Start Your Food Business grocery-shopping How to Get your Food Products into Retailers Shelves

How to Get your Food Products into Retailers’ Shelves

There are a number of strategies for creating a successful food business, but the most common and sought-after way is getting your products onto the shelves of retailers. Having a retailer stock your products exposes them to a wide audience and greatly increases the chance of them being discovered and bought. It also gives your brand the kind of credibility needed for it to become a success.

The problem is, even the biggest retailers only have a limited amount of shelf space on offer, so getting acquiring space is very competitive.  What’s more, when you consider the fact that a lot of this space is taken up by large, established companies with popular products and strong brand loyalty, it can be exceptionally difficult for smaller food businesses to break through and get their products into stores. 

However, difficult doesn’t mean impossible by any means and smaller companies frequently succeed in getting their food products into even the largest retailers.  If like them, you want to make your product stand out by getting it on the shelves of your favourite local or international retailers, then you need to know how to catch their eye the first time around. As they say, you get one chance at a first impression, so here are on some tips on nailing yours:

Have an Excellent Product

Because this goes without saying, let’s get this one out of way first. Make sure your products are great and have all the kinks worked out before approaching retailers. Don’t show up telling them what you plan to or that you might test something; show up having experimented and tested beforehand so you have the finished article.

That being said, if you want to get your food products into retailers shelves, this can the most frustrating step in the process for a food business because it can have little to do with the food you produce. How your product tastes is but one small factor in the buyer’s decision-making process, because no retail buyer thinks that a food entrepreneur would offer a product that doesn’t taste good.

Start Your Food Business grocery-shelf How to Get your Food Products into Retailers Shelves

Develop an Effective Pitch

To successfully get your food products into retailers shelves, you need a great sales pitch: a brief but effective way of explaining your products’ virtues to retail buyers.  It must include:

  • Your product details: including the type of product, suggested retail price it’s ingredients, features, and benefits.
  • Your brand’s positioning: including your target customer, the connection you’re seeking to create with your ideal customer, how it relates to others in the market, and your brand’s advantages over your competitors 
  • Market analysis: such as the size of the market, key competitors (both in-store and online), and market trends you seek to tap into
  • Benefits for the Retailer: Show you have done your homework by illustrating how you will support the retailers brand and offer value to customers by being on their shelves. 

Here are some tips on a successful pitch:

  • Be confident and demonstrate a passion for your products. If you’re not able to express confidence in your products, why should they so by stocking it? Put the same passion into your pitch that you’ve put into your products.
  • Show the retailer that you don’t expect them to do all your promotion for you. Build a following – be it via market stalls, an online store, or social media beforehand to demonstrate you have a strong and growing brand that they’d be wise to get behind. 
  • Consumers buy a product for one of two reasons: either to solve a problem or to fulfil a need. Be able to succinctly show how your product does one of these things – or better yet, both!
  • Demonstrate how your brand stands out in a crowded marketplace. Show them why you deserve their coveted shelf space. 
  • Don’t shy away from or ignore competing products: Instead, show how well you know your market by pointing out your advantages over the competition and how your products are unique and superior.
  • Make sure you follow up with the retailer’s buyer. Understand that you are not their priority, so move yourself up their ‘to do list’ by contacting them after the meeting. It also shows that you’re serious and that you want it more than other food businesses they may be dealing with. 
  • Offer to do in-store and give out samples demos in store – This is another way to show your commitment to the retailer and your desire to succeed. 
Start Your Food Business grocery-shopping-2 How to Get your Food Products into Retailers Shelves

Agents and Distributors

If you find the prospect of pitching your products directly to a retailer daunting, the good news is you don’t necessarily have to do it yourself. The alternative is going through an agent or distributor to pitch on your behalf. They can help you get your food products into retailers shelves quickly and effectively. Let’s take a look at each in a little more detail.

What is an agent?

Agents act as your representative and sell products to retailers on your behalf. They don’t actually take ownership of your goods and work on a commission based on the number of your products they are able to sell. They are particularly effective in export markets and can help you break into overseas markets. They usually work on an exclusive basis: being the only party allowed to sell your products in a particular country or territory.

What is a distributor?

A distributor, in contrast to an agent, actually purchases goods from you. This means that instead of a commission, they sell products on at a higher price and make their profit from the margin. They typically do more in the way of promotion and marketing than an agent, undertaking activities such as training, road shows, and demos on your behalf. For this reason, their fees are typically higher than that of an agent. 

For more on the various pros and cons of agents and distributors, how to find one suitable for your business and other useful information, click here

To get your food products into retailers shelves may be tough, but it’s far from impossible; particularly with the right guidance. Be sure to get legal advice before signing any contracts with an agent or distributor, and please contact us with any queries and concerns and we’ll steer you in the right direction.