December 18, 2014

10 Tips for Getting Your New Product Onto Store Shelves Faster

store shelves

Congratulations: You’ve spent a lot of blood, sweat and tears developing what you think is an incredible new product. Perhaps you’ve even built an entire company around that product. Now you’re finally ready to bring it to consumers or other businesses.

But as arduous as product development can be, getting that product onto shelves can be just as challenging, especially to first-time business owners.

To glean some tips for getting a new product the store placement it deserves, we asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question:

“What’s one piece of advice you’d give entrepreneurs trying to get a new physical product into a large store? What should they bring to the table to seal the deal?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Have a Reputable Track Record

“One thing entrepreneurs should bring to the table when trying to get a new product into a large store is solid proof of a reputable track record. If you’re a startup, big box retailers won’t give you a second look. The entrepreneur must also be willing to adjust to any requests made by the supplier, such as improving the product or adjusting the price point.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

2. Offer a Consignment Deal

“If the store is privately owned or managed by one or two individuals, you may have a great chance of getting your product on the shelves by offering a consignment deal. This means the vendor doesn’t have to take any upfront financial risk to stock your goods, but can still make money. It’s a great way to test and prove what their customers will buy, and everyone can make money at the same time.” ~ Benjamin Leis, Sweat EquiTees

3. Build Brands, Not Products

“Many entrepreneurs have developed great utilitarian products, but often forget that consumers don’t connect with products; they connect emotionally with brands. You must build a brand around your product in order for it to compete (or have credibility) in a large store setting. Stores need to see that you’re building more than a functional product — you’re committed to building a brand.” ~ Jake Stutzman, Elevate

4. Have Traction, Traction, Traction

“Ideally, you should have existing revenue or pre-orders. If you can show that your product is selling well, you greatly increase your chances of getting in. It is also important for entrepreneurs to bring production-quality prototypes and packaging, and be prepared to supply a large retailer. Crowdfunding is a great way to raise funding from customers to help achieve these milestones.” ~ Eric Corl, Fundable LLC

5. Have a Turnkey Wholesale Offering

“Large stores carry thousands of products. When you sell your product, you certainly need to demonstrate the product’s credibility (great press and a strong social following are helpful). Entrepreneurs cannot forget that large stores have very specific ways of working with vendors. Make it easy to integrate your brand by having a simple solution. Limit choice and mold your offer to their needs.” ~ Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

6. Build Your Online Marketing Assets

“Build up your online marketing assets. Stores look at a company’s ability to support the marketing efforts for the products they’re carrying. If a small business owner or entrepreneur has the ability to drive customers to the store, the store has that much more incentive to carry the entrepreneur’s product. So, start building up that Facebook following.” ~ Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

7. Focus on Customer Service

“Look at competing products sold in your product’s distribution channel, and then read the reviews. It’s amazing the positive feedback you can garner from users when you listen to their complaints and make a move to respond by changing your product. Even when you’re trying to compete on price, having customer support is crucial to establishing your product as a value buy and not a no-name lemon.” ~ Nanxi Liu, Enplug

8. Make Sure You Can Deliver

“Big-box stores are going to be looking for a partner who can fulfill and deliver upon orders. If you aren’t set up to scale, then don’t waste a large store’s time. You don’t have to have the inventory or the money to fulfill the order; all you need to do is have the processes worked out so you can call your manufacturers and have them flip a switch as soon as you need to.” ~ Matt Wilson, Under30Media

9. Know the Store

“You need to know the store you are pitching to, inside and out. Know which aisles/floors carry which brands and products; show them that you can fit in with these products. Nothing turns wholesale buyers off faster than when they feel you do not know their customer and/or product choices.” ~ Benish Shah, Vicaire Ny

10. Build a Network Before You Need It

“Just like in everything else, who you know matters. If you already have connections at a large store, you’re going to have a much easier time getting a meeting. That alone won’t seal the deal, but having the right connections will certainly smooth out the process.” ~ Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

Store Shelves Photo via Shutterstock

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The Young Entrepreneur Council


The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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