Your Product’s Journey From Home to the Shelves Of Convenience Store Chains
Congratulations on your new product. You’ve invested a lot of time and resources in the development phase. You have also spent a lot of sweat in getting the product ready and you know it is ready to hit the shelves now.
It looks good and you know it will deliver great value – that’s why you developed it in the first place. You’re sure that the new product has what it takes to become a huge hit. After it secures a place on retailers’ shelves, that is.
Now, if only convenience store buyers could understand the beauty of your new product just as easily and as profoundly as you do. Life would be great then, wouldn’t it? The problem is, convenience store buyers can be a tough lot to please. Especially, for first-time product developers and first-time business owners.
Here are seven quick tips to help you in the process
Know your product. Thoroughly
Agreed the product is your brainchild – your baby, and you are sure you know everything about it, but how thoroughly are you prepared to answer questions related to the product? You have the features and benefits memorized. You know your USP, but how well can you justify them? What will your reply to “why should I buy this?” be?
A good idea in this regard is to think of all product-related questions convenience store buyers can ask you and write down their answers in a notebook. Practice answering the questions so that you do not stutter or rattle unnecessarily when meeting potential buyers.
Ensure that you know all answers related to features and benefits, costs and specifications, payment terms, return policies, minimum order quantity, retail/wholesale price as well as expiry, without having to look into your notes. Retailers may want to know which other convenience store chains carry your product (if applicable) and you must be in a position to answer how many units from each store have been sold.
Know your convenience store buyers
Research, research, research. You want to contact retailers from your niche who will be a good fit for the product. While you can always turn to the good old yellow pages for making a list of suitable convenience store chains and small retailers, turning to the Internet will be easier and less time-consuming. Online directories provide industry-wide listings and you can easily download a C store list, grocery store list and list of convenience store chains at www.cstoredirectory.com. Attend conferences, convenience store trade shows and other industry related events to make direct, in-person contacts with buyers. Home Depot and Walmart for example, host events where you can pitch your products to a targeted audience.
Such events provide opportunity to make personal connections and learn about the needs of the buyer. Understand the different tiers of distribution in your niche. Do big retailers buy from distributors only? What is their approach to smaller businesses? You’ll find that most convenience store chains use a softer approach with smaller businesses than they do with multinationals. So don’t be intimidated. If you have a great product, which can offer value to the market segment they target, go ahead and contact them.
Dress your product for the buyers
After obtaining a C store list, dress your product to suit the buyers in your list. Visit the stores to see how items for sale are placed. Know which aisles on which floors carry products similar to yours. How are they placed? Are they stacked? Do they hang? Dress your product accordingly. Show them that your product will be a good fit.
A good rule of thumb is to package the product such that it takes up as little floor/shelf space as possible. Further, see if you can offer any promotional items. Point of purchase posters and displays that attract consumers will be appreciated by convenience store buyers since they have to spend less time in selling your products.
Prepare your pitch
You want to use the time you have wisely, when pitching. Prepare a pitch in advance and practice, practice, practice before pitching in front of a potential buyer. It is important to stay on topic, talk about the benefits, the USP, and what the buyer has in it for him, from storing your products.
Don’t forget to make it personal. Add a quick, interesting story of how the product came to be . Load your pitch with brag-worthy stuff – testimonials, press releases, industry awards and so on. Include points related to category management and competitive pricing.
Make an offer they can’t refuse
When pitching the product, make an offer that is difficult to refuse. Ensure that you know all details of the product and its placement, when making an offer. This will help you answer buyers’ questions and tackle their objections on the go, increasing your chances of being accepted.
When it’s time to bring an offer to the table, put your best foot forward. “Risk-free trials” where they can return unsold products to you, or consignment deals minimize risks for buyers and make them more open to accepting your offer.
Know your true cost per unit. It will help you bargain better. True cost per unit includes all expenses related to production, packaging, shipping and so on. Further, have your universal product code (UPC) number and related details acquired beforehand. The UPC is a unique 12-digit number assigned to different variations of any product and big buyers look for products that have their own UPC numbers. You can join GS1 US or have a broker sell you a code.
Be prepared to deliver asap
Have products handy, so that you can ship them as and when asked. Keep order forms, catalogs and shipment supplies ready. You do not want to be given a chance only to fail. Before approaching large convenience store chains, ensure that you have the money and inventory to complete as well as finish bulk orders on time. If you don’t, strike off such stores from your C store list and get back to them when you have scaled up.
