There is no denying the power of the Internet in its ability to make sales. The recent explosion of online based startups provides a fantastic case study for the power of the Internet to make entrepreneurs, and in some case, millionaires. However, for all its glamour, the majority of sales still happen in classic brick and mortar storefronts. In fact, e-commerce sales in the US for the first quarter of 2015 accounted for a scant 7% of total sales according to the US Census Bureau Department of Commerce. The cold hard reality is, as far as ecommerce has come, getting the best exposure and sales for your product still means getting it on a shelf at some point.
This post will aim to provide advice in that regard. After all, there may be thousands of competitors in your space, and without proper optimization consumers will never see your product. However, on a store shelf, every person who walks by will know what you offer. Here are a few tips for getting your product onto store shelves:
Start With Small Retailers and Local Distribution
While big names like Wal-Mart might be attractive, remember that everybody will be targeting them, and only a very small percentage of them will ever get close to having their product distributed on store shelves. However, there are thousands of smaller chains and outlets where you can put your product up, and doing well in these smaller shops can add up to just as many sales as getting into one major chain.
Just focus on one store at a time, and pitch to local chains that do well but likely don’t have the same barriers to entry that others would have.
If you cannot seem to get your foot in the door even after reading this guide entirely with even local retailers, you can never go wrong with e-commerce. While it does not represent as many sales as you might want, it will still provide hard numbers and data you can present to retailers and prove that your product sells.
Build Relationships with Managers
Networking is one of the most valuable skills you can learn in business. By building up a relationship with local store managers, you can get your foot in the door. You still need a product that will be worth the time, money, and floor space, but getting that relationship established will go a long way. Get friendly, start talking business, show that you know what you are doing and respect their ability to do what they do. Once this relationship is established, don’t be surprised to get a call asking you to show them what you have to offer.
Focus on the Data
Once you get the opportunity to make your pitch, focus on your data. Most retailers do not care about your story (and if you networked, they probably know it), they want to know: will it sell? Will it turn a profit? Is it worth my time to include in my inventory? When making your pitch, get directly to the point and give them the hard figures. The hard data that will help make your case include:
Making your pitch will ultimately require you to know your product inside and out, and how it will turn a profit for the retailer. If you have gotten your product into other stores, showing how well it performed will go a long way towards solidifying your place on the shelf.
UPC Product Codes
UPC codes are a necessity for any product you sell. This system facilitates inventory tracking for the retailer and is a requirement for having your product sold with any retailer. It is what allows barcode scanners to function and without this system, commerce would not be nearly as efficient as it is today. As such, make sure you have your UPC product codes lined up and affiliated with your product. Remember you will need a unique code for every color and version of your product that you put out on the market, but not every iteration of the same product. Keep this distinction in mind: to use the same UPC code on an item, it has to be the same in every way, not merely “fundamentally similar.”
About 1% of retailers will also require GS1 certification before they will accept your products, so do your homework before you buy.
We hope this guide will help guide you towards success in your endeavors. Following these tips you are sure to get your product on store shelves, and from there watch the profits roll in!