How to Distribute Food Products with Ruthless Efficiency
Food is among the fastest perishable products and the best way to ensure minimum wastage while sending it to c-stores is to have an efficient supply chain. It helps deliver food within the shortest possible time to consumers. To get your food products out on the shelves of stores is not the end of distribution, you also need to create a marketing support to compete against existing products in the market. Whether you are distributing food products to restaurants, convenience stores or sending out cooked meals to offices and homes you have to first understand the needs of your customers and the distribution structure that will be used to send these products to the consumer. Distribution channels differ based on the end customers and type of food product that is being sold making it difficult for firms to apply same strategy for everyone.
To distribute food products in a profitable manner manufacturers and food distributors have to work aggressively and in coordination with each other. It ensures that the product reaches the end customer in minimum possible time and in edible condition. Every distribution channel has several challenges with regard to breaking the bulk and distributing it into small packages which can be picked up by convenience stores, grocery chains, food dealers or restaurants. To distribute food with least possible addition to overall price marketers have to keep middlemen to a minimum and standardize packaging to reduce wastage.
Effective distribution methods for food products
Direct distribution channel – Within this system the product is directly delivered to the consumer and only one channel is applicable. The distribution channel is applied when a consumer’s requirement is unique or has specific technical requirements so product is directly delivered to them. Sometimes a few local customers’ demand is so large that manufacturer’s production capacity is exhausted in meeting it and there is no need to use extensive distribution channels.
Consumer markets – These are one stop shops for producer/manufacturer of food product to sell their produce to several convenience stores and grocery store chains or food distributors directly. In these markets most intermediaries are representatives of retailers and manufacturer can negotiate directly with buyers to sell their product without using intermediaries and other distribution channels.
Producer to wholesaler and end user through one step channel – In this distribution channel the wholesaler takes ownership of goods that are made by manufacturer and is solely responsible for distributing it to right channels. The wholesaler has to work with hotels, restaurants and other large institutions like offices, hospitals and schools to distribute directly to them. You can find wholesalers here www.wholesalegrocersdirectory.com.
Agent/Broker to industrial user
These people work as representatives of one or more manufacturers and do not take direct ownership of products, but manage to set up relationship between them and retailers and carry out marketing services. The agent here becomes the sole sales force for producer/manufacturer and helps them expand their clientele to unrepresented markets. Market coverage is managed for intensive distribution and extensive distribution. You can find a list of brokers here www.cstoredistributors.com.
Warehouse distributors – These distributors directly move products from manufacturers to super stores and large c stores along with specialty and natural stores. They have large storehouses to store large variety of food products and groceries ranging from dry to frozen and other sundries. They largely deliver to store directly and only drop the produce and do not undertake any merchandising.
Food service distributors – They specialize in serving food products to direct consumers like restaurants, Delis, schools, hospitals, and other institutions. They undertake deliveries only on confirmed orders to the end consumers at a predetermined price. These distributors ensure that product is delivered to consumers in the exact condition and quantity they required.
Selecting an ideal distribution channel for your food products – Before your select a distribution channel for your products it is ideal to develop a list of potential customers for your products. This will help you design the shortest possible distribution channel depending on the perishable quality of your products. In the procedure of planning out the distribution network of your food products you need to understand the needs of your customer and their tastes so you can present it in the best way possible.
Distribution through food cooperatives – To remove the middleman and get direct access to food buyers of convenience store chains, grocery store chains and food brokers, manufacturers of farm produce and dairy products set up co-operatives to directly work as a combined unit. These cooperative societies will bring together farmers who will collate their produce and use single distributor to sell it to all stores in their locality. By taking on this procedure farmers can eliminate distributors and sell their produce directly to stores and slowly increase their outlay to neighboring locations depending on demand.
Flexible distribution models for food – Distributors of food products have to be flexible enough to understand changing needs of people so that they can pass the information to producers and meet the market requirements. If the distributor is working with multiple customers their product categories and product lines can be small or large depending on the number of manufacturers or wholesalers they are working with at a particular point of time. Growth of specialty food stores and fast food outlets has increased which have almost become synonymous with convenience stores. These fast food chains and small cafés have helped increase demand for ready to eat food items and have created a new niche of nutritious quick serve meals which can be picked up from stores and eaten on the move.
Food products have been distributed for several centuries now and with growth in technology and communication it is easy to understand market demand and build successful distribution strategy. The key now for food distributors to sustain themselves throughout the year is to offer products like dairy, meat along with both perishable and non-perishable items which are available throughout the year. It will help distributors and manufacturers to stay in touch with retailers at all time and build a strong and lasting customer vendor relationship.
