Finding the right wholesale distributor can help your product business in a big way! They can get your products on the shelves of retailers as well as provide you with many other exciting opportunities.
Therefore, it is essential that you prepare your product for distribution success. If your product isn’t ready to go, then you put your business at risk of not generating the sales that you need in order to win!
With that said, the following are some things to think about prior to getting started with wholesale distributors.
Step 1: Be Ready For Market
Your first step is to ensure that your product is ready for market! The product needs to be fully developed (i.e. no prototypes) prior to contacting distributors.
Additionally, you should know the price point of your product, how to package it, the best way to market it, and how you’re going to supply the product if demand suddenly skyrockets. Distributors are not interested in representing products that are months away from full production.
Bottom line - make sure your product is ready to go before approaching wholesale distributors!
Step 2: Develop a Marketing Plan
Distributors will want to know how you are planning to market your product.
Why? Because at the end of the day, it is still your responsibility to get people buy your product at retailers! The manufacture is always ultimately responsible for creating consumer demand.
Therefore, my suggestion is to use every marketing resource you can to help drive demand and ensure retailers keep placing orders with your distributor.
Bottom line - The more you sell, the better the distribution for your product! So develop that marketing plan!
Step 3: Understanding Your Distributor
Working with distributors means that you are selling directly to them, not the retailer! Most people don’t realize this. Therefore, your true customer is your distributor, and you have to ensure that you prepare your product accordingly!
Find out what matters to them when taking on new products. Distributors might have a totally different approach to shipping, packaging, etc.
Bottom line - Learning what matters to distributors will only help you find a company that will represent you more quickly!
Step 4: Finding Your Target Market
The best way to have a successful partnership with a distributor is to ensure that you chose the one that can help you get to market as quickly as possible. Therefore, you need to ensure that the distributor you choose is selling to your exact target market. Additionally, you want to know that this distributor is successful at selling products to your target market!
One suggestion is to find out who distributes your competitors’ products. And when I say competitors, I mean the ones that are selling a ton of product. Finding the distributor that represents similar and successful products can help get your product to market faster because these distributors have already proven that they know how to win!
Bottom line – Choose a distributor carefully. Find one that already has success selling to your ideal target market!
Step 4: Get References
Your distributor is like a business partner - you need to make sure you can work together and that you’re on the same page. Just because someone says they’re willing to buy your product doesn’t mean they’re the right distributor for you. Do your homework and ensure the right fit between your two companies.
Go to tradeshows and ask retail buyers for references. Who would they recommend, based on your target demographic? Set up your own trade booth and have plenty of material for potential distributors and sales reps. Make sure you get all of their contact information and follow-up afterwards. When later evaluating them, don’t be afraid to ask for references and customer referrals.
Bottom line - If you choose a great distributor, their customers should be happy to share their experiences!