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  • Vanessa T.

The 3 Key Ingredients of a Persuasive Retail Pitch

Pitching your product line to a retailer? There are so many areas to cover. Do you know which three facts matter most to the decision-makers?

The greatest challenge product companies face is convincing retail buyers your brand will sell. If you want shelf placement in Target, Walmart, CVS, Whole Foods, Ulta, or ANY retailer for that matter, your retail pitch (or as I call it, the Retail Story) needs to address retailers’ key needs. And their primary need revolves around mitigating their sales risk.

The following are the 3 most effective ways of showing to retailers how you will mitigate their sales risk.

#1: Demonstrate Sales Potential

The best way of showing how you will mitigate sales risk is by showing them your product sells already. Ideally, you would show sales traction from stores most similar to the store you are pitching to. For example, if you are pitching to CVS, you will likely want to show them sales history from Walgreens, Rite Aid or another smaller drug store chain like Bartell Drugs. Sales history is always a good indicator of future sales potential.

If you have DTC sales, that helps too, but sales data from comparable brick and mortar retailers will be more indicative of your success in their store. Just note that you want to figure out how to differentiate between channels (i.e, between your online distribution & brick and mortar channels) once your business has scaled up to national or big box retailers to avoid channel cannibalization.

The best sales metric to show retailers is Sales Per Store Per Week (SPSPW) in either unit volume or dollar sales. How do you calculate this? Simply take your unit or dollar sales in retail (from POS data, not shipment sales), then divide it by the number of stores your product is sold in and then divide it again by the number of weeks of sales.

#2: Build Brand Awareness To Drive Store Traffic And Convert Sales at Shelf

The momentum of your brand is important, especially for large retailers. Brand awareness does not build overnight, not even with the largest of marketing budgets from the CPG bubble days of 2017-2022. Awareness takes time. So often times a new brand will not have the sufficient brand awareness levels to support sales at shelf. This is why new brands are deemed highly risky.

A good marketing plan for retailers is one that is comprehensive and multi-prong. It should incorporate both digital marketing and offline marketing. It should include in-store marketing and out-of-store marketing. More on this in another post.

A marketing plan that satisfies retailers is one with a consistent cadence of marketing activities across multiple consumer touch points. And it must align with the same shopper segment that retailer is targeting.

#3: Maximize Sales and Minimize Costs Through Flawless Vendor Execution

A huge risk for retail buyers is working with brands that have minimal experience shipping to retailers. No matter how strong your brand’s sales performance or how amazing your marketing plan, if your product does not arrive in stores on the correct day, that’s a lost day of revenue for the retailer.

Conversely, if inventory arrives early, you have just incurred extra inventory costs for the retailer. Precision is key in vendor execution and it takes a village to pull off execution flawlessly. Supply chain management and inventory management are complex disciplines. Even the most established vendors like Proctor & Gamble will make mistakes from time to time. For brands with less experience fulfilling orders to large retailers, it can become overwhelming and costly to make mistakes.

For a brand that has not yet scaled up to the national level, you’ll find yourself stumbling through the learning curve and building new infrastructure without the luxury of having tested it. Your best bet for mitigating this risk is by building the right external team and presenting this to the buyers. Show that your team includes:

  • Co-packers, contract manufacturers, or factories that regularly produce for the retailers you are pursuing.

  • Supply chain experts who can manage raw materials sourcing and inventory flow.

  • A great warehouse and logistics provider to make sure orders are fulfilled accurately (to retailers' requirements) and on time.

  • Manufacturer reps and brokers dedicated to that retailer to help you foresee the common hiccups and provide account management services.

Nail these three elements in your pitch to retailers and you improve your chances of getting placed in retail stores.

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