How Convenience Store Owners Need to Change to Remain Competitive in Future
Convenience stores that have been in business for the last few decades will agree that to stay ahead in this business and remain competitive they have had to change marketing and business strategies every few months or years. With growing demand for fresh food outlets and in dwindling sales of cigarettes, convenience store chains are looking at improving their food storage equipment and facilities.
To meet the demand of food service offerings stores are depending on local suppliers to have fresh produce and reduce transportation related damage. Multiple services are offered by convenience store chains today like ATM, fast food outlet and book store too besides the old gas station cum convenience product outlet as people in remote areas use these locations to meet and spend quality time together.
Services evolution – To retain customers for a long duration c-store chains have evolved into multipurpose retail outlets which provide almost every product that would be required by an individual or family driving by on a tour or just driving home. Offering these services is not easy for stores as now they have to maintain cold storage equipment for food and identify demand before they occur to make the most of it.
Multi-channel evolution – This refers to varied techniques available to c store chains and grocery store chains to improve customer demand and sales. Every small and large store now has presence across multiple sales channels like brick and mortar stores, website, mobile applications and also multi-product catalogs. This helps in connecting with customers seamlessly and helping them to engage in interact with stores of their choice and use varied channels to buy a product of their choice if it is not available on one channel. But just making all these channels available to customers is not enough to remain competitive. A retailer should also know how to fuse their utilities together to expand business.
Innovation in payment facilities – With expansion in business opportunities and implementation of technology in every sphere of life the payment industry has also undergone a sea of change. The earliest alternative for cash payment was card payments followed by food coupons and customer points which are now being replaced by mobile wallet. Though some grocery store chains still swear by traditional methods of cash and card payments it will only take them a few more years to adopt this technology. With growing dependence of people on smartphones and increasing use of mobile solutions to carry out their daily tasks even banks are being forced to transact business through mobile applications.
In store innovation – For driving in the right kind of traffic c-store chains are increasingly using data mining and customized promotional plans. From setting up quicker checkout counters to designing store layout and managing inventory, grocery store chains are depending on information technology to stay up to date. This use of sophisticated software and networking inventory distribution across stores increases efficiency and ensures security from shoplifting by employees and customers. Though technology brings ease of functionality it also brings dangers of data breach by determined cyber criminals who steal confidential information of customers to make fraudulent transactions. C-store upgrading to a more tech savvy work and service structure have to now invest in appropriate technology which will protect customer data and help them provide customized service.
Adopting new concepts in retail industry – Convenience store business is constantly changing and adapting itself to retail landscape to stay in business. While some are increasing their products on display others are specializing on few goods to remain profitable. The ones who have remained in business for the past few decades have been able to recognize that customers do not love convenience stores, they are in love with the convenience of shopping for all their requirements in one place. Though there is a marked shift towards online retail and people are increasing buying goods online it still remains limited to electronic and branded items. As shopping malls of the future convenience store can be brand ambassadors for national and international firms and can become partners in profit.
They will now support a larger number of services based on communication networks to make checkouts an easy affair for their customers. With online virtual stores customers can order their requirements online or through mobile applications on their way to the store and can find their baskets packed and ready for payment when they come to the store. Food service is the fastest growing business category which all large format convenience stores are adopting to stay in business and attract millennium generation. Other offerings could be Wi-Fi for customers and travelers along with digital signage with in-store promotions at vital points around town to optimize sales. Automated inventory management is another field where store owners with multipoint retail stores are adopting to check stocks quickly and shift inventory across stores on need basis to avoid wastage.
Convenience stores as community centers – With large number of convenience tying up with fast food chains and farmer markets to offer fresh foods items to their customers it would not be long before these places become like neighborhood coffee stores wherein locals can hangout out during evenings. To cater to this growing tendency of families to relax on roadside convenience store outlets has encouraged many to have a food court within the store with easy to carry food items like sandwiches, ice-creams, milkshakes, burgers which they can either be eaten at a cozy corner or be taken along. They will thus become a unique part of local communities but also a part of global brands which people from varied locations can expect to be stocked at these outlets.
To remain competitive convenience stores now have to set their priorities and marketing strategies in place as knowledge and technology is changing customer tastes at a rapid pace. They have to understand market conditions before adopting a marketing strategy to increase business as customers are today’s tech savvy customers are evaluating every purchase for utility before making an investment. News of new large format grocery chains taking over small chains are common and we see how new ideas and business culture is helping them expand business in new locations.
Some Things To Keep In Mind When Contacting The Businesses On Your Convenience Store Chains List
Your business has taken the first step towards growing your business by ordering a convenience store chains list. When it came, you immediately started planning the letters, calls and e-mails you are going to make to attract new business. This is a great time to slow down and determine a game plan. You know that not every convenience store on the list is a good fit for your product, and those stores should be at the bottom of your list to contact. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing which convenience stores chains to call on first.
