From the February/March issue of Working Mother magazine in the Entrepreneur Mom column:
Ask a Pro–Managing the Marketing
How do you get top-tier distribution for your products? Here’s advice from Heather Allard, president of The Mogul Mom, an online coaching and consulting business for entrepreneur moms.
The actual article from Working Mother Magazine
Know the retailers
Compile a list of stores you’d like to approach and visit their websites to learn all you can about them:What’s the retailer’s niche? What’s its specialty—customer service or huge selection? Use their sites to learn about their retail guidelines.
Study the competition
Read reviews of competing products. Is there room for improvement or creativity? Maybe the one thing the other product lacks is the one thing yours has. Figure out what single thing (it may be price, selection or durability) differentiates your product from the rest and capitalize on it.
Know your “retail details.”
These include minimums, wholesale price, suggested retail price, shipping costs, packaging specifications, payment terms and returns to vendor. Generally, your wholesale price will be double your cost, and retail will be double wholesale. Payment terms are typically 30 days by check. You may want to offer retailers a discount if they pay by credit card—this prevents your accounting department from having to hunt down retailers whose payments are past due.
Showcase your goods.
Tell retailers what promotional items you’ll provide with opening orders, like display stands, sign age or gift with purchase. Shop owners will want to know what type of packaging your product comes in because they often have limited space—is it a bag with hanging hook or something they’ll have to put on a shelf? the less work they have to do to merchandise, the better. Be ready to provide product samples so retailers can know and test the product before selling.
Hire an independent sales rep.
This is crucial if you hope to place your product in major retail chains, which usually have very specific guidelines, price requirements and shipping manuals. Find a sales rep by searching the websites of competitive wholesalers or through word of mouth.