Please note that this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be deemed to be or used as legal, employment, or health & safety advice. For guidance or advice specific to your business, consult with a qualified professional.
Getting your products into retail stores is a big step for any small business. Big name brands and high street outlets stocking your products widens your potential audience. There’s also the prestige that comes with being attached to a national or international market name.
But how do you get your products into stores? The world of retail can be daunting for small businesses or those that have previously only operated online. We’ve put together this guide to help you along the way - from deciding whether retail is right for you, to how to get your products onto shelves and into customers’ baskets.
Is expanding into stores right for me?
Retail isn’t every business’ end-goal – everyone is different. Before you fully commit to getting your products onto shelves, you should take a step back and decide whether retail is the best fit for your brand.
There are many benefits to expanding into retail, from gaining brand recognition to exploring business partnerships and growing profits. However, there are some elements to consider beforehand that will help you decide whether it’s the right move for you.
Will you be able to fulfil shipments? As a small business, you may only be used to producing and selling in small quantities on an ad-hoc basis. You should consider whether you have the means to meet higher demand.
What is your financial situation? Work out whether your budget can comfortably support this new venture. By expanding into shops there is the opportunity to increase profits, but this also comes with increased production costs and its own risks.
Is your manufacturing process clear? As you start to expand into multiple avenues, your production process needs to be solid. There will be more businesses relying on you now, rather than just your own.
Can you guarantee quality on a larger scale? It’s great that you have
the means to produce larger batches, but it’s important to ensure quality across larger orders.
How to get your products into retail stores
1. Understand your target
You know who you are and who your ‘usual’ customer demographics are, but how does this translate into the retail world? Take some time to do market research and identify where it would be best to put your products onto shelves.
Consider starting with smaller stores before moving on to bigger corporations. Pitching to smaller, independent businesses can be more fruitful, especially if you’re starting out in retail, and provides you with a good step onto the industry ladder.
Your product pitch should be tailored to the individual store you’re in discussions with. You want to show how your product fits their target market, brand and appeal. Don’t forget, this is a partnership so you need to prove that it will be mutually beneficial.
2. Have your pitch nailed down
Now you know who you’re going to be pitching to, it’s time to create the pitch itself. It’s important to understand your products inside and out and identify your key USPs (unique selling points). Your pitch should provide info on all the key stages of your product’s lifespan, not just its benefits as a purchasable item. Consider how your product is made and whether those practices fit the brand identity of your target stores.
However, don’t become too formal - creativity is a vital part of any successful pitch. While, of course, you need to be showcasing facts and data, your brand personality also needs to shine through to illustrate why you would be the perfect fit for their shelves.
Some creative ideas for your pitch could be:
- Sending out samples
- Making the pitch interactive and getting people involved
- Using creative visuals
3. Conduct research
An important part of crafting a solid brand identity is knowing where you sit within the current market. Conducting research is central to building this distinctive image. You need to know who your competitors are and how they are successful.
Do some digging into where products like yours sell, and what mark-up your competitors are seeing. This will help to determine whether pitching your products to a business will be worth your while – and theirs.
As well as digging into competitor products, you should also conduct research into your own. Reach out to customers with incentivised questionnaires to see what people like and dislike about your products and, more importantly, what you could do to improve.
This feedback is priceless and can be used to tweak your product before you pitch it. You can also use these positive comments as part of your presentation to push your product further.
4. Know your terms
While you want to go above and beyond to ensure the company you’re pitching to agrees to put your products on their shelves, you also need to set some limits. Go into the meeting knowing your terms and what you’re willing to offer in return for their partnership. Don’t be afraid to put your foot down.
Ensure they understand these terms and include them in your pitch. For example:
Set a minimum order amount so that the partnership is worth your while.
Decide on a product price to ensure you’re making sufficient profit.
Agree on payment terms – e.g., how much profit they’re set to make from your goods.
Discuss realistic turnaround times – if you’re a small business with limited production power, it’s important they understand this.
5. Don’t abandon other channels
Getting your goods into stores is exciting and could be a great next step for your brand. However, you mustn’t abandon other sales channels to follow this new venture.
If you’ve previously been selling online or via other channels, you will have likely created a solid customer base whom you have a reliable relationship with. Stepping into retail brings many benefits, but so do your existing ways of selling – otherwise, you wouldn’t be taking this big step in the first place.
While you may feel that you need to cut budgets back for other avenues, avoid cutting them out completely. Besides, if you find that retail isn’t for you, you’ll always need something to come back to.
So, you’re ready to get started on that pitch and push your products into stores. While this next step can be a little daunting, it’s incredibly exciting that your business has grown to such a level and is ready to take on this new challenge.
To support you in this step, it’s a good idea to have a strong point of sale (POS) system at the heart of your business processes. Square’s Retail POS can help you manage stock and payments all in one place, so you can keep track of when your goods need replenishing.
Now you’re selling via another business too, you need to keep track of your money coming in from different channels – which is where Square Invoices comes in. Send and receive money and manage your business on this accessible platform to ensure you never miss out on a single digit.