Unless you have created something completely unique that no one has every thought of, your product already has a niche. Now, there are things that set your products apart from the crowd. Maybe you are selling potato chips in never heard of flavors or coloring books featuring the national parks in America. You will want to spend a little time identifying the convenience stores that offer a small amount of items in your niche to market to first.
You know not all convenience stores cater to the same clientele. Anytime you go to buy gas, there are several stores all within the same price point with a couple that are offering higher quality gas for a higher price. If the product you are selling is high-end gourmet potato chips, then you want the convenience stores with the higher priced gas to top your list.
In some cases, your product might have a short shelf life. Perhaps, you are selling gourmet cupcakes that are only fresh for a week. If you live in Georgia, you need to start your marketing campaign in places where shipping will only take a day or two at most. You do not want to start marketing in Seattle, Washington where shipping will take the better part of the week. Also, by marketing to your local area, you can push the idea that you are Southerners or Midwesterners and build sales off of a common trait.
It is up to you to make the most of your list and choose to contact the people most likely to purchase your products. With these things in mind, you can make the most of your time and marketing budget. At C. Store Distributor, we are dedicated to helping businesses just like yours find new streams of revenue and customers. If you have more questions about this or other topics, please contact us.
Best Channels to Distribute Food Products to Convenience Stores
How many of us bother to consider how a particular food product came to the shelf of convenience store every time we go to buy our usual grocery items? Some of us do not even know where the regular brands of food or beverage products we consume are grown or processed before they reach our tables. It is the efficiency of a food distribution channel which brings fresh products from farms and processing centers to your nearest convenience stores and grocery stores. With the availability of specialized marketing channels and growth of wholesale distributors it is rare for a producer or manufacturer to directly sell to customers.
Distribution of food products requires special care as the can get spoilt or become unfit for consumption if prescribed safeguards related to their storage and delivery are not followed. Food products are not like cosmetics, clothes, electronics or fancy accessories which can be kept for years in the store without worry about quality degradation. As different food products require varied storage and distribution measures, wholesaler distributors of food products generally follow a specific path of distribution and delivery for them so that they reach customers before expiry. As a manufacturer of dry rations or ready to cook food products you have to establish a partnership with the right dealer or distributor who understands your business and the vital need for quick delivery to right customers.
By the time a food products travels from manufacturer to retailer and customer’s table it passes through hands of several people who would access its price, quality and packaging to gauge its marketing potential. Several products never make it to convenience store or grocery store shelves and remain limited to local farmers markets or traders market as the manufacturers are unable to find a profitable way of distributing them. The perishable nature of food products and the care that needs to be taken to preserve, package and distribute them makes it a specialist’s task.
Distribution cycle of retail food products and beverages from manufacturer to retailers
Market testing – Once a product is ready and all necessary permits have been obtained for marketing, manufacturers test the product by giving it out as a sample in local farmer’s market or trade fairs to see reaction of people toward it, or hiring a firm like the “Checkstand Program” who can immediately push your product into convenience stores www.checkstandprogram.com. It also helps them get in touch with local single store retailers and traders who are ready to try new products. Depending on the reaction of people and friendly advice of these traders you can make changes wherever required and start promotional activities.
Hiring a broker or distributor – Most food manufacturers lack marketing skills and are dependent on specialists like agents and brokers to get in touch with convenience store chains or standalone grocery stores. To have a national level distribution, manufacturers need to work with wholesale distributors and convenience store distributors who have the right skills and contacts to get their products into stores.
Securing a foothold with retailers - During these times, having an informative convenience store directory is handy as it gives contact details of top decision makers of small and large c-store chains and distributors. The distributor can take you to retailers but you as a manufacturer have to convince them about the utility of your product and how the retailer can make profits by selling it. Present a research based report about other manufacturers in this category and tell the retailer how your product compares to them.
Type of food distributors based on products and work style
- Gourmet or specialty food distributors – They generally distribute dry groceries, condiments and spices to natural supermarkets, specialty gourmet stores, c-stores and also general grocers. Here is good resource www.wholesalegrocersdirectory.com.
- Food brokers – They work like brokers in any other area of product distribution and deal with several manufacturers at the same time. Their main function is to create links between retailers and manufacturers so that distribution channels can be discussed and finalized. The charge a fee from both parties and generally with one or two kinds of food products. You can find a ton of them at www.cstoredistributors.com.
- Rack jobbers – They distribute both fresh food and dry food items in large volumes. They perform full in-store merchandising and sales within particular geographical area.
