Developing a new retail product can often be an exciting and exhilarating process. Whatever the product, many small business owners will be able to relate to the excitement and buzz that often characterises the early stages of product development. What most will also tell you, though, is that the real work has only just begun.
In truth, completing the development phase of a new product can sometimes be the easiest part of the whole process. For many, the real effort is spent on trying to convince retailers to take the plunge and agree to stock your product on their shelves. Many great inventions have never seen the light of day simply because their developers couldn’t clear this final hurdle.
Having been through this process myself a number of times, I have come to rely on the following 4 essential steps which can spell the difference between receiving a “yes” or a “no” from your prospective retailer.
1. Invest in good product packaging
We all know that you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. However, all too often this is exactly what customers end up doing. Retailers are aware of this fact and, as such, place a high value on product packaging when deciding whether to stock an item.
While you may be trying to keep costs to a minimum in the early stages of your business venture, my advice would be to not skimp on the packaging. Instead, carefully consider your target market and then match your design and choice of packaging materials to the customers’ needs and expectations.
Retailers will only stock items which they believe will sell. As such, packaging that stands out from the crowd, looks professional, already has a barcode, and which presents the product in a favourable light is more likely to be given shelf space.
2. Build an online presence
As the social media revolution takes hold across the world, retailers are starting to rely more and more on the internet as a means of determining a product’s appeal and viability. When approaching a retailer with a new product, it can be extremely helpful to have already developed an online presence, even if it is a small one at this stage.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and online review sites can all go a long way towards convincing potential buyers that there is a market for your product and that you mean business. In the early stages, you will likely have to rely on the goodwill of family and friends, but this will change as your product develops and your customer base grows.
3. Have your admin sorted out beforehand
There are a myriad of small, seemingly innocuous administrative items which need to be addressed before a product can be stocked with a retailer. Having all your ducks in a row in this respect will immediately put you ahead of many of your competitors and help differentiate you from the “mom-and-pop” style businesses. Here are some important items in consider doing beforehand:
- Formally register your business.
- Buy barcodes for your products – remember that each variation of your products will require their own individual barcodes.
- Get formal approval of your product name.
- Get certified ingredients lists and nutritional information.
- Clarify your pricing structures.
4. Develop a great pitch – and then practise, practise, practise.
When all is said and done, much of your eventual success is going to come down to the dreaded pitch. Retailers who are interested in your product will often invite you over to demonstrate how it works, tastes, or operates. This is the best chance you will ever have of convincing them to take you on.
While many people may go into these meetings in the vain hope that the product will do all the talking, sadly this is all too often not the case. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Dragon’s Den, you’ll know exactly what I mean. If public speaking is just not your thing, consider bringing a friend or colleague along who can speak on your behalf.
Regarding the pitch itself, it is important to remember that a good pitch is not something which is made up on the spot. Instead, each word ought to be carefully considered and planned out well in advance in order to deliver the right message with maximum effect. Finally, be sure to practise, practise, and practise some more.
Assuming that your product is viable to begin with, carrying out these 4 steps should give you a good head start on your competitors. The rest is up to timing and no small amount of good fortune. Wishing you all the best for your business endeavours!
Featured photo credit: PDPhotos via pixabay.com