Getting your product on the shelves and main product displays of big retailers and supermarkets may afford brand vulnerability and your profile, as this most wanted market is usually hard to get into. But in a very crowded and competitive area, not everybody can make it on the supermarket shelves – however some can. Even though it may be hard at first to reach the major supermarket chains, we have listed a few tips and tricks below to help you reach your goal.
- Never hesitate to request advice: we have found it extremely useful and have found that people love giving it. We have tended to go to people “older and wiser”, and each conversation has taught us something. In our early days we were able to talk to one of the founders of Green & Blacks chocolate and they gave us some valuable advice.
- Get folks tasting your products: trade fairs are a wonderful opportunity to network with buyers. It was in a trade event that we met our first client, cafe chain EAT, who asked us to make pies for their own chain. It is important to get your samples place on and get yourself out there, meeting the important decision-makers, and to network with business professionals in your field.
- Do anything it takes to find face-time with the buyers: I can not stress enough the importance of fulfilling a purchaser in person. This is not always simple but will make a real difference to your odds of success. You will have to be creative, resourceful and persistent — but it is worth it.
- What is in it for them? Have a picture in mind of the end customer who will be purchasing your product, and ask yourself how will they add value for the merchant. The buyer will want to know that you are bringing new clients in and raising the standard of their offer, as opposed to replicating what they are doing — or even worse, taking business from among their current products.
- Presenting an idea is not good enough: do not underestimate the ability of showing a merchant a finished product, with complete branding and packaging down to the tiniest details. This will immediately convey the touch and feel of what you are selling, and make it easier for the buyer to say “yes” on the spot.
- Research the technical details: large retailers are strict in their focus on health, distribution and manufacturing criteria, so you’ll have to be strict also. Decide early on whether you want to keep production in-house, and how you are planning to distribute. You’ll have to fall in with their processes, as opposed to the other way around.
- Stick to your values and your vision: even if producing on a massive scale (we have 190,000 products coming from our commercial kitchen each week), we stand by our handmade fundamentals, using ingredients as you’d use at home, baking in smallish batches and holding tastings throughout the day to guarantee quality control.
Making the move from a small home business, to grocery wire work displays can be rough, but no matter your retail trip, provided you have passion and belief in your product, it may just work for you. The best days in the workplace are those when I have that clear vision of who we are, and where we are going in the forefront of my thoughts. Remember to try your hardest, and do not give up when in this competitive field! Always remember your end goal, and do not forget that this journey is all for your amazing product.