- Wholesalers – They supply general merchandise, groceries and food products to convenience stores. They distribute food products across a large geographical area which has to be stored in dry, liquid, frozen or refrigerated condition. You can find over 1200 of them at www.cstoredistributors.com.
- Food service distributors – These convenience store distributors are specialists in delivery and distribution of food products and also manufacture a few ready to eat products themselves. Besides distributing to c-stores and grocery shops they also distribute food items to restaurants, hotels, fast food outlets, schools and hospitals. You can find over 2500 of them at www.wholesalegrocersdirectory.com
- Soft drinks and beverage distributors – These products need to be spread across a wide geographical area to be profitable as consumers are rarely loyal to one brand and will go for the next competitor if their choice is not available in the convenience store they walk into. Manufacturers for soft drinks and beverages in general, use parallel distribution avenues to market their products across the nation and make it reachable to customers at a competitive price.
- Private distribution channels – Large retailers have their own distribution centers, which act as warehouse centers for manufacturers who deliver directly to these distribution centers. The distribution networks of these retailers then distribute the products to their convenience stores depending on requirement. This distribution technique is very profitable for both manufacturer and retailer as they have eliminated the distributor and have pocketed the profits.
Always target your product towards customers tastes as all your efforts to bring it to buyers will be a fruitless exercise if it is not a hit. Food production and marketing is as difficult as distribution and pricing can sometimes spell success or doom for a good food product even after crossing all these milestones. Experts sometimes advise food product manufacturers to stick to local markets to keep their margins low and establish reputation among retailers and consumers. Once retailers recognize the potential of a good product they will come forward to negotiate price of distribution to other branch stores in the area.
Distribution of Beverages to C-Stores: What You should Know
As a manufacturer or distributor of beverages you know that these products have a limited shelf life and packaging as well as storing them go a long way in ensuring that contents stay fresh. A view at the burgeoning market of beverages encourages manufacturers to try out new combinations on a regular basis and market them to buyers by extolling the virtues of their products. Presently there are 152,000 convenience stores across United States which has access to customers across the nation and majority among them are single store operators. Manufacturers have to look for right convenience store distribution channels to ensure that their beverage is aptly presented before consumers on a daily basis.
Beverages are always on demand in convenience stores, grocery outlets and food outlets making them one of the fastest selling items in every food outlet. A large majority of new and existing beverages are sold from convenience stores as they can be purchased in large and single serve packs at a more competitive price. The size and reach of convenience stores brings products before more than 1000 customers on a daily basis in a single location. As the size of food outlets and c-store offerings continue to attract new customers a manufacturer of beverages can also expect growing markets for his products.
Choices of distributors for beverages
To make your beverage a hot seller and create the right kind of excitement in the market so consumers buy your products on a regular basis, you need to get your products in right convenience stores to compete with others in the market. Besides using merchandising strategies within the stores, you also need to use sales promotion discounts during the launch at c-stores and grocers.
Selling to c-store – Reaching out to convenience stores is the best way to sell your beverage product and establish a steady redistribution cycle. You can use a c-store directory to get mailing addresses of their marketing division heads and send details about your beverage. This way you can directly approach both the standalone c-stores and grocery shops along with c-store chains to present your product and get purchase orders.
A common platform to meet these c-store buyers and wholesale distributors is to attend local and national level tradeshows to showcase your beverage and highlight its qualities. This approach can get you several interested customers within a single day if the presentation is done in an excitable manner. Advertising in c-store directory and trade magazines is also an effective way to sell your product to c-store distribution agencies and buyers.
1) Selling your beverage through distributors and wholesalers – To compete against existing beverages in the market you need to get a distributor who has vast experience in distribution of varied types of beverages across city and state boundaries. They know the right c-store chains with large clientele in each neighborhood across the state which can make your product an instant hit. If you cannot hire sales reps to demonstrate your product’s qualities to customers in stores then you can partner with beverage distributors who can present your merchandise in the right manner in partnership with c-store clients. Checkstand Program is an ideal marketing platform to bring your beverage within easy reach of customers and c-store chains. The marketing program also works with rack jobbers and merchandising distributors which work with both small and large stores in remote locations who can help you design the presentations to make them more effective.
2) Selling your beverage through local retailers – Design your display and testing counter at your local retailer and work out the details of promotion materials in partnership with him. Give them advertising support by promoting your beverage in both national and local media. Work an attractive profit sharing agreement with all your single store retailers which will work as an incentive for them to promote your product. Remember that only distributing your product to convenience stores and grocers does not end your responsibility of selling them.
If you are planning to work directly with retailers instead of wholesalers then it is advisable to market your beverage to large retailer chains and warehouse clubs to bring it within reach of customers on national level.
