How Do I Get My Product in Stores?

If I had an FAQ section on The Mogul Mom, this question would definitely be top of the list.

So many of you write, “How do I get my product in stores?”

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 retailer

Know everything about them, their customer, their service, their standards, their pricing, their locations, their preferred communication method (email or phone), etc.

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 & 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 their 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”

I’m talking about 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. (Ex: 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 — a total “win-win”. This saves time by preventing your accounting department (probably YOU!) from having to hunt down retailers if they’re past due and gives the retailer something they love, a discount.

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.

4. Discuss what promotional items you provide with opening orders

Do you provide display stands, signage, gift with purchase, samples, etc?

Retailers will want to know if you provide a point-of-purchase (POP) stand that holds a dozen products or if you supply a poster featuring product information. The less work they have to do to merchandize and sell your product, the better.

5. Provide product samples in retail packaging

You don’t necessarily HAVE to provide samples–but be ready to if they request them. Some retailers need to see, feel and smell a product before carrying it. It is acceptable to charge for samples, especially if they are big ticket items or difficult to ship.

Retailers will want to know what type of packaging your product comes in because they almost always have very limited space to work with — is it a bag with hanging hook or is it something they will have to put on a shelf? Is it “gift ready” or will it need to be wrapped?

Big-box retailers (like Target, Wal-Mart, Sears, etc) will definitely want to see the product AND the packaging. They are VERY specific about their store image, their customer and their available “real estate”. They want your product in their hands for review before proceeding any further.

6. Provide any press clips, awards or accolades your product has received

You will want to show them these things because oftentimes, these things will SELL your product for you. Favorable press shows a retailer that your product is “worthy” of being on their shelves, that it has real salability. A magazine review might answer every question a retailer has about your product. Also, some retailers are very into “mom invented” products and products with a celebrity following.

7. Consider hiring an independent sales representative

A sales rep can help you negotiate with big-box retailers who usually have very specific guidelines, price requirements and shipping manuals.

Usually, independent sales reps work on commission–typically 10-15% of any sales they land for you. You can usually find sales reps on industry trade websites, trade publication ads or through word of mouth. When all else fails, do a Google search for sales reps.

Follow these steps and you’ll be rocking the retail scene in no time. 

Want to learn everything you need to know about getting your product into stores? Then click here to get Retail Ready!

Discussion

181 Responses to “How Do I Get My Product in Stores?”

  1. Tylesha says:

    Thanks for sharing! This was a great post…and since tomorrow will be my first call out to stores am a little nervous, however, quite excited because it sounds like I might have all my ducks in a row! Wish me luck! :-)

    • Tylesha,
      Good luck!! Let me know how it goes!!

      Heather

    • nancy rick says:

      I am attemting to start my business. I make a neck scarf and I have over 50 made up as samples. I now plan on taking these products to boutiques to try to get them to sell them.
      I have labels for them, and some attractive metal hangers to hang them on for display in the shops.
      I have my resale certificate.
      Do I need a trademark?
      Do I need any other tags for the items?
      Needless to say, I’m scared to death. But….
      Am ready and willing to make a go of it.

      Any other advice?
      Thank you.

      • Hi Nancy,

        Sounds like you’re off to a good start! Congratulations on starting your business!

        I don’t believe you need a trademark or any other tags…I think you’re ready to go!

        Wishing you much success!
        Heather

      • V. Baker says:

        I happen to work for a company that helps you do this exact thing. We are an online portal for new products to assist qualified manufacturers in gaining traction and getting exposure for that new item. Our sister company also helps with brokerage, website building, etc. Email me of you would like info. We are offering a free trial at this time.

      • Darla Cummings says:

        Hi Nancy,
        Iam just beginning to start my new line(jeans) can you explain to me how you went about making up your labels? is this handeled by the manufacturer? if so did you fine your supplier from Alibaba.com? I welcome any and all information that you are willing to share.

        Thanks,
        Darla

        • vera says:

          Hi Darla,

          Viviona offers elite private label services. We can help you from A to Z. As long as you have a design, we can turn them into prototype and production for you. email viviona@viviona.com if you need more info.

          thanks

          Vera

  2. Thanks Savanna – glad you enjoyed it!

    Heather

  3. Sandy Dell says:

    Hi Heather,

    Excellent post! Having sold to over 400 retail outlets, I can fully endorse your recommendations. Selling to retail shops is really not as hard as it seems. Just do your homework first!

    One note, I would recommend selling to small mom-n-pop type store first, to get your feet wet, before trying to sell to big box stores. They are a whole different animal that most producers are not ready to deal with right out of the chute!

    Best,
    GiftRepSandy Dell
    http://www.SellingtoGiftShops.com

    • Thank you for that great advice. We are a manufacturer of low calorie cocktail mixes and a alcohol frozen martini in a pouch. We are now in local CA convenient stores but ready to get in on the retail level. Before I contact them, is there a general rule on who pays for shipping costs?

      Regina

  4. This is a great list. As a retailer it is a similar to the list I give to new product manufacturers. One more.

    8. Do not sell in competition to your retailers. If you must sell retail, set your prices higher than the MSRP. Do not put items on sale to your retail customers w/o also offering a similar discount to your retailers so they can match it. Do not put your website URL on the package if you also sell retail.

    9. Use your site to educate the public and have a list of retailers instead of retail sales. Concentrate on wholesale and leave the retail sales to your retailers.

  5. Josh Robinson says:

    This is great information! Do you have on any information on how to find packaging for products you are developing. We have a granola bar that we are putting together but have a had a hard time finding good packaging. Any ideas? Thanks!

