Are You “Retail Ready”?

The fact is most inventors who have developed a product are not properly prepared to approach major retail chains and catalogs – even though they feel they are. Retail buyers have an important job to do. They must make money for their company or risk losing their jobs. It’s really that simple. Many retailers shy away from inventors due to their inexperience and lack of business acumen. Today, more than ever, retailers are reducing the number of new vendors they work with and are choosing those that not only have a great product but are capable of being a reliable partner they can work with long term.

When you approach them, you must be sure you have the following key items in proper order:

  • Product packaging must not only be attractive but technically correct or you risk poor sales and the retailer pulling your product from the shelves
  • Product pricing must be carefully calculated to meet the retailer’s profit margin requirements or they can’t buy from you
  • Market strategies must be in place as buyers expect you to drive traffic to their stores and not your own website
  • Financial backing is essential since retailers aren’t going to buy from a poorly capitalized inventor
  • Factories making your product must be credible and capable of producing large volume orders and do it according to U.S. safety standards
  • Customer service procedures such as handling defective merchandise, customer complaints, and warranty rules must be established

These are just some of the numerous key areas that you must be prepared for. Retail buyers are notoriously tough to get a hold of, so you cannot afford to sacrifice such a golden opportunity by not being prepared when you finally reach them.

What do you know about product liability insurance, UPC coding, retail vendor forms and co-op advertising programs? Are you familiar with how retailers operate and the differences between the dozens of channels of retailers that might be appropriate for your product? Are you really ready from a business standpoint to call on retail buyers and “do the deal” and make money doing it?

As the old saying goes, “retail is detail” and when preparing to sell to retailers you must learn all you can to make the most of your call or meeting with a buyer who can say “Yes” to purchasing your products. There are seemingly endless details to understand and it is often confusing and overwhelming. It was when I started. With nearly 20 years of working with retail buyers and more than 50 million dollars in product sales to the largest and most well known retailers in the world, I know exactly how retail buyers operate, what they want, and how to speak their language.

I will help you demystify the process and help you prepare your product for retail selling. I will answer your questions and teach you in weeks what it took me years to learn.

  1. I send you a list of questions and request certain items from you so that I can clearly understand what you have accomplished so far
  2. I review your answers. You send me your product in its package, your sales and marketing plans, your pricing schedules, your website, and the other “checklist” items I request
  3. I give you a grade and that grade will either be a Green Light (meaning you are retail ready), a Yellow Light (meaning you have some work to do), or a Red Light (meaning you have a lot of work to do!)
  4. I provide suggestions for needed changes and basic advice and then you make those changes!
  5. I can further assist you in making some of the needed changes if you cannot (additional costs apply)or I may recommend other professionals who I know and trust to make them for you

The goal is for you to truly be ready to approach retailers large and small. When you call on a retail buyer and are not prepared, you may not get a second chance to present your product to them. I have many friends who are buyers for major retail chains and catalog companies and they will tell you that they simply don’t have time to review the dozens of products they see each month. If you make a great first impression and show a retail buyer you are ready to do business, your odds are getting your product placed in their stores goes up tremendously!

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