What you need to know about beverage distribution
To grow in a slow and steady manner from local to regional and then on national platform, you need to compete continuously with existing leaders in the beverage market and also on new wannabes in the market which appear every summer. Finding the right wholesaler or distributor is not enough for to establish your foothold in this competitive market. Display, supply and merchandising in the right manner go a long way in protecting your market and customer base.
More than half of new beverages products introduced in the market fade away due to lack of in-store marketing strategy.
Aggressive sales team can work towards ensuring that your beverage is in the right place among other beverages within the cooler and is easily reachable to buyers. To optimize sales in a convenience store you have to concentrate on merchandising and positioning besides packaging and distribution. Through the c-store directory and c-store distributors directory you can get information about special distributors,wholesalers and convenience store chains that carry beverages and and then follow up with meetings and presentation, samples and detailed product information.
Every sales adviser will tell you to start selling from regional level and establish a steady clientele before expanding into other regions in the state. This technique will keep your distribution costs low and c store distribution networks will take your product to other branches if it is worthy. Once you know your market, the next step is to identify the right distributor or wholesaler who can help launch your product into state and national platform through their distribution networks. Trader associations, trade shows and marketing cum distribution specialists like Checkstand Program with large sales volumes and close contacts with stores across the nation will help guide your beverage’s sales path so it grows at a steady pace to become a national leader.
The Importance of Timely Product Updates for Your C-Store Distribution
Convenience stores for long have been the lifeline of city neighborhoods and far flung communities in providing them essentials of all kinds. Customers have shopped from their favorite convenience stores for years and have tolerated problems like long queues at checkout and crowded parking lots with good humor. These stores have also played a major role in helping communities with local issues and charities and over the decades have become an integral part of society.
In recent years convenience store chains have been facing competition from mass merchandisers, dollar stores and also local grocers who are stocking products based on consumer demand. In current scenario convenience stores have to show their commitment to customer convenience by drafting a strategy to make their shopping experience a pleasure. Store managers have to include services like wide assortment of products, checkout time, parking layout, work hours and rapid solution to customer problems.
The toughest job for any convenience store owner or manager is managing inventory and managing the daunting task of controlling stocks to ensure that nothing goes waste and stocks are available for customers when desired. In this task they are assisted by wholesalers and distributors who deliver them required stocks when needed and on most occasions by online order. C store distributors work with wholesale distributors and merchandisers on a one to one basis to review sales graphs of products on display and to understand consumer demand.
Challenges that are faced by store owners on a regular basis to meet consumer demand
- Inventory Management – To keep their customers happy and profits on a steady growth path, c store managers have to ensure timely replenishment of fast moving products and creating a demand for new products entering the market. Besides stocking adequate quantity of products, store managers also have to keep right products on the store shelves where the shopper will expect to see them. Convenience store chains should work with specialists who supply few high specialty products and also large distributors of various products to maintain the right mix of goods which will be required by their customers.
- Timely delivery to Market – Understanding customer requirements and ensuring that they reach the store shelves when required are two interconnected challenges that every store manager has to face. Wholesale distributors across interstate markets are able to advice stores on upcoming trends and also inform them about product rankings so that their clients have appropriate selection of items on their shelves.
- Replacement of damaged and spoiled merchandise – To maintain profits stores have to maintain an agreement with their distributors to replace stock which has expired or had flaws hence cannot be sold to customers. This will ensure that relationship on both sides remains cordial and customers get fresh products. With growing demand for ready to eat fresh products, convenience stores are working with local distributors to pick up farm products as fresh as possible to reduce chances of these perishable goods getting spoilt.
- Maintaining profitable relationship with distributors – C store distributors have to set up a data based approach to procuring and supplying products to their clients. They know that larger chain stores have greater ability to store multiple quality products across their stores with different price ranges due to their wider customer base compared to single store operators and maintain their supply adequately. Both large stores and single grocery stores depend upon distributors to keep their stores competitive and filled with products desired by customers.
- Product knowledge and sales – Distributors know that a store has to understand product qualities to help the push them to their clientele. They work with store managers and owners to develop a profitable partnership which will help manufacturers to sell their products to buyers. Distributors may sometimes arrange for demonstrations by manufacturers at c stores and grocers to help buyers and sellers understand the utility of the product better. Distributors rely on informative sales materials and sales portal to help retailers order products and take advantage of special offers during festival season and off season.
Grocers and large chain stores know that having a thorough understanding of market and consumer demands are essential to succeed in this competitive business. They have learnt through experience that focusing on core customer base is essential for remaining competitive in a price for value market. In recent years many small scale grocery chains have been absorbed by large chains making them more competitive and enhancing consumer shopping experience. Distributors have to ensure timely product update to clients for mutually beneficial profits. This helps stores manage their clients’ needs in an effective manner and cut off inefficient processes.