  6. Heather,

    Well Hello!!! I typed a question into google and your site came up. I had a great read about how to get my friends company into retailers. Ok so this is where I am at. I recently (2weeks ago) moved from the US Virgin Islands to Melbourne, Australia to work for a friend of mine’s LED Lighting and Design company that he just opened. Since he is such a new company he currently is not making many sales and has put me in charge of selling. Ok fine I can do that I say to myself. So I have been calling around to electrical contractors and architects. I have been getting great feedback from the people I have called. I have been mailing out hard copy and electronic mailings of a brochure, catalogue and price list of all 28 of our products.
    So my question to you is how do I go about calling an electronic supplier,(or a retail store) to electricians, and asking them to sell my products. When I call up who do I ask for? Do I just tell them that I want them to stock their shelves with our product or do I go the more passive route and ask how I would go about them stocking our product. The thing about the market I am in right now, is that these retail stores and suppliers have not tapped into the LED market yet. I am probably the first they have heard of a manufacturer wanting to sell in their store or they have a very small inventory of LEDs. I have done my research and understand the stores I want to get into. It may be that I just need to grow some balls lol and call, but I want to do it the professional way.
    So yeah if you have any suggestions on how I might go about it I am all open ears.
    Thanks,
    -JP

  7. Wondering how to get your product into stores? Here’s a head start: http://ht.ly/5BB0f | via @heathALL

  8. Jackie Nguyen says:

    Hi Heather,

    thank you so much for posting this information for business like me and I really appreciate it. I have one quick question and I need your help. Okay, I am planning to e-mail stores like Macy, Sear, Target etc to ask them if I could submit my products to them etc….

    How should I go about writing in this email that I am about to send them? What should I said in this email?

    Thank you so much for your help and time.

    Jackie

  9. AZhara says:

    Thanks so much for that valuable information I just found you from your interview with yp.com and found this gem of information for my business it helps for someone to give you information that’s general yet very specific!

  10. Tanya says:

    I am just starting out and this website is very informative…thank you

  11. Thank you so much for all the information. I’m a new inventor of a hygiene product line called Stinkyboyz for boys and kids all sport theme soap balls hair & body wash and all natural deodorant line. OMG, what a journey it’s taken almost 3yrs to get here. The Products are done and we recently launched on the web but now we are getting distribution with retailers and dot.com. You are definitely right when you say it’s important to be ready. When dealing with retail chains and you must have an experience sales rep. He has the relationship with retailers and buyer for the chains. To all the mom entrepreneurs out there don’t give up and be encouraged ! Stay the course and be focused and surround yourself with positive and motivating people and site likemogulmom ! Thank you ! Vancouver moms we will be in your area in High School Phamacy in mid-October 2011.

  12. This information is very motivating to us. Please check out our Website at http://www.theluvbugbabies.com/ We are the “Onesies with Style”. I just want to know if you could give us a little guidence on how to get our product to a retailer or if you thing our product would sell. We are not yet well known but we really think we have something. Please let me know what you think! Thank you…

  13. Liko says:

    Hi I love this stuff.. I just made my product .. Plus the packaging .. The problem I’m having is do I need a barcode ? And does it have to be labeled where it’s made ?

  14. Pam says:

    My Daughter and I have worked on a product haven’t had a lot of internet traffic, we are wanting to get our product in local retail shops. How do we approach the owners or buyers, do we cold call or call and try to get an appointment if so how much info do we release over the phone about our product to keep our foot in the door for an appointment? Brand new and very nervous about this, hope you can clear this up for us

  15. Liz says:

    Thanks for sharing! I am already in a couple of boutiques and interior design stores but they contacted me and not the other way around and I have been thinking about how to reach out to more stores.

    Thanks!
    Liz:)

  16. sheamamanaturals says:

    I make natural baby skincare. I have been emailing a couple of local mom and pop shops. I cant wait to get my product in a shop

  17. Andrea says:

    Hi Heather,
    Thank you sooo much for all the information. I am just the one you said a new company who wants to get my products sale in the retail store in Australia. But I got a difficult in how to start to contact to the stores and introduce my products. I don’t know how to do it in a professional way. Like what should I refer in the email when I have a first contact with them. I would be really appreciate if you have any recommends.
    Cheers,
    Andrea

  18. Val Russo says:

    Hello Heather, :) can you help me please, i am working on my product and i wanna sell my product in retail stores, do i have to build a brand before i sell to the stores or i can sell to the stores without brand name, just a product ?

    Thank you very much, and i am sorry for my english, english it my second language :)

    Val :)

  19. Myra says:

    Hi Heather,

    Great information! Thank you so much for sharing. I have two questions, if a retailer has a set agreement in place, i.e. 60/40 split, what are the odds of being able to negotiate? Also, what types of contract(s) should I have in place as with this retailer?

    Thanks!

  20. John Punderson says:

    Heather,

    Well I did it!! Yesterday I signed a trade agreement with a company with 186 stores around Australia. We have expanded our product range to 67 products and now have over 600 nationwide sales reps in those stores helping us sell our LED lights.
    While it was hard getting into the stores, I found that having a premium product with a solid warranty and great rated life was my key through the gate keepers of purchasing departments and supplier relations.

    Now the true challenge will be to not just meet the standards, but exceed them.

    To others trying to get into stores, make sure your product is quality and you can obtain it in a lead time of 2-3 weeks or less. Then contact the purchasing, product manager, or supplier relation departments within the company you are trying to get into. Just work through their system and keep on them weekly (they get 100 of these calls a day), don’t get discouraged and make sure you write down their contact info and direct lines, so you can contact them directly and not have to go through the reception.

    Thanks for the help.

    Regards,

    JP

    • John!

      That’s so awesome! Congratulations – such wonderful news.

      And thank you SO much for sharing terrific tips with other product people. Very cool of you to “pay it forward” that way.

      Keep us posted on your continuing success!
      Heather

  21. Trendy Tabs says:

    Does anyone know of a good way to get a list of boutiques/gift shops all across the country?

    • John Punderson says:

      http://www.100giftshops.com/

      But if you want a more detailed way with the company name, phone number, address, on an excel spread sheet, you can go on http://www.odesk.com and click on hire, then click on sales and marketing, then click around until to find an affordable person to find all this info for you. It may be called lead generation, but just click around and retain as much as you can from the site for future use.
      We use this website for a lot of different projects with out company. Its very useful. Just make sure you test the person you are going to hire on a small task, before moving on to a larger task. I have had some amazing work done for as little as 4 usd an hour.
      Check it out

      -JP

  22. Shinya says:

    Hi Heather,

    Wow! What a wonderful article…! I was googling for tips to sell my products to retail store and voila…! I landed to a great surprise. It was a great read for people who love to create things but have no idea how to promote it like myself.

