It has been a while since I have written an entry. The company has been keeping me real busy. That is good news. I want to be busy. I want the pressure to be on. That means we are growing. It can be stressful and frustrating at times but that comes with the package.
Right now we are selling product in the USA, Canada, The Caribbean, England, South America, and Australia. To make that happen we have to have distribution partners to receive the product, ship it to the retail locations and get the product set up correctly in a display, clip strip, bin, or on a peg. We handle some of the smaller distribution to Amazon or to Mom and Pop hardware stores around the USA but for the big box retailers and international we need partners. Many aspiring inventors, as I once did, have a foggy idea of what happens after you get a purchase order. In the past I thought it would be a 1, 2, 3, process. Get interest for the item, deliver the item, and get paid for the item. If it were only that simple.
First we have to produce the product correctly and on time. This is a whole other challenge and you can see my experiences with this in my previous blogs. Once you have production quality and capacity to handle large orders now comes the next phase. I am not even going to get into how to meet the buyers and get the orders. That is another topic for a later blog. We are talking about what happens after the order is in and you have delivered the product to the distributor or store set company who is going to get it into the stores.
What I have just learned is that you have to have a clear agreement with your distributor about how the product is going to roll out into the stores. After you have negotiated the price, your job is not done. Most likely you are rolling out a new product that the customer has never seen before and they need to be educated about the new product otherwise they will walk right on by it in the store and that will be the only order you ever receive from that retailer. You need to merchandise it in a way that gets their attention and tells them why it is better within 2-5 seconds. It is highly recommended that you hire an expert to help you with this. We hired a great company who helped us design an award winning display. You are only going to get one shot at this. Now, once you have this excellent packaging, display, product resource videos, or whatever you are using to get your message across, you have to make sure that whoever is setting up your product in the store is going to set it up correctly. Try a few stores out with no education merchandising. Most likely the product will collect dust even though it might be a great product.
Don’t just assume that everyone is going to care about your one new amazing product. Distributors are real busy dealing with the hundreds or thousands of other products they are managing in the same and other locations. They are currently making a lot of money on those tried and tested products. They are now taking a chance by putting your product in the store. Don’t be afraid to go check everything out and report back to them. They are a large operation with a lot of moving parts and have just as much trouble keeping everything in order as you do. Communication is key and so is following up on everything. Check into it. Ask questions and go see what is going on out there. You can’t understand what is going on from your office. Remember that the distributor is getting a piece of the pie for their services and you should hold them accountable for what they are getting paid to do. The retailer is busy getting the customers into the store, and helping them once they are there. They are relying on you to get the product produced, delivered, and set up.
Be patient but don’t sit around expecting everything to just work itself out. You have to be involved and manage the whole process from delivery to sale. Once you are in the store and you figure out what works to get the sales, than repeat, repeat, repeat. Hopefully you will figure it out before the retailer pulls the plug. They will only give you a small window to prove that your product will sell through.
This is a work in progress for me. I am learning this step by step through experience. I was warned that this was going to be a difficult task and those wise words were correct. I love this process though. I am literally bringing a dream to life. A 9-5 would be much easier but that is not what my Heart called me to do. Stay tuned for my next blog. I plan on talking about how to meet the buyers and get the orders.