If you’re like most mom entrepreneurs, you’ve spent months, maybe even years, turning your idea into a real, shelf-ready creation. You’ve been through sketches, patterns, prototypes, samples, more prototypes, more samples, and finally, the finished product.
So just how do you take your concept to your consumer? Read on for what I call the “Retail Details.”
1.) Know the retailers. Know everything about them, their customers, their service, their standards, their pricing, their locations, their preferred communication method (email or phone), etc.
First, know which retailers would even carry a product like yours. The best way to do this is to Google some competitive products and see which stores come up in the search.
Then, compile a list of stores you'd like to approach and go directly to those websites. Learn everything you can about the store. What is their niche? Who is their customer, a bargain shopper or an upscale trendsetter? What’s their “specialty,” customer service or huge selection?
Once on the retail websites, it sometimes takes some digging around to find information about their retail guidelines -- look for things like "product submission" or "for retailers." If you can't find anything specific, email the retailer at their general “info” address and very briefly ask for retailer guidelines.
2.) Know your product. Be prepared to thoroughly discuss the features and benefits of your product, how it is better or different than similar products on the market and why a retailer would want to carry it.
It’s sometimes tough for an inventor to be objective about her creation -- of course you think it’s the best idea since the iPod. But an unbiased look at your product is a must before approaching any store. Play Devil’s advocate with your product so you’re very comfortable with any possible question or opposition that may come up while pitching it to a retailer.
Google your competition (if there is any) and learn about the products. Read reviews of competitive products -- what are customers saying? Do they love the product? Is there room for improvement? Maybe the one thing the competitive product lacks is the one thing your product has.
Figure out what single thing differentiates your product from the rest and then capitalize on that -- it might be price, it might be benefits, it might be selection, it might be durability, etc.
3.) Know your "retail details." Things like minimums, wholesale price, suggested retail price, shipping costs, packaging specs, payment terms, returns to vendor, etc.
This is pretty standard in the retail world. Generally, your wholesale price will be double what your cost is and your retail would be double what your wholesale is. (Example: If your cost is $5 each, your wholesale would be $10 and your retail would be $20.)
Payment terms are typically 30 days by check. Offer retailers a discount if they pay by credit card -- this saves time by preventing your accounting department (probably YOU!) from having to hunt down retailers if they’re past due. You may also like to create a wholesale shopping cart on your website where retailers can place their own orders using their credit card or a purchase order number. At the very least, provide a downloadable order form that retailers can print and fax to you.