    I know I will be coming back to reread the article again. Great insight in promoting my products. Sorry, but I am actually a MogulDAD, so I kinda disqualify for your site. ;-) Just wanted to say thank you for your informative article.

    Have a great Holiday season!

    Sincerely,
    Shinya

  23. JULIET says:

    HI HEATHER,

    Thanks for your very insightful article.
    What about a situation where a retailer stocks your product but does nto buy wholesale from you. What systems should be put in place to make sure you receive the correct payment for each product and they receive their commission. How does this work?

  24. Thank you for the wonderful tips! This is a great guide and will def help me when I start contacting retailers.

  25. Bo says:

    Thank you for the great post ! I was googling for tips as well and found your article. It helps alot. Thank you Heather. :-)

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  27. Hi, very nice post with lots of useful info. I wrote up a very detailed post regarding the same thing, in case you’re interested, it may help your readers also. http://www.enhancetrade.com/marketing/how-to-sell-to-major-retail-chains-a-detailed-guide-for-wholesalers/

    BTW, regarding sales reps, it is very tough to find good reps. If you own the company, I can pretty much guarantee that you will have better success going into a major retailer than a rep. Reps are good for smaller independent stores by going door to door. Or for outbound calls/follow ups.

  28. Vicki F says:

    Thank you for this info! I am a mom and entrepreneur of herb kits and have been selling privately for years and now would like to venture out into retail. It’s a whole new ballgame!

  29. Adam says:

    Hi Heather,

    Your so kind to pass on such good quality information and help people realise their dreams. And a fantastic community you facilitate.

    I have an opportunity to sell a great range of products on behalf of a retailer. I think these products may be imported, so how do I go about getting the rights to sell the product? Or protect myself from being cut out if the retailer goes directly to the wholesaler?

    Thanks for your help.

    Adam (mogul dad) : )

  30. Kirk Arsenault says:

    Hi Heather,
    I am a single working working father who has put a product on to retailers shelves. I wrote an e-book about it and priced it quite low. It is available on Amazon Kindle for 2.99. The book was being offered free until two days ago as a promotion, sorry I wasn’t in touch sooner. This book talks about the details of bringing a product from concept to reality and ensures people don’t get ripped off from the start. Unfortunately I did…which is the main motivation behind the book. The information that is provided is a simple 7 step guide and can save people thousands of dollars and and valuable time. Anyway, here is the link to it if anybody is interested: (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006U0WLCE).
    As well, my email is also included in the book for people with questions about this process.

    Kind Regards,

    Kirk Arsenault

  31. Annette Frey says:

    Hi Heather!

    What form do you like to put the press clippings in for in-store? My product is usually on a shelf. Also, how many press mentions? Top 3? 5?

    I always struggle with this. Plus need it to last. Do you just laminate?

    TIA!

  32. Yvonne says:

    Hello, I just launched a new makeup line in Georgia and I am in need of sales representatives. Any help that can be provided will be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    • Sandy Dell says:

      Hi Yvonne,

      If Heather does not mind, here is a resource that will help you find sales reps:

      http://www.squidoo.com/where-to-find-sales-representatives-for-your-gift-products

      Good Luck,
      Sandy Dell

      • Yvonne says:

        Thank you sooooo much!

      • I don’t mind at all! Thank you for helping, Sandy! :)

      • shruthi says:

        Hi Heather,
        An excellent way of imparting information. love this site!!
        I have been working on a food product and will have it in production early this year (hopefully if everything goes as planned). The design, logo, label are ready, I am just waiting for the production plant to give me costings for my ingredient, that way I have an understanding of how to quote my price.But I do need some questions answered.
        They are as follows:
        – Once my product is ready for stores, I plan on making cold calls and talking to the store owners to see if I can have them sample my product, or if I can do Demos, what’s the best method of approach?
        – once I have identified the stores, do I then use the sales rep for this purpose or do I still need to work with distributors?
        – How do retailers identify the price they choose to sell my product in their stores, is it something we will discuss or will they quote the price.
        – what food blogs do I use to have my product get recognition and Buzz, do food bloggers typically taste to give their feedback or do I just send a brochure to have them reply to my product??

        Hope you can get back to me at your earliest, and help me navigate this maze in an easy way:))

        Shruthi

    • vera says:

      Hi Yvonne,

      Viviona offers elite private label services in the fashion and beauty industry. Let me know if you need any help in the future. We can help you from A to Z.

      thanks

      Vera

  33. Jonathan Nunez-Giron says:

    Inventors or product companies looking to get product into any of the major retailer might consider our free webinar: Selling to the Masses. It’s taught by CPG and retail veterans from our office in Bentonville, Arkansas:http://www.sellingtothemasses.com/

  34. Dan says:

    Thanks for the info Heather.

    Question- Is it better to establish an online sales track record to show retailers? Or approach retailers and launch informational online retail/wholesale site simultaneously ?

  35. Ade says:

    Hello Heather,

    Thanks for all the wonderful infromation. I really find your posting very helpful and practical. I am looking to buy the retail ready packs you mentioned. Pls can you send the correct link to me as the ones above are not operational.

    Well done and please do keep it up!

