I have a start-up business with three other partners. We have developedsome ideas for consumer products. After five years of partnering, patenting, prototyping and manufacturing, we are trying to introduce the first product to large retailers. We have not had any success to date. What do you suggest?
We strongly urge any new product innovator to seek competent and professional help in determining market direction and strategy. Realize your limitations, and further realize that yours may be the best new product in it’s field, but your chances for success are greatly diminished if you try to strike out on your own. Getting new products into distribution is a demanding job even for the largest manufacturers in the field.
No large retail chain wants to add a vendor for one small item; they are always trying to reduce the number of vendors. They will also need to be sure you have production, shipping, and financial capability. In addition, they will need some kind of an introductory promotional and/or advertising program to at least try to create some pull for the products, broadly or on-shelf.
Most large retailers have a computerized inventory control system built over decades by finely-tuning their merchandise mix. To put it bluntly, they already know what will sell! Any new product, unless successfully tested elsewhere, is an assumed liability to the very formula that made them successful in the first place. For that reason alone, 85-90% of the new products that are shown to the merchandising division are rejected out of hand.Another consideration is the amount of money the buyer has for his department. In other words, how many dollars does he have left in his budget to spend on product, whether new or old? His job is very complex. To keep it as simple as he can, he will stick with what he knows will sell -- much to the chagrin of new product developers.
You should seek out the smaller regional and sub-regional retail chains. Even if they have only few retail units, you are gaining market share while creating a positive sales history. Then, utilizing this company's sales, approach the next one -- maybe a regional chain with more retail units. By the time your product is being sold in a dozen smaller chains, the total retail unit base may easily exceed the giant's.
Another choice you have is to sell your products as private label to a manufacturer who already has distribution of a broad line, or licensing them to such a manufacturer. In some cases this is a better alternative than trying to distribute on your own.
Try becoming a QVC vendor , the most popular selling service on TV. Visit their web-site www.QVC.com and learn if your products suit their criteria.
Of course do not forget the power of the Internet as part of your marketing strategy. Get professional help in creating a winning website utilizing the latest cyber selling tools.