Build a network
Buzz. A social circle will get you into places, which simple pitching won’t be able to. Set up social media profiles, talk about the product on your personal profile, get friends to talk about it. Find bloggers and reviewers who can sample the product and discuss it online. The buzz you create will help you make a strong case in front of buyers. It will also help you gain connections with industry insiders and take your business forward.
All seven steps should be a part of your monthly or weekly, retail marketing plan. Begin with signing up for online directories, make a list of the buyers you’d want to target first and get started on your product’s journey to retail shelves.
Grocery Stores in the U.S. Do you have a product for grocery stores?
There are so many things to consider when getting ready to get your idea for a product from your head to the shelves. If you’re new to the game, then making a lot of choices that have to do with placing your item on specific store shelves if very difficult. For example, the first thing you need to decide is what kind of venue you’re looking to have your product occupy. Is it best meant for a grocery store shelf, or a convenience store shelf? Once you figure this out, then you’ll narrow down the window of possible routes to take.
If grocery store shelves is where you think you’ll have the most success, then you have a lot of choices for where to go. For example, you could find your idea next to other staples at places like Kroger, Walmart and Publix. The hard part is figuring out how to get to that stage. Before you can do that, you’ll need to decide if you’d like to focus on going through a broker, here is a good blog about finding grocery store brokers.
Many people are mistaken about the difference between these two routes. While they both end with you finding financial success through your product sales, they go about it in a slightly different ways. A broker is paid for by the grocery store and sent out to look for items that would do well in their stores. You can market to a broker, but they’re on a mission to secure items they’ve been set to find.
Distributors work for the people selling items. To acquire a distributor, you have to appeal to them and market your item. While this sounds like more work than going with a broker, once a distributor picks up your product, they will do all the selling for you. This is great because they know the market well enough to understand exactly where your product should end up in order to bring in the most sales—a distributor wants their clients to be successful because it in turn reflects on them. This differs from a broker, who won’t work as hard for an individual product because their sights are set on granting success to the stores who pay them.
This means that if you go through a broker and your product doesn’t do well, then you’ll face changing loyalties and the possibility that you won’t be featured on anyone’s shelves. However, a distributor is all about getting you success, so if you find your product not doing well in a particular store, then they’ll just move their sights in order to ensure that you do find what you’re looking for. The difference in the dynamics is important, because distributors offer a security that may be worth the effort it takes to acquire one.
After deciding on where to set your focus, you now have to find ways to gather the contact information you need to get in touch with the people who will help you continue down your road. You have the option of finding this information yourself, which will cost you no money up front, but will cost you a great deal of time and effort. Usually that means your dream of selling your idea will be put off because of how long you’ll need to find the resources and information necessary to continue.
Instead of wasting all that time and effort on groping blindly in the dark, or attending countless trade shows with nothing to show for it, you could be doing something easier and more useful for your product. There are ways of acquiring the information you desire without wasting any time or efforts. Please read blogs above.
The best part of using a previously existing directory is that someone else is using their resources to find updates and add them to your list. All you have to do is pay an annual fee to subscribe to the directory and you’ll automatically be set to go. More than anything else, you’ll also have access to a place that is made up of people who have been in the business for a long time. They know what to look for and what information you’ll need to accomplish what you want. This means that you won’t also be wasting your time with a long list of information. It’s arranged in an easy-to-use format, and updated twice a year, ensuring you’re not behind in the market.
If you’re serious about getting your product out onto a grocery store shelf, then you’ll need help finding people who will bridge the gap between you and the store. You can try to approach them yourself, but just like with book publishing, having an agent is really the only way to ensure success. Why not take advantage of an already established directory that brings you literally all the contact information you need? You’ll need your time and effort for other things that require your attention, such as getting your product set up and ready to be defended to a distributor.
Don’t let your dreams get away from you because of your pride or the fear of investing in this directory—resources are priceless, and the only people who win at the game in the end is those who didn’t take unnecessary risks before having the tools to bounce back from them. Claim your victory—and let the experts help you get there!
Who are the Largest Convenience Store Distributors in the U.S.?
When it comes to marketing your product to people who will get your idea out from your head and onto the shelves, not many know where to begin. It’s very difficult to navigate a system if you’ve never had any experience in the field, and most of it can seem very daunting. The first thing to know is that there are a great deal of resources available to you, and that there are people who you can network with that will help you get started and follow the tried and true route to becoming successful.