    Many thanks

    Ade

  36. Michelle says:

    Thank you for the advice!
    As a start up business I am always looking for ways to Improve :)
    beachgirlbodygoods.com
    Michelle

  37. Joan says:

    Hi Heather
    I am really pleased to have found your website as you address many of the issues I have thus far battled to get clarity on. I would, however, appreciate your advice following an experience of mine which has left me disheartened and nervous to approach retailers with my product. I am distributing an excellent branded product – recognised internationally as the original in its class – and approached a well-known retailer locally. I gave a full product sales pitch focussing on the quality of the product, its appeal to customers and how I envisaged its being sold in store. This I did via e-mail directly to the relevant buyer (following an initial telephone enquiry requesting procedural information for introducing a new product). The buyer advised me to “send samples and we’ll take it from there” – which I did. I then heard nothing further and when following up was sent a curt e-mail advising it’s not in their “strategy”. Within 2 months, the retailer was stocking an imitation product in small packaging under its own label and has since rolled it out on a grand scale in line with the concept I had sketched. I do not know if this was a store decision to use my concept with their own substitute product or if the buyer presented my concept as her own. Either way, I fear this will happen again as my requests for contact/buyer details etc are invariably met with ‘just send an e-mail with details…’ to a non-specific address or person. When sharing my experience with others, the response is invariably the same. “But that’s what the retailers do – steal your ideas – don’t go there”. So now I am hesitant to give away too much information or samples too soon, but then how much information should one give in order to secure an opportunity to present ones product formally to a retailer? Should one even bother with them?
    Tx

    • Hi Joan,

      Wow – I’ve never heard of something like that before. I’m sorry that happened to you!

      I’m not really sure how to advise you except to say that I hope this situation was the exception and not the rule. If your product is patented, then you may want to have your attorney contact this retailer.

      Going forward, I might just give your line sheets and order forms and if a retailer requests samples, let them know there’s a small charge for them. That’s completely acceptable and might prevent things like this.

      Again, I’m sorry. :(
      Heather

  38. Hi Mrs. Heather. Very good information. I am also concerned about someone stealing my Idea. I think it’s more common than people may think. All buyers my not sign a none disclosure. I have a product that is not on the market. People who have seen it and use it, like it. Its for utility purposes. I do have a provision patent. After one year, you need to have a utility patent. This product is very inexpensive to make. if made in China. Example: it cost .16. In the U.S. it would cost 1.75. This product is more convenience than a necessity but if the price is low enough example: 2.99, 3.99, or 4.99. People will buy that convenience. it would go very well in Home depot. I’m afraid unless they sign a non-disclosure but I heard that they won’t sign any agreement. I don’t know if that’s true but it probably is. Their so huge There all over the world. If I offer this product they my just order the some product from china even though it is not common. I had to look around and have prototypes made because it’s not something on the market. Hears is an experience that a friend of mine had. He offered a hand held portable electric tool. The large company, not home depot said they were not interested. I don’t want to use the name of the store but its nationwide. I will just say their head quarter is in Chicago in a large building named Sears towers, go figure. Within a year after rejecting my friend’s tool it was on their shelves. You just wouldn’t think a respectable large nationwide store would do that, but they did.

  39. Joan says:

    Thanks Heather and Gerald for your replies. I really appreciate it.
    All the best,
    Joan

  40. dan says:

    Have a question.

    Spoke in length with the owner of a small chain if health food stores. He said it’s easier and more effective to go to distributors, as opposed to directly to retailers. Saying that the retailers buy from the distributors, so if we crate excellent margins for them they would push our products to the stores.

    Thoughts?

  41. Ben says:

    Wow. Thanks for this article. You’ve basically answered every question that I’ve been researching the web for.

  42. Dan says:

    So I am a bit confused. I have now heard 2 distinctly different methodoligies in getting a product into stores.

    First one is to approach the stores’ buyer/purchasers and follow up and continue to try to press until you get a face to face. Then sell them on your product.

    Second one is to approach the distributors. The companies that distribute to the big box stores. You want to get in with them.

    Which one is bettter? Easier? Less time consuming? Etc….

    Lastly. Once you are on the shelf do you just sit back and let the retailer sell your product or do you now move forward with advertising (TV, radio, etc.) to get customers to those stores looking for your product?

    Any insight is much appreciated!

    Thx

    • Dan – either approach is fine and would really depend on whether or not there are distributors for your particular kind of product. Also, you could employ sales reps – that’s what I did vs. distributors. Personally, I found having sales reps (and I would imagine, distributors) much easier because that was their area of expertise and where they focus their time/energy.

      Regarding once your product is in stores – you can never really “sit back” – you have to always be nurturing the relationship with the retailer. Certainly one of the ways to do that would be to promote your product via advertising. Another might be to have a “Where to Buy” section on your site.

      I hope that helps!
      Heather

  43. Sandy Dell says:

    If you don’t mind me jumping in here Dan, I have a resource that may help you find sales reps: http://www.squidoo.com/where-to-find-sales-representatives-for-your-gift-products

    Good luck,
    Sandy Dell

  44. Don Howard says:

    very imformative website Heather Does anyone/ you have a list of distributors for childrens products such as board books?

  45. Sandy Dell says:

    Don and Dan,

    Don Debelak, from One Stop Invention, has compiled a list of sales reps that sell to different markets. I am not sure if distributors are included on these list, but you might check in with him about it. The lists are for sales here: http://tinyurl.com/cjnub96.

    And my husband and I have written an eguide, The Complete Guide to Selling to Gift Shops (or any retail outlets) that may answer your questions. Details are here: http://www.selltogiftshops.com/

    Hope this helps!
    Sandy Dell

    • Thank you, Sandy! (again!) That looks like a great list! :)

      • Dan says:

        Sandy,

        Thanks. Quick question regarding independent sales reps.

        What is the typical commission rate for them? I have read 15%, is that correct?

        Also, if a rep is trying to sell to a big retailer that will request a wholesale price, how do you factor that into commission paid out to the rep? If the product is sold at 40% wholesale discount plus 15% to the rep, margins will be squeezed significantly. Thoughts?

        Thx!

        • Sandy Dell says:

          Dan,

          Basically, you are figuring your pricing out backwards! The rep commission should be factored into the wholesale price from the start.

          Rather than go through a lengthy explanation here, can I suggest you sign up for our FREE 9-lesson course on Pricing Your Products. Click here: http://www.SellingtoGiftShops.com. The sign up box is in the upper right hand corner of the website.

          And yes, standard commission rate for a gift sales rep (and most other industries that are similar) is 15%.

          If you have any further questions, you can email me direct at GiftRepSandy@gmail.com.

