It's one of the best feelings as a brand – getting your products on the shelves of a major retailer – but the work doesn't end there. Here are some of the top tips to keep in mind once you've entered into retail distribution to ensure your brand experiences a successful launch, and stays on the shelf!
Don't Stop – You've Only Just Begun
There are a lot of variables to keep in mind as you enter into retail – questions like how many doors are you launching into, what is the sales volume expectation, what is the margin requirement, how are returns handled?
The relationship between the brand and the retailer is an important one. The retailer has determined that your brand appeals to their customers, or that you have a loyal customer they would like to acquire by bringing you in-store. In many cases, retailers want to be the only place to find specific products and brands. If a retailer is asking for exclusivity, be sure to understand for how long and what type of support you will be getting from them in return. Will you be featured in email blasts or in-store signage? How are they going to help you grow and nurture your brand as part of an exclusive agreement? Some brands will offer a retail partner exclusivity for a few products or new launches, but not for the entire line.
Depending on your brand strategy, it might make sense to start testing retail by launching in smaller or regional stores rather than major chains. If you're not ready to meet the demands of a large retailer, this will help you to gain credibility and customer attention within the market and an understanding of what it takes for a successful partnership.
Slow and Steady
The last thing you want to deal with when you've launched in a retail store is realizing operations can't keep up with demand! Major retailers often cite this as one of the biggest hurdles when working with small or emerging brands. Out of stock issues and or delayed shipments will leave a negative impression on both the retailer and customers. Retailers don't like disappointed customers and empty shelf space - it means there's lost revenue, which negatively impacts their bottom line.
Before you approach a retail store, or once you've landed that coveted shelf space, make sure you can handle the inventory and shipping requirements and can keep up with the demands.
Retail staff sees new products hitting the shelves all the time. How are they going to know about yours? Training and educating the store staff at launch helps to get your brand at the forefront of their minds. Having gratis for the store employees to try is a sure fire way to get them to become your advocates in store when you aren't there.
In today's beauty market customers like to see the brand as a 'person' rather than an unknown entity. Utilizing brand ambassadors helps guide buying decisions by answering questions or doing product demos, sharing info about products, or offering an experience to customers visiting the retail store.
Getting into retail can be overwhelming but exciting. Make sure you have the right team around you who can help you through each step of the process and ensure you're on the right track with sales, revenue and everything else that goes along with the business. Consider working with professionals who understand what works in-store and can help guide you through every stage in the process, minimizing your chances of costly mistakes.
Know What the Market Wants
The best way to stay on shelf is to keep in touch with your customer and understand what they want. It's easy to get distracted with the day-to-day minutia of creating a successful brand, but it's essential to keep thinking of your product funnel. The beauty category thrives on newness and discovery if customers aren't finding the latest must-have ingredient or product in your lineup, they will look elsewhere. Retailers want to know that you have a marketing calendar and plan in place to continue to drive customer interest in your brand.
Don't wait until you've been put on the retailer's naughty list to start thinking about getting assistance for your brand in-store. The sooner you start planning for it, the better chance you have for success. Do you need help in creating a strategy that will help your brand thrive? Connect with Beauty Barrage to get started!