How to get your winning online products into brick-and-mortar retail stores
Brand building is an essential element as an Amazon FBA seller, but that doesn’t just mean Amazon. You can work on every aspect of your business and use the resources to slowly scale your business beyond an online store into retail space. And you are not alone. Many product-based brands want to be carried by major retailers. The question is how do you get your products into stores?
Amazon has already conquered the e-commerce space and is the leading online retailer. But here is the truth; despite the dominance of online stores like Amazon, physical stores still find their way to the top of that pile. The endless benefits retailers offer should be part of your business scaling plan.
In today’s climate, expanding your business past the online space will significantly increase your sales through increased customer reach.
Another benefit of targeting brick-and-mortar stores is having a separate income stream from your Amazon business. Running an Amazon FBA business comes at a risk. With Amazon policies changing now and then, there is no telling when you will run into problems like Amazon suspensions.
If your products are selling at a physical store, it means reduced risk because your goods can continue selling as you sort out your Amazon suspension issues. But the most significant benefit of targeting physical stores is increasing brand recognition and authority.
This article will outline how you can sell in retail stores as the next step in your selling journey.
What do retailers want to see when you approach them to sell your products in their stores?
There is a thrill in seeing your products on the shelf spaces of brick-and-mortar stores. Think about your beautiful packaging sparkling in front of a customer’s eyes!
With so much competition in the physical retail space, only a select few will achieve their retail goals. Landing your product in a major physical store isn’t an easy feat. It will take time and persuasion, and you must demonstrate to the retailer why your product is worth the shelf space.
So, what do retailers want to see before they determine if they’ll carry your product in their store?
#1 Proof of sale data
Retail stores face many challenges like paying overhead for rent, store fixtures, employees, utilities, signage, and furnishings.
Physical stores also operate on thin profit margins, and that’s why a store will have no problem discontinuing a product that isn’t generating enough sales.
So, when you approach a store, the first thing they want to see is data showing that you have had significant sales success online.
Ideally, if your products are not selling on Amazon, what makes you think it will be any different with a physical store? Prove your worth for the retail market.
#2 Showcase stunning branding and product portfolios
For physical stores, branding is everything. A physical store relies on foot traffic to make sales. A product must first attract buyers’ attention before they buy. Beautiful branding is something you need to work on.
Retail stores want to see a brand portfolio of multiple products that could naturally sell in their stores. Think about branding in a systematic approach and rebrand some of your most essential products specifically for retail if they aren’t up to par or if they need a retail refresh.
#3 Effective packaging
Fact: Packaging drives purchasing decisions more than TV ads, online reviews, and customer recommendations. 64% of customers will sometimes buy a product they haven’t even heard of because of the packaging.
Packaging is different for products sold online and in physical stores. At the moment, you might not have adequate retail shelf packaging for products you sell online since you never needed one.
But before you approach a physical store, you must consider packaging. First impressions count. Your goal is to be catchy. It’s common for customers to stop and stare at products. You must convince the retailer that your product can do that. A professional design will make your product worth its space.
Knowledge of marketing strategies
Marketing strategies like endcaps and point-of-purchase displays are vital in retail stores. An average shopper can be exposed to more than 20,000 products per shopping trip. Because of this competition, brands need to ensure that their products stand out and attract customers to make a purchase. Strategies like endcap displays, therefore, come into play.
A point of purchase display (POP display) is a custom display showcasing products outside their natural habitat but in a retail setting. POP displays are great for promoting a product and showcasing special offers and deals. A POP display also helps educate a potential customer on the offering and brand details.
An end cap display allows one to create visually appealing spaces that draw in shoppers. You must demonstrate to the retail store that you understand these strategies and that your product can effectively fit into and work in their retail store footprint.
What are the challenges sellers may face getting their products into retail stores?
Getting into retail stores is challenging, and only a few online sellers make the cut. Here are some of the challenges most sellers face when trying to get into retail:
Relationships with buyers in the chains: If you can’t develop a good relationship with buyers, there is no way a retail store will carry your products. Buyers are interested in only one thing- growing the total category value. If you can’t show them you understand their strategy, they will go with someone who does.