          Good luck,
          Sandy

  46. Great tips! I have a new product to wholesale to gift shops, and I definitely need all the help I can get!

  47. dan says:

    What is the difference between hiring an independent rep and a broker? I know a rep takes on avg 15%, and a broker 5; but what does a broker do that is different?

  48. Tresha says:

    Hi! I enjoyed the information you shared. I am currently trying to present my jewelry line to some major department stores. Do you have any tips? I would really like to have my line in at least one retail store for the Spring 2013 season.

    Thanks,
    Tresha

  49. dan says:

    What are your thoughts on the risks of hiring an independent rep, from the standpoint of possibly burning a big box retailer bridge?

  50. Angela says:

    Hi…I have a “new” product that I want to get out there, but am worried once I present it either on my own website or to buyers at a retail store that my idea will be taken and then made with their own label. How do I protect my new invention?

  51. Bree says:

    Thank you for this awesome information! I have my first appt with a grocer on Friday for my Skinny Dinner Starters and found this super helpful list you created. All the following commentary was helpful as well. Thanks agan!

  52. johanna marsden says:

    hi, i am a fan but i wanted to express that I hate it when my stores bring in a wonderful product and after a few months, they get rid of it! what is that about? just recently, i bought an awesome product called NeverScrub and my local Publix store got rid of it to make way for some bigger, named corporate company. how sad for the little guys! in addition, neverscrub is so much better. now i have to buy these online ;(

  53. fabiana says:

    Hi, your information is of great help,as I am planning to sell indian -western tunics and indian bags, and as i think it will rock here I am completely new in this but I have so much desire to become a business women . how do i go for it and what kind of package will I need for such products my bags will also be of cloth .thank you

  54. Darla Cummings says:

    Hi Heather,
    I am just beginning with my new line of women’s clothing, (jeans) so I am insearch of a manufacturer. Do you have any recommendations that you would like to share? I was looking on the website that you mentioned (Alibaba.com) but there are so many that I feel overwhelmed! I welcome any info that you can offer me.

    Sincerely,
    Darla

    • dan says:

      Be careful with Alibaba, it is pretty awful. There are a lot of scammers on there.

    • Hi Darla! I found my overseas manufacturer on Alibaba and maybe I got lucky, but I loved them and never had any problems with them. If you stick to “Gold Suppliers”, you’ll probably find one much easier. Or, ask around if you know anyone who manufacturers a product. Hang in there! :) Heather

    • vera says:

      Hi Darla,

      Viviona offers elite private label services. We helped our clients with denim lines including selvedge denim lines before. We can help you to turn your designs into production. We offer our services for free with $2000 deposit which will go into your production order. We can help you to lower your risks and achieve better communication. you can email us here viviona@viviona.com

      thanks

      Vera

  55. Ben says:

    Darla,
    Heather also directed me toward Alibaba.com and I have managed to find a very good manufacturer for my product. Definitally stick to the gold suppliers. I sent out an RFQ detailing exactly what I wanted, with pictures and all. I had about 30 manufacturers contact me after that. Then I just sifted through the ones who did the best job answering my questions and telling me what I wanted to hear. If they didn’t… they were gone. It was pretty easy to tell which companies were not trying very hard or were scammers. But, so far I really like my manufacturer.

  56. Is there anyone out there than can share any information on how use your designers logo’s on your clothing products? is this something that is created by your manufacturer? or is there another venue that I need to seek out in regards to the creation of my logo labels?

    Thanks,
    Darla

    • Hi Darla – that’s a great question. I had a graphic designer create logo labels for me and then she transferred the files to my manufacturer, who then printed and sewed them on the items. There are specific file size/type guidelines for these types of labels though, so be sure to ask your manufacturer what they’ll need before having your designer create them.

  57. Somy says:

    Hi Heather,

    I just stumbled upon your site/blog and wow what an amazing wealth of information here. I was very nice to see some of the questions and answers

    I have 2 ideas and been doing research on it and not finding good info and need help.

    Firstly I want to put my BBQ chicken – either in a marinade form or fully cooked into grocery stores. So want to know if I can do this from home to marinade or need a commercial kitchen for which I cannot invest right now :-(. Say if I can do this from home, how can I get boxes for them… Do I need to look for manufacturers (Alibab.com) or do I just buy it from some websites? And how can I work to place them in stores?

    Secondly, I am trying to get children’s cloths from from a wholesaler and sell them. They are not name brands,but high quality very pretty cute dresses for babies and girls. How can I get them to place it in stores?

    Regards,
    somy

  58. Wrenna Mappus says:

    Hi Heather,
    I just started a small quilt company. I make dog and cat quilts. I was think about going around to pet store in my area. But I am not a sales person, so I don’t really know how to approach this. Also I am not sure what price to put on them. My quilts are all designed and made my me only. They are not you everyday pet quilts. Any suggestions.

    Wrenna

  59. Sandy Dell says:

    Hi Somy,

    Sounds like you have a wonder product with your BBQ chicken. But I must advice you NOT to try to market either product wholesale without processing a commercial kitchen. You may be fined or possibly even go to jail if you try wholesale what you produce in your home kitchen.

    Having said that, you have two products which will need to be handled separately. One is you chicken product. You will have need to have your chickens processed in a USDA facility and maybe inspected by a USDA official as well. I would suggest you first work on wholesaling your sauce/marinade which is an easier item to make and market.

    If you wholesale your sauce/marinade, it too needs to be made in a certified kitchen. You don’t necessarily need one of your own as they may be one you can rent. But once again, you have two options here: processing with small pots in a commercial kitchen such as at a school, a restaurant on off hours, or at a club (like the YMCA etc.). This can work, but what you will really need it to find a certified sauce or acidified foods kitchen. We made our sauces in a kitchen equipped with 40 – 70 gallon steam-jacket kettles and bottle filling equipment. We were able to find two such kitchens in our state (Idaho) — one owned and operated by the University of Idaho and the other was a business incubator run by the city of Sandpoint, Idaho. Depending on where you live, you may have to travel many miles to find one that will work for you.

    On the other hand, if you marinade is dry, you can use a simple commercial dry kitchen which may be much easier to find (they don’t need as much expensive equipment).

