. Know your product inside and out, and be able to speak to all of its selling points and features in a very detailed manner.


Don’t underestimate the importance of your packaging


Every marketer loves the way their product is packaged and put a ton of thought into package design. As your building out your packaging, aim to strike a balance between what a consumer wants to know and what a retailer needs. Think about the size of packaging – most planograms nowadays are full! That means real estate on shelf is valuable. For a retailer efficiency on shelf is just as important as profit or sales. Don’t let logistics stop you from getting on shelf.


Products on Retail Shelf


Here are some common issues that brands run into while trying to get listed:


  • is your product store friendly? It has to be easy to stock for store staff. If you built something that doesn’t stand up by itself, did you build a tray or a shelf ready inner case? If you built the product to be pegged, is it going into a section that has pegs? I have a colleague who was a buyer at Target who worked with a thermometer vendor to try and get his thermometers into his sections. The products were great, but the packaging was thin and not built to stand up on shelf. To build a tray after he finalized packaging would take too much margin out of his product to be viable.
  • does it lie horizontal versus vertical? Packaging is a passionate area for marketers, but be sure that you consider that a retailer will always look for more shelf space. Does your packaging look good vertical and horizontal? Will it fit on a shelf vertically?


Speak to your brand story, history and concept


People inherently connect to stories that pull on their heart strings. It’s important to share these stories with your retailer and let them know where you came from and how you ended up in front of them.


I recently spoke with the team at Probar, and I had no idea the company was started by a food coach who started making nutrition bars in his kitchen to give to his clients. He wanted to make a bar where you could actually recognize the ingredients. Fast forward a few years, after sending his one sales rep across the country in a van (with his family I might add), Probar is now in Whole Foods across the U.S.


If it’s applicable, try taking advantage of the fact that you are locally sourced or produced and leverage that with your local retailer. Research to see if your retailer has any special programs for local vendors.


If everything goes well, be sure to have all the information your retailer would need to know at your fingertips. You can even make it easy on yourself by filling our that retailer’s new product listing form in a snap.


Do you have any other awesome tips for how to perfect your retail pitch? How did you land your first major retailer? Let us know in the comments below!


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