Benefits of timely product updates
- High productivity and low inventory – If convenience stores are able to understand the requirements of their clients well they can squeeze logistics and inventory to improve business and reduce wastage. This technique of keeping low inventory will keep cost benefit ratio high but can lead to problems during a crisis when supply is hit due to natural disasters or other external reasons.
- Managing competition – Ability to plan and manage stock will also help to manage increasing competition from grocery store chains distributors and supermarkets. With low import duties some c-store chains are able to low cost products from international manufacturing destinations and sell them at a higher rate due to lower currency value. To compete with these techniques others in the area also resort to similar measures.
- Space management – They are able to fill up empty spaces in stores as they know the exact quantity of stocks available in each store through electronic databases. This also helps them check on fraudulent activities that some store managers might indulge in to avoid payment of stocks.
Both large and stand-alone convenience stores today need someone who can understand the double challenge of competition and meeting customers’ requirements and converting them into profitable opportunities. Though technology has helped C-store distributors to handle these challenges to a great extent they still have to optimize every nuance of their bundle of services to make profits.
Reasons To Stop Waivering And Order Your Convenience Store Directory
Whether you have just begun a manufacturing company or have been in business for a while, you know you are always looking for new retail outlets to carry your products. This is the only real way to increase your revenues and allow your business to grow. Here are some reasons to go ahead and order your convenience store directory and not continue your hit and miss marketing strategies.
Convenience stores are constantly opening, relocating and changing ownership, which makes getting an up to date list essential. You do not want your staff dedicating days to trying to gather up the same information available in a pre-printed directory. The sources your staff might use to correlate the information like the Internet might already be out of date, causing them to create a list of incorrect information.
By purchasing a prepared list of convenience/grocery store chains, you will get the list in an excel format. This will allow you to easily sort the data by any category you like such as state, city or contact person. An excel list will allow you to create shipping labels with an export function to mail letters of introduction or other promotional material. An excel format will allow you to make notes on individual convenience stores without messing up the file or formatting.
With a convenience store directory, you can get updates twice a year. In the current business climate, stores have a large turn over and new stores are opening all the time. You do not want your employees devoting time to a client or an area only to learn they have an outdated list.
At C Store Directory, we are dedicated to making sure you have the most up to date information in your market. When you purchase our directory, you will get updates for the first year at no additional charge. If you have an questions or need help ordering, contact us today.
With the market on a sure and steady path to recovery, inventors looking to get their innovative product ideas out on shelves in convenience stores across the nation have to brave a number of barriers in order to break into the business successfully. Achieve your dream goal to see your product on the shelves of major market chains and brands like Whole Foods, Target and Walmart with the right approach, effort and research.
Here are a few steps or tried and tested methods to ensure your product gets shelf space and is put out on display at stores.
Take small steps toward a great future. Sure the ultimate end is to see your product up on the shelves of giant commercial store chains, but they might not be interested in an initial startup product without a proper sales base or a steady growing sales record. Start with online sales to introduce your product to customers and prove its ability to sell.
Approach local stores in your neighborhood and town or at stores where you normally shop. Local shop owners are more likely to entertain you and your product. Especially stores that recognize you as a regular customer will be more open and approachable, as you can entice them with an established customer base of friends and acquaintances that comprise your product demographic.
Build a great pitch
No matter what kind of store you approach with your product, make sure you have an excellent sales pitch ready to win over the buyer. It’s best you make a formal appointment and meet the manager in charge of stock and supply intake. Demonstrations of product will help drive your sales pitch, while information on the product is essential to gain buyer confidence and assert validity of product.
Expect denial, but don’t accept it as final
There will be several times where your product meets flat refusal, though with determination and effort you can use suggestions made and criticism offered to better your product. Be it in terms of packaging, labeling or other aspects and aesthetic elements. It is always best to take as much as you can from buyer interactions and work on ways to enhance your standing product and make it more appealing to clients and buyers.
Remember there is always a sure way into the market, and making small changes, like including tamper proof sealing on your product, can make a big difference to a buyer.
Several super market chains and super stores allow small and startup businesses to market their products through special programs where producers interact directly with customers by displaying their products in store aisles and by offering demonstrations and tastings if possible. Allowing buyers and customers the opportunity to try and experience the product for themselves and urges them to make an informed decision while highlighting your product’s appeal and winning qualities.
Store buyers in charge through experience, have a well-based idea of type of products that sell and what exactly people look for when purchasing a product. Interactions with buyers will bring you a wealth of information and feedback you can then use to sell your product. Simple utilitarian additions to design can make a marked difference in how your product is approached by buyers and customers alike. The key is to hold something unique that separates your product from the many generic items sold in stores already. The more your product stands apart from the rest, the higher the likelihood of store buyers giving your product shelf space or keep them on display.
