Pitching your products to a major retailer

Our Shave soap packaging
Our Shave soap packaging

As some of our followers may remember, in late January we were fortunate to have the opportunity to pitch our shave soap to a major retailer that is opening a new store in the area.  We did our homework on how to properly present our products and establish a professional relationship with them.  Here are a few tips I would recommend if you are giving thought to approaching a major retailer:

1.  Read everything you can about that retailer – understand their methods, policies, limitations.  When you search for it you will find a treasure trove of information on their company website.  Become familiar with the mindset of that organization – do they match your goals, ideals, purposes?  Ask yourself how your products fit into this company?

2.  Read everything you can about how other people have encountered the retailer.  We found a good number of articles, most very encouraging, insightful, and helpful for planning our appointment.

3.  Look for opportunities to present your products.  Often as a major retailer begins to plan opening another store in the area they will hold open invitation to apply.  Keep an eye on local newspaper, news, and art friends.  I am so thankful to a dear friend that told me about the opportunity we took action on.

4. Develop a quick “executive summary” pitch – something short that gives your company name, address, contact information; and a quick overview of the products you plan to present.  This should be not more than 1-2 letter size pages, and quickly attachable in an email.

5.  Visit the store, scan the shelves, and think about how your products would fit into their display.  Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Are my products similar or different than those already on the shelves, racks, displays in the shop?
  • Are my products unique, different, a niche that they do not currently cover?
  • Where would I present the products – would i ask for shelf space?  table space?  end cap?  (Often this is not the decision of the vendor, but of the retailer – but it would be good to think through this scenario)
  • How do my prices fare against those of products on the shelf?  Am i higher? lower? competitive?
  • How does my packaging compare to those products on the shelf?

6. If you are fortunate enough to obtain an appointment do your homework, and prepare a presentation that walks the company through an introduction of you, your products, and your business philosophy.  One of the key things is to develop line sheets.  Line sheets are simply an overview of the product, a photo of it, ingredients list, packaging description, wholesale price, retail price, and capacity /turn around.  Large retailers are used to big business giving them supply capacity, and turn around on order.

7. On the day of the appointment – Bring your sample products, the presentation book you created, and put on a great attitude.  We noticed people waiting to be seen with various attitudes, and issues.  The buyers notices this too… its always best to put on your A game, and present the best possible front.  Be a good listener, opened to taking copious notes, willing to adapt and change.  In our meeting we learned so much, and we had such great feedback.

So the take away is several points

  • Look for opportunities, but be educated about those opportunities.
  • Learn all you can and prepare well for the encounter.
  • Enter into this only when you believe you have the capacity to supply the volume they might ask
  • Be reasonable of your expectations, stay positive.