Small Business

A Simple Guide to Become a Retail Vendor

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Breaking into the world of retail can be a challenging experience. Planning ahead and building your network will be important factors in driving your success.

Have a great product but nowhere to sell it? You’ve likely already considered finding a retailer to stock, display, and sell your wares, but many small vendors are intimidated by the apparent difficulty in getting a product onto store shelves.
You might be surprised, but becoming a retail vendor and getting your product on the retail floor is actually relatively straightforward.

Here’s a simple guide to achieving your goals:

Make you sure You're Ready to Become a Retail Vendor

Your first step should always be about readiness. A small vendor needs to make certain that they’ll be able to manage the responsibility of working with a retailer. The retailer-vendor relationship is the key to success; if you don’t come through, a retailer will quickly cut ties and move on to someone else.

Production capacity, quality control, distribution logistics… these are all aspects of the business that you must carefully consider and plan for before letting a retailer know you’re ready for their order. If you cannot get the product on the shelves, or faulty product is returned, you could irreparably damage a once in a lifetime relationship. The Walmart’s of the world don’t need you as much as you need them.

One of the most common challenges that can cripple and sink a burgeoning company is financial difficulties. If you don’t have enough money to produce your product or even keep the lights on, you’re in trouble.

Avoid financial worries by planning for cash reserves or having a supply chain financing or invoice financing partner that can help you bridge any cash flow gaps you might experience between the time you fill an order and getting paid.

Connect with Purchasing Managers

Your relationships can either elevate your product to mass adoption, or add you to the long list of failed products. If you want to be the next iPod and avoid the fate of the Zune, you’d best start schmoozing with those who are most influential.

The purchasing managers of retailers are the ones to woo, and LinkedIn is one of the easiest and most effective ways to do so.

For every retailer that you want to form a relationship with, search LinkedIn and connect with its respective product managers. Prepare a short pitch that will impress them while keeping you and your products on their radar. Even if you’re not ready to make a sale yet, it will be much easier to approach the right people if they already have an idea of who you are.

Learn to use the Vendor Portal

To make sure that you don’t falter when it comes time to fulfill those orders, make sure you are familiar with the retailer’s vendor portal. Find out more information on supplier portal.

Take Advantage of open Vendor days

Another element for retail vendors to capitalize on are open vendor days. Many retailers hold these events to connect with new vendors, share information, and develop personal relationships. Take the time to prepare small presentations and product demos to show the retailer why they need to take you seriously and how well prepared you are to take their business.

Before heading to the event, always prepare. Most major retailers provide an outline of requirements for vendors on their websites. For example, check out Home Depot’s guide.

If you are a new vendor, creating the relationships with retailers will be one of your greatest challenges. Keep this is at the forefront of your strategy, but also be aware of where small vendors typically fail. Keep your company growing by seeking new retailer relationships, while soundly managing your finances to ensure your retailer vendor relationship is healthy, as well as lucrative.

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