    I suggest you contact your local Small Business Development Center, the State Dept. of Agriculture and/or your Ag Extension Office. They may be able to steer you in the right direction.

    Also, my husband, Malcolm, has some wonderful on-line resources that may be helpful.

    http://snipurl.com/communitykitchen

    http://snipurl.com/commercialization

    http://snipurl.com/foodmarketing

    Good luck,

    Sandy Dell
    Gourmet Innovations
    GiftRepSandy@gmail.com

  60. Somy says:

    Hi Sandy,

    Wow that was a great insight into how to go about my idea. Really appreciate the time you took in writing to me. I will also check the link you provided…am sure it will have some great information.
    I live in WA state and I think I have read something about a shared kitchen sought of a thing for sauces or dry rubs. Not sure if gourmet dishes can also be prepared and packed there….will try to find it out.

    Regards,
    Somy

  61. Sandy Dell says:

    Hi Somy,

    If you would like to contract me direct with your location, I may be able to tell you where the kitchens are located near you.

    Sandy Dell
    GiftRepSandy@gmail.com

  62. This is a great article. Thank you for posting and providing such informative information!!

  63. Jessica Hook says:

    Definitely agree with knowing everything you can about the retailer first. I’ve been selling into the big retail chains for brands for the last 4 years and just in the process of setting up my own retail brand, so can’t wait to start approaching retailers for my own products!

    Too often, people just half heartedly (or misguidedly) send generic material out to too many retailers without being targeted or strategic and then wonder why they can’t get any traction or be taken seriously. Selling into retailers can be tough if you don’t speak in their language, but as soon as you start thinking from the retailer’s perspective things suddenly become a lot clearer and easier. It isn’t rocket science, you just need to follow some simple steps and have persistence.

    I’ve compiled some info on this exact topic (how to approach retailers, how to find key contacts, what to cover in a pitch meeting etc), so follow my website link if you want any more info or happy to answer questions over email if anyone wants some more tips!

  64. Zahra says:

    Hi, I’m a young person whos very intrigued and inspired to start designing some dresses etc. From my research, I have realised what a step and what hard work it is. My current plan is basically to design them, have them made, and then supply them to boutiques. Does anybody have any clear instructions and tips how to break these boutiques? One boutique I am particularly interested in selling to requires a lookbook through email. I want to know what exactly should this consist off as I’d only be a junior in the business industry and wont exactly have a website with a mass production of dresses etc. aside from keeping the finance in mind, what else is there to focus on and keep in mind in Order to be successful and supply the boutique of my dream-and much more!. Tips suggestions and replies please, thanks.

  65. Sandy Dell says:

    Hi Zahra,

    I am not an expert in selling to clothing boutiques, but my friend, Andreea Ayers, is! She has lots of resources, but what may interest you the most is her retailer lists. She has one specifically for fashion and apparel.

    Check out my affiliate link to her lists here:

    https://nb941.infusionsoft.com/go/retailstores/GiftRepSandy/

    Good luck,
    Sandy Dell
    Gift Rep Sandy

  66. J. Faubert says:

    Thanks for this fantastic article! We’ve recently launched our online fashion boutique and are considering approaching local Canadian boutiques in the new year. I’m a little nervous about it but now I’m feeling much more confident since reading your article. Thanks again :)

  67. Thanks so much for the great info. I am now working to expand my craft business and, although I have targeted a few outlets I believe would be interested in selling my work, I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. Valuable resource! :)

  68. caroline says:

    Hi I was wondering if you could tell me how to get things packaged. I have a product that I would like to package but it has small pieces. Right not I just put them in small bags when I ship. But I would like to have them professionally packaged in plastic so I can offer them to retail stores. But I have no idea how to do that or even where to start. I tried looking for books online but I don’t even know where to start. Would LOVE some advice!

  69. Suzanne Mezgec says:

    I am a Canadian mom inventor of a Scarf Hanging device I have a working prototype ready but have hit a wall when it comes to what to do next. Would you have any advise for me I have applied for an Industrial Design license here in Canada and still awaiting confirmation it has been 6 months. It’s overwhelming and confusing at times have spoken to many professionals and understand that everyone is out to make money so at this stage I am at a stand still. The prototype costs me 65 dollars to make and would love to license my product out to someone who has greater connections in manufacturing and the distribution end of business.
    Thanks so much.
    Suzanne Mezgec

    • Hi Suzanne…my best advice to you would be to hang in there. It *does* take quite a bit of time from concept to consumer. I don’t have any experience with Canadian processes, as I’m in the US, but you might try http://mominventors.com to see if they offer any info that might help. Wishing you much success! :) Heather

  70. Hi Suzanne,

    You might also want to check out Don Debelak’s website and information as he works extensively with inventors: http://onestopinventionshop.net/.

    His book is excellent and may also help: Bringing Your Product to Market.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0471715530/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=giftbusinessbooks-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0471715530

    Good Luck,
    Sandy

    • Suzanne Mezgec says:

      Thank you so much for your response. Is Don Debalak reportable because I went to one here in Toronto and they want to charge you 5ooo dollars but there and no! guarantees so the inventor is really put on the line.
      Thanks again:)

  71. I am sorry Suzanne, I don’t understand your question!

    Sandy Dell

  72. Kate,
    My website is http://www.SellingtoGiftShops.com. On the site is a list of all my resources, including my 3 eGuides:
    *Complete eGuide to Selling to Gift Shops
    *How to Find, Manage and Recruit Sales Reps eGuide
    *Trade Show Exhibiting Secrets eGuide

    I also have a Mastermind group and business consulting options.

    Looking toward to hearing from you!

    Sandy Dell

  73. My pleasure Heather!

    Sandy

  74. lori kinlaw says:

    It took me a few years to create a product that ended up in several retail stores and sold successfully. I ended up selling out of product and running out of money. This was due to faulty manufacturers in the U.S. Once I found a manufacturer in China and several months and many prototypes I can actually make money. Unfortunately my provisionary patent has run out and I found out my trademark was already taken after 1 yr. I want to start again. I have a wonderful product for the pet industry but I just dont know how to start this up again. I cant get any large retailers like Petco, Persmart or others to look at it. I spent yrs doing the research. Any advise how to start up again? Or actually be motivated and excited. After taking a year off it’s really tough. I have a great product that sells. Lori Kinlaw. BTW. I took my website down last year when I sold out..