After forming an idea, there’s a great deal of things that need to be prepared before you can go any further. Once you’ve figured out an appropriate spreadsheet for your product, you can then try to find either a convenience store broker or a convenience store distributor. The difference between the two are that a broker works for the stores and scouts for products that would do well in those individual chains, where as a convenience store distributor is approached by you with a product you want to market to them for sale. They then go to the stores and try to appeal to them, and get your product on the shelves. There are a few major distributors, but most people have never heard of them. While they do most of the work to connect products to the shelves, their names aren’t household-known.
Below are a few of the largest Convenience Store Distributors:
• Core-Mark – Core-Mark is one of the largest market distributors in North America. They started in 1888, and service over 29.000 stores and markets across the United States and Canada. With their long history of dealing in this field, they are one of the strongest distributors across the country. They boast about their competitive pricing, on-time deliveries and full service marketing solutions. They have 28 distribution centers spread across the United States, most concentrated towards the west coast, but enough to make their services extremely reliable and secure.
They focus on purchasing a great deal of general merchandise, beauty and health products, and frozen products. Their careful planning and experience allows them to offer competitive pricing and quality services. They offer a great deal of marketer programs for those looking to work with them, including a great deal of different kind of promotional offers. With all these resources available to them, it’s clear why they’re a top distributor in the country, and across Canada.
To access their website, visit here: http://www.core-mark.com/
• HT Hackney – Started in 1891, this distribution company focuses on offering extremely competitive prices, and quality services. Rather than forcing their stores to have to turn to a great deal of people in order to stock their shelves, this distributor believes in being the kind of company that stores can turn to completely in order to stock their entire store without having to depend on any other distributor. They service over 30,000 stores and markets with over 25,000 products for their shelves. Their distribution centers are cleverly placed across the country and span 22 states, most concentrated on the east side of the United States. This allows them to virtually access any area quickly and efficiently.
This distribution company believes in being more than just a supplier—they also believe in providing community outreach and other additional services. They boast about their ability to form connections and close relationships with all of the stores they supply, and keep that bond nurtured through outreach and offering a great deal of packages and bonus services.
You can read more about them by visiting their website here: http://www.hthackney.com/
• McLane – Founded in 1894, this company boasts that it is one of the largest and most popular distributors in the country. They focus on grocery and drug store distribution, as well as food services and alcohol supplies. This range is one of the benefits of this company—they service convenience stores, as well as chain restaurants and places that sell alcoholic beverages. This is a large area of expertise, leading them to know a lot about how to market and promote a wide variety of ideas.
This company is by far the largest, boasting 80 distribution centers across the country, and sending out over 50,000 products to over 90,000 locations. Even with the high volume of costumers, this company can still over great prices and on-time delivery. On top of all this, they offer a great deal of different kinds of programs and services that go beyond basic distribution. They do outreach to their communities, and provide their employees with a great deal of different kinds of training and support. There is a great deal of resources and services can be seen on their website, which is accessed by visiting: https://www.mclaneco.com/content/mclane/en/home.html
These three distributors, while they say many of the same things, provide a great deal of support and services in different ways. All three have been around for a large amount of time, and so the experience and understanding that comes from that kind of long term hold in the field is invaluable. When looking for distributors and comparing them to one another, keep in mind how these successful companies operate, and which qualities are important to them. Also, remember to keep your audience and desired region in mind, since some distributors focus on one part of the country over others. Regardless, finding a distributor that fits your product is important, and researching them before you get started on your quest to create a partnership.
Here is a great resource where you can find over 1,000 convenience store distributors www.cstoredistributors.com. It is the convenience store distributors directory and it is a great resource to have if you are looking to sell your product to convenience store distributors.
Where to find convenience store wholesale distributors and who are they?
Many of us walk into stores every day, never knowing the process that happens to get items onto the shelf. There’s a magic that happens almost instantly that brings us products, and usually products we want and use often. If you want a snack, you know where to go to get it—and this is especially true when you’re on the road and you stop into a store that has every item you could have ever asked for in that moment. Every one of us has been in that situation, and not one of us has ever questioned how items get from a creator into our hands.
