Pitching to retailers

Pitching to retailers can seem daunting but like most things in life, with advance knowledge and proper planning, the task becomes not only easier but also more likely to succeed.

Start by identifying which retailer you feel is best suited to stocking your product. Visit a number of their stores and look at the fixture that’s relevant to you.

If possible, sneak a couple of photographs, paying attention to how much shelf space they’ve dedicated to your competitors: the brands, their colours, packaging formats, product volumes and prices.

Armed with this information, think about which of these products yours could replace and why a buyer would stock you.

Don’t forget, retailers do not have elastic shelves so for every new product they list, they will take one out.

How can you become as attractive as possible? What colours and designs should you explore that will give you best impact from three feet away amongst all the competing products?

And most crucial of all, which consumer group are you targeting and why should they buy your product instead of their regular purchase?

  • Check whether your product will attract VAT or is VAT exempt. This can make a big difference to your margin.
  • How will stocking your product in place of others impact on the retailers sales?
  • Is your product appropriately priced?
  • Is your offer within the good, better or best price tiering?
  • Are people likely to buy your product more often than others?
  • Are you going for high turnover, low margin, or higher margin, lower turnover relative to other category products?
  • Is your product higher priced and therefore providing a higher margin to the stockist?
  • Do you know your costs inside out? Have you included logistics, distribution and of course your margin and retailer margin?
  • As a quick rule of thumb, halve your proposed retail price to arrive at your selling price to the retailer.
  • Will you attract new customers to the store?
  • Is there potential to make your targeted retailer a destination store because of your product?
  • How are you going to support your launch?
  • What marketing activity will you undertake?
  • What price promotion activity are you proposing?
  • How does your proposed marketing activity compare to current sector products?

With this information in place, put together a compelling and brief presentation – PowerPoint is much better than Word for this.

Use good quality images and include snippets of your brand strategy and background research.

Ideally limit your presentation to no more than ten slides and a maximum of 3.5 minutes reading time.

Then prepare your pitch to the retailer – for email and telephone initially. Be compelling, use positive wording only, put yourself in the buyers shoes. (In this initial email it is also worth asking when the review period is for your product category as typically they only take place once a year and therefore it could be a number of months before they will be ready to consider stock line changes.)

How are you going to make their job easier and make their boss sing their praises by increasing their category revenue?

And don’t be put off if they don’t reply to your first email, they get inundated and you will need to be persistent.

Keep your emails polite and to the point and don’t change them every time you resend but what I do advise is changing the subject line referencing re-sends: Resend from xx/xx.

In this way you remind the buyer that you’ve emailed before and it makes them aware of when you first contacted them.

I mentor many clients to help them refine their pitch and to give them the confidence they need.

And I frequently provide hands-on help with preparing pitches as well as attending them.

For more information about how I help my clients launch new products take a look at Food Brand Strategist.

And take a look at BoomBod as an example of my work. If you’d like to explore how I can help you pitch to retailers, ping me an email so we can schedule a call.

Call: +44 (0) 207 205 2998 or email today for an initial chat.

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