    • Hi Lori,
      I’m sorry the past year has been so tough for you. Have you worked with sales reps before? Often, a seasoned sales rep can help you get into those big box retailers. Also, you should write a thorough business plan if you haven’t already. I really love Hit the Deck by David Ronick – it shows you step by step how to create a solid business plan.

      Wishing you much success!
      Heather

      • Lori says:

        Hi Heather,

        I actually have a business plan but it’s probably out dated by now. I will look into the book you refrenced. Getting a sales rep is probably where I need to go. I’m acutally meeting with someone today who used to have a very successful dog product for additional advise. I’m looking for Angel Investors. I know they’re hard to come by. I did try a few years ago. Thanks again for your advise.

  75. Lori,
    Don Debelak has some excellent resources that may help you. He also has a list of Pet Store sales reps that you can purchase here: http://www.payloadz.com/go/jump?id=1321788&aff_id=3427295

    He may also be able to give you some advice/help concerning your patent!

    Good luck,
    Sandy

  76. Megha says:

    Hi Heather ,
    Thanks for sharing so much of valuable information.I am looking for the independent sales representative for my kids product ( Mother’s Hand headrest) available at http://www.mothershandheadrest.com. Also if I contact them what should I write.Any help is appericiated.
    Thanks
    Megha

  77. Megha,

    Let me suggest another resource for you in finding sales reps:

    http://www.squidoo.com/where-to-find-sales-representatives-for-your-gift-products

    There is a link near the bottom for buying sales rep list that includes a list of reps for baby and children’s products.

    As for what to say when you contact them — let me suggest that you email sales reps a wholesale price sheet and some photos of your products. Let them know that you are looking for a rep and ask if they are interested in taking on a new line. From there, I would follow up with a phone call 4-5 days later asking if they received your info and what their thoughts are about your line.

    Good luck,
    Sandy

  78. Quincy says:

    Hi,

    Your info is so helpful! But I need help here: Do I need a resale license to sell wholesale to small shops? Or any other licenses, for that matter. I’m just getting started with my cute slipper business. I live in California.

    • Hi Quincy,
      Thanks so much – glad you’re enjoying the site. I don’t think you’ll need a license to sell wholesale, but I believe you’ll need a seller’s/reseller’s license/permit from your state. I would check with your state’s taxation office/website.I hope that helps! :)
      Heather

    • Sandy Dell says:

      Hi Quincy,
      Heather is correct — you need to check with your state, county and/or city to see what licenses you may need.

      Generally speaking, you will need a resale permit IF you plan to BUY products for wholesaling. In other words, if you would want to purchase a widget to add to you product, in order to save paying sales tax (because it is a resalable item), you will need to have your resale certificate on file with the supplier.

      When you sell you products wholesale to retailers, you will need THEIR resale certificate number or as in Idaho, there is a form for retailers to fill out that requires their resale number. Should you get audited by the state of California, you will probably need these forms in order to prove that you were selling wholesale and do not need to pay sales taxes on these sales.

      You should be able to find detailed information on the internet under California sales tax rules.

      Hope this helps!
      Sandy

    • Sarah Shaw says:

      Quincy – I did business for many years in CA – you need to contact the State Board of Equalization and get a resale license to sell wholesale (to be sales tax exempt) and to operate an online store as well. You also need to file a DBA and a business license in your city.
      Sarah

  79. Hi,

    Your info is so helpful! But I need help here: How can I promote my website and products. We have 3 amazing products.

  80. Tim Croll says:

    I have one question but first I really am interested in the difference between selling to retailers as a large manufacture and selling to retailers as a small start up.
    I have been working with retailers from a different position – that of a large manufacture and have recently started with a small family company. I have been searching for typical terms from a chain store or retailer specific to startup companies. When I was with the larger manufacture we could afford the 90 day terms and the shipping and deep discounts. As a start up there is no money left if they request these same things. What are the typical requirements from chain stores for financial terms? Is it still the same as listed in under point # 3? Have they changed in the recent years? Had chain store come back on price negotiation asking us to sell product at a 8% loss once it was all said and done.

    • Hey Tim – that’s a great question. It’s been five years since I sold my products, so I haven’t had any dealings with retailers. But, from what I’ve heard, it does still seem to be as you mentioned – that retailers request discounts, special terms, allowances, etc – and that makes it very tough for small start ups. I’ve read a bit about “factoring”, which may help smaller companies manage their cash flow a bit better. This article explains it – http://smallbusiness.aol.com/2011/01/23/factoring-5-things-you-need-to-know/. I hope that helps! :) Heather

      • Tim Croll says:

        It does help. I was wonder what “typically” terms are at this point for retailers? I would gladly agree to terms laid out in you point on this article but most often there is a request for 90 days net or coupon discounts or advertisement dollars. Is there anywhere I can find that has a “typcial” terms of what retailers expect? For 2013?

        • Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to *that* question. :) I would imagine that it varies widely between retailers, and even between vendors working with the same retailer. Sorry.

          • Jeff Eaves says:

            I have sold to Wal-Mart, HomeDepot in US and Canada as well as Meijers, Lowes, RONA, Canadian Tire, and many more in Canada. Typically I assume 8% as an average for rebates when quoting and tell the buyer this is built in unless they want different program. This covers things such as Marketing typically broken down into 1%-2% for different items. Wal-Mart even has a percentage they assume to allow for shipping old product back. On top of potential marketing allowances and rebates there could be Accounts rebates for early pay, new store allowances, etc. I have seen growing trend this last two years where some stores are asking for 60 days now not net 30.
            Hope this helps in your endeavors.
            J

        • Rob says:

          Hi Tim, each retailer have their own terms which unfortunately from a big retailer’s perspective doesn’t make it friendly for any new entrepreneur.