If you’ve ever been plagued with a great idea, though, you know all too well the long and hard process to get your idea from your head to the point where it is on the shelves. For most, this process is so hard that they never get through it, but for those with the drive to continue and those who know where to find the resources that will help them the most, they’re future is lined in success. So how exactly does the process work? First you need to have an idea that is original and will make money when brought to convenience store wholesale distributors. The best way to make sure that your idea is original and strong enough to withstand the competition, you can create a spreadsheet of information on your product. After that, it’s time for you to market to convenience store wholesale distributors.
Many aren’t sure what the difference is between many of the people who are around to help you market your product. There are convenience store brokers and convenience store wholesale distributors, which while they might sound the same, work in two very different ways. Convenience store brokers are paid by the sales they bring in from the manufacturer (you) and work by scouting for products that would best benefit the stores, while convenience store wholesale distributors work for themselves by purchasing your product and bringing your product to market. This difference in who they are working for is important to understanding how to best interact with each in order to get the most for your product. In this case, when it comes to your product, a convenience store broker will be actively looking for a very specific products, where as you can approach any wholesale distributor and market your product to them—they will them do their best to place your idea onto the appropriate shelves.
A convenience store wholesale distributor will more than likely require you to market your product to them before they take it on as something they advertise and place on shelves across the country. This means that you will have to explain to them what makes your product special and why they should work to get it sold. Here is where having a strong argument in favor of your idea will come in handy. Once you have successfully caught the attention of a distributor, then they will work to get your product out there, and once that results in securing shelf space, you will finally start to see the revenue you were hoping for when you started this journey.
Now the question becomes: How do you get yourself to a distributor? There are a few ways. The first is to purchase a directory of convenience store wholesale distributors www.cstoredistributors.com. This usually works by paying a once-a-year fee in exchange for a directory of names and contact information. With that in your arsenal, you can then contact whoever you’d like to make an appointment with them. This is a great option because it means you can go at your own pace and find distributors that are realistic to get to and cost little money in terms of travel and supplies.
The other way of reaching out to convenience store wholesale distributors is to go to convenience store tradeshows and market yourself directly to any wholesale distributors there. This is the best option for those who are both new to marketing themselves and those who don’t have the funds or ability to travel far. By going to convenience store tradeshows, you guarantee that you are going to be near a great deal of people who are directly related to your business without the time and effort of contacting each one of them separately. The drawback of going this route is that it costs money to go to these tradeshows, and sometimes the big shows are no where your home base, meaning you’ll need to travel a great distance to attend a show that may not yield any success for you.
Going through a wholesale distributor is extremely helpful for those who aren’t already established in the convenience store field because it allows you to form a partnership with someone who is both more experienced with selling products to convenience stores and getting ideas to the shelves. It also allows you to access resources that you would otherwise not have access to—especially in terms of networking and knowledge of how things get done. As time passes and you experience more success in marketing your products, you can take more control over how your products are placed in stores. In the beginning though, it’s in your best interest to connect with as many people as possible, especially those who have more connections than you do. The important thing to remember when starting out is that it is important to create a strong product and equally important to network well and connect with a strong alliance of knowledgeable veterans.
Convenience Store Distributors Directory
There’s an easy process to follow when you find you have a product to sell. Many believe that in order to achieve great success, you need to suffer and struggle for a long amount of time—to put your blood, sweat and tears into what you’re doing, and to have a great deal of hardship thrust onto your shoulders, but none of that is necessary if you know where to find the resources you need, and how to use the things you find.
If you find that you have a product that you know will sell well in a convenience store, then you’re well on your way to getting your idea out there and making you money. The next step, after you’ve thought of the idea and planned out all the details is to promote it to those individuals who are going to get your idea from your brain, to the shelves. That’s where a convenience store distributors directory comes in.
The convenience store distributors directory is a comprehensive list of distributors and convenience store brokers that you can access once you purchase the list. This includes all sorts of contact information and resources you need in order to market yourself to those who can be vital to getting your idea out there. One great example of a directory is found here: http://www.cstoredistributors.com/
This directory has nearly everything you need in order to get your product on the road to bringing in a great deal of money. It features over one thousand distributors, and even includes the top one hundred convenience stores chains, and over two thousand convenience store brokers. All these contain complete contact information, so that once you have access to this list, you have free reign to contact who you will and begin marketing your product to them.