Relationships with the right buyers in the right departments: To get into retail, you must identify the right buyers to pitch to.
Difficulty knowing whether to launch your existing brand or create a diffusion brand with a different price point and adjusted branding: A diffusion brand is the second line of product that is supposed to appeal to a different target market. A diffusion brand could work when getting into retail to target consumers who will have the product flying off the shelves. But then, it could also overshadow your leading brand creating more problems.
Understanding how to set up your vendor number: A vendor number is given by a retail store if they agree to carry your product. However, most Amazon sellers don’t know how to set up a vendor number or what documents are required.
Capital to manufacture enough product for retail orders or financing to underwrite the orders: Getting a retail store to carry your product is one thing, and ensuring you have enough products is another. Most Amazon sellers don’t think about this when approaching retail stores and end up with zero products on the shelves because they don’t have the capital to handle large orders.
Logistics capabilities: You have to nail down everything, including how to manage all your logistics at the lowest cost, so you are not incurring losses in the end.
Tips for getting products into retail stores
There are over 1 million retail establishments across the United States, and retail stores have grown almost 4% annually since 2010. In 2020, there were 328,208 brick and mortar retail stores in the United States.
Online retail leaders are less than 10%.
It’s no longer an in-store vs. online debate. The narrative has changed. So, here are ways to get into retail as an online seller.
#1 Research the competition
To make it in the retail business, you need to know where your product sits when it comes to your competition.
- Who is your competition?
- What products are they selling?
- How much are their products selling for?
When researching the competition, we don’t mean going to Amazon. Researching competition on Amazon is useless because you are targeting retailers in this case.
Never underestimate the value of competitor data. Walking into a store, you are targeting will expose you to brands selling similar products. You can then establish their strengths and weaknesses, so you know how to make your product stand out from theirs.
#2 Work on your branding
Being an e-commerce-ready brand doesn’t mean that you are a retail-ready brand. But if you are retail-ready, then you are also e-commerce-ready.
Branding is everything in the retail industry. While growing a brand is not a one-time process, you need to work on your branding before you start selling. Branding, in this case, is all about the colors and images you choose to represent you to the public.
Have good branding for your website, social media pages, lifestyle images, and packaging. Your branding needs to be cohesive and show a preview of your products.
#3 Product data and marketing plan
To get into retail, you must clarify that your product has a unique selling point that will cause it to fly off the shelves. You must also understand your target audience, estimated demand, and suggested retail product price.
Highlight your promotional and marketing plans to the retailer to prove to the buyer that you are invested in helping them sell your product.
#4 Understand the buyer’s category mission and vision
What is the overall strategy of the buyer or retailer? How will you position your brand to align with their vision and mission for that category?
For instance, if the objective of the category is to provide responsible soft drink options, you have to determine how your product meets that pillar and whether your target audience is aligned with the same.
#5 Show you understand the retailer’s customer needs
Customer needs change from time to time and so do specific categories. For a retailer to carry your products, you must convince them you know what their customers in a particular category are looking for. Doing so shows that you know the category inside out.
Getting your products into retail stores is one of the best ways of expanding your reach. It is also a great way of having another stream of income. Amazon is unpredictable, and you never know what might happen in the future.
To keep your products moving, even when dealing with Amazon issues like suspensions, it helps if you have another way to reach customers. To get into retail, explain to the retailer the reasons why your product will fly off the shelves and what your product has that makes it unique.
That said, there has never been a better time to start your retail journey than now. If you’re looking for more info about your retail sales journey, head to projectretail.com
If your winning Amazon ASINs belong in retail stores, don’t struggle alone. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can determine if Project Retail is right for you.
Kelly Johnston is the glue that holds Riverbend Consulting together and was with the company at its founding. She survived 10 years in the digital salt mines of Amazon Seller Performance. Before that, Kelly held other e-commerce roles where she worked in content, sales, and operations. When not helping clients, Kelly is a talented artist. Collage and up-cycled assemblages are her current passions.
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