  81. Hawk says:

    Not sure if I arrive to this website too late but what a GREAT piece of content.

    I have a business about faux floral design and recently been in discussion with big retailers. Few questions (nobody asked below yet I hope):
    1. Who is responsible for shipping cost?
    2. If the buyer, do I invoice the shipping cost separately?
    3. What is usually the payment upfront in term of percentage? I wanted to ask for 50% and I am not sure if that’s reasonable and acceptable. The ideal is to give us some cash to start ramping up on production. My rule of thumb is with 50% down, I can give them 45% discount (which is very large, comparing to typical 30-35% discount).

    • Hi Hawk, thanks for stopping by! To answer your questions, 1. Usually the buyer pays the shipping cost. 2. You can just add the shipping cost to the order total rather than invoicing separately for it. 3. Typically, terms are net 30 – meaning, they pay you in full within 30 days of receiving the shipment. However, you might consider offering them a small discount if they pay up front using a credit card. I used to offer free shipping, a small discount off the order total, or a free product with their order if they paid up front with a credit card, and they really seemed to like that. It was a win-win – I didn’t have to chase after them for payment and they received a discount/free product. :) I hope that helps!

      • Vera says:

        Hi Heather,

        I love your site. and we got so much to offer to your readers. We offer A to Z private label manufacturing service. Our marketing package includes b2b and b2c to boutique owners. We got a decent size database of boutique owners. We are lunching a crowdfunding site too to help new uprising designers. Please email me viviona@viviona.com …would love to collaborate with you.

  82. Alyicia says:

    Hi, I am very glad I found your website. I am thinking of selling custom made jewelry to retail stores and I made a note of all the advice you gave.

    I would like to know more about the retailer ordering patters/ behavior. For example, when I have a commitment from the retailer to buy, how much merchandise will the retailer want to buy? How often am I suppose to supply merchandise? Since the merchandise is custom jewelry, I would like to have an idea on quantity I should have available to fulfill the order.

    Thank you for this forum, amazing and valuable advice.

    • Charles says:

      Hi Alycia,

      You should check out NowInStore.com. We built a wholesale fashion marketplace which connects designers with fashion designers looking for emerging new designers. All the best with you new venture!

  83. Charles says:

    Really great post! Navigating the ins-and-outs of wholesale is always complicated and you made it simple and to the point! Thanks for sharing!

  84. prsmama says:

    Thanks for a great looking blog, Heather. I’m looking forward to reading much more of it. I’m interested in your ‘Get Retail Ready’ ebook, but I’m not sure if it’ll really tell me what I need to know. My goals are much smaller….I have a very simple product that I hope to get into a very specialized market and just make my family a small amount of extra money per month. I have no delusions of creating a nationwide product! I know the retailers I need to contact, I’m just trying to learn a little more about the basic ins and outs of retail so I’m not googling while on the phone as you were! lol. Is this the sort of thing your ebook would address?
    Thanks much,
    Another Mama

  85. Andrew says:

    Great information here,

    One very important cost that wasn’t in the article is the cost of EDI. Most large and even mid-sized retailers require their vendors/suppliers to be able to communicate information with their systems, such as receiving invoices, POs, Advanced Shipping Notices all through X12 EDI.

    Mom & pop shops generally don’t understand the technical side EDI and under-cost their products since they have to hire a 3rd party service to become compliant with retailers.

  86. Jenny Spring says:

    Thanks for the info — really helpful.

  87. This article was fantastic for me! So much information and so detailed, this is exactly what I needed to help me get started! Thank you so much!

  88. Hello,

    I came across this website and if anyone has products our company The BeGood Brand is looking for product submissions for our launch. We love handmade items and once of a kind items as well. Visit out website at http://www.TheBeGoodBrand.com to learn more about us and if interested click the Product Submission button at the bottom of the website.

    Love this website and the topic!

    -Elizabeth

  89. Les K says:

    Very good article with many thanks! We are a family business in Mexico City and our facebook has grown exponentially within a few days, and are just starting to put
    our very good salsa into store shelves. I am the marketing person for us so to speak
    and come from a retail background where 500/600 % or more is not unfound, in retail clothes, but retail food is a whole different ballgame.

    Thanks again for the insightful article, with workable percentages.

  90. Vrinda says:

    Thanks for the information – and you have a fantastic site! I wonder if you have any articles dedicated to licensing/franchising dos/don’ts/howtos?
    My company – http://www.tinytechsclub.com offer Robotics enrichment programs to elementary school children and we’re now looking for moms who are interested in educational technology programs to become licensees and teach our classes in their local community..Any ideas on how to locate such moms? :)
    Thanks!

  91. Mammy says:

    Thanks for the insight this was amazing and so informational! By any chance do you know any good sales reps that you can refer me too? I have a shoe brand.

    Thanks!

  92. Jeff says:

    That’s a great starting point. Does anyone have any tips when dealing with independent sales reps? My wife and I started http://slapkins.com and are debating this now.

  93. Georgina G says:

    Hi, what a great blog!
    A friend and I have just started selling these cute little paintings as a new gift idea. We have a website http://www.youvebeenangeled.com and the retail price is $36. We haven’t been making much sales and were thinking of selling the product to retailers. Would we sell the product based on its retail price or lower for a whole sales price? Would the retailers also get a percentage?
    Please help! We are both new to the sales business world!

  94. Gina says:

    Hello,

    Great read! Thank you for this! Does anyone know where I can find sample letters to shop owners introducing yourself and your products? I am lost as to what letter to send. Thanks so much! :)

  95. Chiara says:

    Hello everyone! I am Italian and I create women’s shirts and products for the home. If you want to see my creations this is my website http://reveplus.wix.com/reveplus
    I’d really like to export my products abroad … if you want to contact me this is my contact: chiara.skate@hotmail.it
    Thanks :) Chiara

  96. Angeli Y says:

    Excellent suggestions. We just launched a natural protein powder and am looking at finding retailers to stock our product and your post came up.

    Thanks for the comprehensive list!

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