HOW TO EXECUTE
TO PLAN PROPERLY

How can an online brand get widely assorted in retail stores?

PREPARE FOR EVERYTHING

Once you’ve selected the right partners, you can set up meetings with potential retail buyers. These meetings will require significant preparation as you may only get one opportunity. Understanding the gaps in their product assortment and articulating how and why your products and brand fills that need will separate you from the endless line of brands that would love to be widely assorted.

"Your product samples must be on point, your brand story must be complete, and your value proposition must be overwhelmingly convincing."

If any of these things are lacking, your brand is not ready for retail. Don’t rush to schedule a meeting, as a poorly executed one will make it twice as hard to get another when you actually are ready.

Once you’ve had a successful meeting with the buyers, there will be significant back and forth discussions around things like pricing, dotcom or in-store initial placement, initial quantities, forecast sales, promotional planning, how to deal with Amazon/retail channel conflict, price matching and more. However, thanks to your preparation, you will have already aligned internally; you’ll have answers, a strong strategy and be prepared to execute on it.

male shopper in high tech store browsing laptop section

PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF

Now the setup process begins. Everything grinds to a halt. Retailers will request company information, and these vendor setups may require you to submit and resubmit forms, but a little hustle pays off, stay with it, you’re almost to the finish line. You’ll be asked for years of financial records, insurance forms, banking information, tax records, and more. The toughest part is finding the right people internally to provide correct information, and without transparency and top-down alignment, your brand can stall. There may be hesitancy on full financial transparency, but this is where the trust and cooperation you’ve built in the weeks and months prior pays itself back in spades.

THE WAITING GAME

You’ve gathered all the information, submitted and resubmitted, and now comes the wait. Retailers request all this data but they need to vet it with their internal teams, and that takes time . Be prepared to reach out, nudge, and have your rep or distribution partners reach out send reminders. Persistence is the key to getting the stamp of approval in many cases.

Regardless of which path you choose, you need a team or team member assigned to providing setup information to retailers. This information will be pulled from your brands available assets or from e-commerce platforms your brand is already utilizing. Selecting the right person for this task is the difference between being a brand consumers trust or one they pass on when making a purchase. The setup content is tedious, but the quality and accuracy is hyper-critical. Get it wrong, and unnoticed errors may be the deciding factor between adding your items to the cart or your competitors. Setup information can only be uploaded once and will require the retailer to make edits, and the retailer may even charge to make future edits. Getting this information complete and accurate is an often overlooked piece of the larger picture.

While your team is waiting, it’s a good time to examine your brand’s supply chain capabilities and prepare for an audit. Once approved, your factories will undergo a strict audit by the majority of large retailers, where they’ll check on things like how green the facility is and the conditions of the factory. If you're partnering with manufacturers or factories that don’t meet the standards of an audit, it's better to find out early and replace those vendors before approaching retailers.

Working with your own factory, materials suppliers, manufacturing partners and packaging partners, you’ll need to understand product forecasting and delivery schedules. You should also learn and understand customs requirements and tariff impacts on your profitability. Building an excess plan for unsold items is also a good idea, because the chicken does come before the egg in most cases.

Most products will take anywhere between 30 and 45+ days to go from the factory line to the retail floor.

However, when a retailer places a purchase order, they fully expect that product to be in their distribution hubs or on their sales floors in 14 days. As a company and as a brand, at least initially you’re going to have to place some bets and forecast properly or a) you won’t be able to fulfill the order you worked so hard to get, or b) you might end up with thousands of units that no retailer ordered.

CONGRATS! You've MADE IT

Getting your brand to retail and maintaining your place is a long-term process and is not for the impatient or for the short-sighted. We learned many of these lessons the hard way, and want to make your experience as painless as possible. Our business is helping brands through the pitfalls, and managing the monotonous grind it takes to get products into retail. We’ve done it before and we’d love to help you get there as well.