Expand your buyer base
Visit trade shows, exhibitions and fairs. Check out C Store Distributors Directory and C Store Directory, this will give you a more in depth view of the market and widen your exposure to interested buyers across the nation. However, before you do enroll yourself into a trade fair, research the many fairs to gain an understanding of which ones best suit your product. Trade exhibitions that hold a broad display of unrelated products might leave you feeling like you don’t belong and worse yet, unnoticed by the many buyers who do attend.
It is best to get a good idea of what the show covers, or look for product specific trade shows that deal in your area of specialized goods. Trade shows will introduce you to a gamut of store retailers with valid contact information using which you can contact them and meet them separately to develop better relations thus broadening your buyer spectrum base.
Opt for broker assistance
Many a time product inventors or designers aren’t very good sales people, or haven’t time at their disposal to meet and interact with store buyers, or can’t afford to hire a dedicated person to direct product sales. In situations like these, convenience store brokers come to the rescue. Brokers can make sales for you with their pre-established buyer relations and familiarity of market, brokers greatly help emerging and startup companies get their products in stores.
With the help of a broker you can spread sales across different regions across the country. In addition brokers work on about 5-15% commission made on approved sales.
The best way to get your product on display shelves at retail stores is have the buyer contact you. If customers begin asking for your product in stores, then buyers will be forced to call and stock up on your product. Achieve this by creating marketing buzz about your product.
Advertise and market your product online through popular blogs and social news feeds. With a sufficient number of people having read about and tried your product, they are bound to pass on the message, enticing their friends and family to try it out too. This creates hype and excitement over the product and people just love anything fresh and exciting.
Build customer relations by interacting with bloggers asking them for relevant feedback and opinion about your product. If their interest in your product is heightened, they might take it upon themselves to write about and share your product.
Why Buying at Convenience Store Chains is Better than Buying in Bulk at Warehouse Clubs
Regular shoppers at warehouse clubs like Costco, Sam’s Club and others always save money when they buy their daily needs of essentials at these places. Since these stores have bargaining power with their manufacturers/vendors for the bulk supplies that are picked up each month from them, warehouse clubs can afford to pass them on to their customers. Buying in large quantities sometimes brings down the overall per unit price but during special discount seasons a product at local convenience store may sometimes cost lesser. If you have a large family then buying food items, household cleaning liquids, books, bathroom essentials in bulk every month makes sense otherwise they can get spoilt.
As convenience store chains provide the same variety of products as warehouses club you can use them to buy small quantities of essentials. Here is a list of things that you considered were being offered real cheap at warehouse clubs but in reality can be bought in other places at a lesser price.
- Books and electronic storage devices – People who have recently purchased a collection of books, movie or music DVDs, USBs or empty DVDs, and are boasting to their friends about the bargain, would be disappointed to know that buying from Amazon can save them almost 20 percent. If you are a book lover and the heady smell of new books is like wine, become a member of public libraries in your area and you can enjoy them for free.
- Large electronics – Warehouse clubs give great offers on large electrical appliances like televisions, food processors, refrigerators, and washing machines etc., which are generally clubbed together with other small products like iron, hair dryers or others which may not be of the brand you prefer. Instead of buying expensive appliances that you may regret at a later date it is better to buy these electrical goods from Best Buy, Sears, and Frye’s or even Wal-Mart.
- Branded cereals – So you thought buying large cartons of cereals was a bargain in comparison to buying small cartons. Unfortunately that is not the case as prices on branded cereals are the same irrespective of the quantity as they are sold in pre-packed cartons. So instead of buying a huge carton of cereal and forcing everyone to eat it better get a variety of options for every member of the family.
- Milk – People generally go overboard over low milk prices at warehouse clubs and buy several liters. They then have to pour it down the drain as you can only use milk for limited purposes within a day or two. Convenience store chains also sell milk sometimes at a discount which you can buy in smaller quantities for use.
- Stocking on soda – Kids generally tend to gulp down soda cans during summer. If you think that warehouse clubs are the best place to buy them at rock bottom prices check out the prices at your local grocer store. Since they offer discounts on several brands of fruit juices and energy drinks during this period, chances are you can end up saving more at a local store than a warehouse store where you may have to buy dozens of cans of the same soda variety.
- Detergents and cleaning products – If you are determined to buy your supply of washing detergents, bleaches and toilet cleaners from warehouse clubs then check on manufacturing date and buy latest ones. Powder detergents will last longer than cakes and liquid washing bleaches therefore buying them is a better option.