While this doesn’t sound overly impressive, breaking down the information provided here really shows just how much you’re getting for your money. First of all, having access to all this contact information is enough to purchase the list. The time and effort it takes to collect this kind of database is incredible, and when you think of all the time it would take you to do the same, it’s mind blowing. Depending on which route you want to take with your product—either contacting the chains yourself or going to a broker—all that information is available to you. This is extremely helpful because depending on your product and how aggressively you want to work to market it, you’ll have literally all the information you need to pursue it. If you want to have someone market your product for you, then you can access the list of brokers, but if you want to have more control and do more of the heavy lifting, then you can settle for the list of convenience store chains and convenience store distributors.
So how do you go about accessing this intense directory? The cost of the directory is a one time annual payment of $399. This includes every single contact within the list, and full access to the resources provided. It also give you access to the updated list. This directory is updated twice a year, which means that twice during your subscription, you are going to have the latest and most accurate information of those ready to help you get your product out there.
Another benefit of using this directory is how easy it is. Once you are a directory subscriber, you will be emailed in an excel spreadsheet, which is an incredibly easy format to use when it comes to sorting and separating information. With all this information already provided for you, and given to you in a way that’s very easy to use and to sort through (see sample here), you’ll find that a lot of your time will be saved. One of the most important things for you to remember is that during this part of the process, you’re going to want to spend most of your time on fixing your idea and making it ready and presentable to distributors who will then go on to market your idea to stores. Many people worry about expending that kind of money on a directory when they think that simply using an online keyword search will yield similar results, which is FALSE. Using your precious time on trying to find contact information on your own, or trying to understand a complicated directory system is a waste and will result only in delaying your dreams.
Instead of settling for a cheaper, less reliable system, or deciding it’s better to do it on your own because it’s free, purchase this directory and experience what it’s like to have experts handing you the information you need to succeed. With that time saved, you have more time to focus your energy and resources into creating a strong case for your product and working towards something tangible.
Convenience Store Tradeshows-Get your product into convenience stores
When you’re trying to get your idea to become something that will sustain you financially, it’s important to get your name out there. This part of the process is the most difficult because if you’re new to the scene, you may not know much about how to go about properly getting your product out on the market to such a degree that it continues to fill as many shelves as possible. Some methods of getting your idea out into the world cost a lot of money, or are extremely time consuming. However, there are a ton of other options open to you that will ensure your product gets the attention it deserves, and that you make the money you need to continue bringing ideas into reality.
One thing that will significantly help you get your idea onto convenience store shelves is going to convenience store tradeshows or linking yourself of with brokers like the www.checkstandprogram.com. Tradeshows like NACS http://www.cstoredistributors.com/nacs-show/ are very helpful for those trying to connect and network with others. Usually they involve people with a product displaying their wares for those who are interested in buying or investing in them. From comic books to dogs to nail polish to antiques, most conventions have tradeshow floors where manufacturers get together to advertise their products to distributors and convenience stores that are interested in either seeing new and upcoming projects, or want to purchase on the spot.
Convenience store tradeshows are the same in that regard. They feature a great deal of convenience store distributors and wholesalers and allow for convenience store owners and representatives to come around and look at the kinds of products they’re interested in adding to their shelves. This is a great chance for them to see what is out there, which products are currently the most popular, and it allows stores and companies to quickly see competitors and their products. A lot of times this also is a great time for convenience stores to buy stock in products they’re interested in. Convenience store distributors will often buy bulk deals. Because of all the incentive for stores to buy at the tradeshows, they often come with the intention of buying a great deal of product for their stores. Sometimes they go back to known distributors and save the bulk of their purchases for when they know they’ll get a discount, and sometimes they will try new venues.
Tradeshows provide the potential to make a great deal of money because the premise and understanding of the purpose is to network and sell stock of items. These two things are extremely helpful for anyone who wants to build a relationship with stores or wants to sell a great deal of product in a short amount of time. The potential for things to work in favor of the distributor are very high if they can get in with a few stores, and so participating in a tradeshow is highly recommended.
However, there is a lot of risk that also comes with attending a tradeshow. Sometimes, the shows cost a great deal of money. The problem with this is if you don’t make that money back in sales, you’ll end up at a loss. There’s also other costs to take into consideration when going to tradeshows. Sometimes these shows are far away, so transportation costs need to be calculated. There’s also the cost of transporting all the stock of product to the tradeshow.