- Fashionable clothing – Do not buy your fashion garments from warehouse clubs as generally these are seconds and low quality stuff from your fashion label. Better buy your clothes from departmental stores which specialize in selling clothes which can be tried on before purchase.
- Condiments and spices – It is unlikely that you are going to finish that large bottle of hot sauce or spices all by yourself within 3-4 months as that is generally the shelf life of these products. So unless you are planning to host a large party at home for friends and family where these things will be used in great quantities stick to buying from local grocer.
- Lotions, creams, shampoos – Now let us get to the part where all of us are convinced that buying large bottles and tubs of creams, lotions and shampoos from warehouse clubs save us several hundred dollars every year. But unless there are several people in the family using the same brand of these products buying these products in bulk is not viable as they expire within 6-8 months and unused products go waste. Bulk purchases at low prices always look appealing, it is only when you see them piled up you realized the futility of buying on bulk when there are few users at home.
- Toilet paper and paper towels – There is not much difference in price levels at warehouse clubs and convenience stores of paper products as these again have a standard price which manufacturers rarely reduce. If you buy during sales or discounts at convenience stores they cost almost the same.
- Canned products – Your local supermarket will give you a better deal on canned goods and you can have savings of 20-30 percent on them. If your local convenience store has its own brand of canned products then they will hold discounts on them on a regular basis and they will cost lesser than national or local brands at a warehouse club.
So does this mean that warehouse clubs do not offer value for money? If that would have been the case these brands would not be growing and expanding branches across the nation. Warehouse clubs do offer good discounts of 15 – 40 percent from conventional stores on average. But there is no guarantee that all products are priced lower than your local convenience store and you need to do a little homework before buying from warehouse clubs. Make a comparison of per unit cost, loyalty discount, membership fees and quantity that you have to buy or need before you make the next purchase at warehouse clubs.
Marketing is an ongoing part of any wholesale distribution business. Introducing a new product in today’s competitive marketplace is not easy. But this is the need of every growing business. Wholesale distribution business can’t thrive without new product launches or improving existing stocks or without maintaining quality of existing stock.
This scenario gets even more competitive when it comes to food distribution business. For people in the wholesale distribution trade, there are many options in buying and selling food products. Whether it is dry foods or frozen; meat, poultry, seafood; dairy or fresh fruits and vegetables – the business can be profitable but as it is also competitive, it is not easy to launch a new food product into retail stores. But with the right plan it is doable and with success.
Understand your product
For successful distribution into the the c store channel, it is important to understand the dynamics of a new product launch in the market. A new product in the market first comes via a manufacturer or a vendor. You then sell the new product to wholesale distributors (www.cstoredistributors.com). But before distributors commit to buying a new product it is imperative that they understand what the product is all about. Is there a need for the product in the market? What is the competition like for this type of product?
For instance, a manufacturer is launching a new range of gourmet packaged food. The product might fulfill all the criteria for a successful launch like quality, pricing and the market need. But is it for them? Is it the right product for their market? A distribution business might consist of supplying dairy products to independent stores. Will they buy this gourmet product? What is the disposable income of the community where their retail clients are located? Or can you find new retail stores to sell these gourmet packaged foods? Asking such questions and more and seeking answers for the same will help you understand if you can market and sell this new product to convenience stores.
Research the market
Do your own research for your new product. Send samples and brochures to retail clients to gain some insight. Convenience stores (www.cstoredirectory.com) are more than happy to stock new products that they can sell with ease if they see or vision the demand. Also reach out to new stores in new locations to get a diverse understanding of what retailers think of your product.
Also, do some online research. Check if this kind of product is in demand. Check out the competition. See what types of stores are selling the product in question. See if convenience stores stock anything similar to your food product.
Also visit the stores. Go and check the aisles and range of gourmet products that are stocked there. Observe the pricing of the competition and do some research on those as well.
Work out the details
So you have a new product that you know you can sell to retail stores. It is a good product and you know you can sell your inventory to wholesalers. To do so, negotiate the largest discount amount from your vendor for the product, unless you are the manufacturer. Right pricing is a very essential for the success of a new product.
Ask retail stores if they would be able to or be willing to promote the product in a big way. This is done by setting up standalone tables inside the stores to introduce the product to the consumers or by the placement of banners or other marketing materials inside the convenience store premises. Most retail stores are more than happy and willing to promote a new product this way as it gives the store a good vibe and makes the store attractive for customers even if they don’t buy the products.
Step up the marketing
If a wholesale distributor is excited to sell your new product and believes that they can turn a profit on your new food items, then it is a good idea to formulate a marketing plan for the new product. To continue with the example of gourmet packaged foods, make a list of all the stores, or distributors you want to include in your marketing plan.