All of these things could result in a lot of financial loses for those coming to tradeshows in order to get their product out there. When thinking about whether or not to attend, you have to consider the potential gains against the potential losses. Sometimes it’d better to wait for the bigger shows to lessen financial costs, but if they’re far away, it may be in your best interest to consider attending a great deal of smaller, close-by tradeshows. If you’re nervous about the potential of not doing well at a show, it may be in your best interest to start small by contacting convenience store distributors and convenience store chains buyers. You should take a look at www.cstoredistributors.com and www.cstoredirectory.com.
Regardless of how you decide to jump into this world of advertising and networking, once you gain friends within the convenience store industry, your product will begin to spread and take off. There’s nothing that will top the benefit of making friends that will help you get your name out there, and hopefully forge long-lasting relationships with stores that will take your idea and bring it to the audience you always dreamed of.
Grocery Store Chains-Get Your Product Into Grocery Store Chains
When you have a product that would be perfect for grocery store shelves, the hardest thing is actually getting it on the shelves. There are a ton of ways of going from having an idea that is now a real product to something that you can actually see on shelves, something that others will demand and buy.
Some ways of getting your product out there involves you advertising for yourself, and marketing your product through shows and smaller markets. The only real way that this takes off is if you gain fame by having a product so wanted, that sales explode and your name is passed around by your customers. When this happens, usually you’ll be approached by stores interested in selling your product or a company who wants to buy the rights to produce your product. Regardless, the amount of time and energy it takes to maintain that kind of marketing is exhausting, and most often, you’ll find your savings are wasted on a venture that never came to fruition.
When your spending is limited, and you are holding a main job outside of creating products to be sold, you’re forced to look for alternative options in marketing your idea to a grocery store. Fortunately, there are significantly easier and better options available to you. If you think you’ve got a strong product, you can attend tradeshows or find a broker, but when you’re just starting out and haven’t had a lot of time or experience networking, the best thing to do is find a directory of grocery store chains.
Usually, after paying some kind of fee, you have access to a huge list of grocery store chains, and you also have access to the buyer’s who can bring your product in. Sometimes, having the option to present your product to grocery store chains is all you need for success.
One great directory that will help you get your product on the shelf is: http://www.cstoredirectory.com/. Our directory of convenience stores and grocery store chains, as well as a network of experts www.checkstandprogram.com, that can help you get your product where it needs to go. To have access to over 13,000 contacts, there is a one-time payment of $499, which gives you an incredible amount of resources. For example, our list of convenience and grocery store chains is extensive, and extremely impressive. Anything you’re trying to find will be there, as will the access to view and contact people who can help you get to the stage of selling your products.
Our directory cuts out the process of waiting for opportunity to strike, or having to fight to be recognized. You have access to the names of grocery store chains, buyers and can then begin the process of appealing to them to gain shelf space. A huge characteristic of a good directory is that it’s updated regularly. Our directory is updated twice a year, meaning the information you’re getting is current and up-to-date. Before you begin contacting stores though, it’s assumed that you’ve already compiled a great deal of marketable information about your product—after that, the rest all depends on how well you’re able to convince these buyers that you’re worth the space and time it’ll take to sell your idea.
If you click here http://www.cstoredirectory.com/free-sample/ you can request a free sample. With our sample, you can really tell if this is something that you want to invest in and as a means of getting your products in grocery chain stores. In addition to allowing you request a free sample, we also provide you with the opportunity to read a free blog detailing suggestions and tips for those trying to market their products. Just with these tools alone, you can expand your ability to sell you product across a great deal of shelves nation-wide.
If you’re pressed for time or simply don’t want to do the tedious work it takes to go through the directory and market your idea yourself, there’s an even simpler option available through this site. It’s called “checkstand program” and essentially what happens is you pay another fee, and you are guaranteed placement in anywhere from 200-5,000 convenience stores. If you’re completely sure of your product, then this is the option for you, because once you prove how valuable you are to a store, they will keep coming back for more.
The key to any success in this field is maintaining a good attitude and having a strong product. If you are able to market what you have to others, then most of the work is already done for you. If your idea is not something that people want to invest in, then no amount of work will get you reorders. After purchasing our directory, the best thing to do is to ask for as much advice as you can to ensure that your product is as strong as possible, and in a state that people can’t resist. If your idea is desired, then people will fight to get it in their stores, and customers will flock to purchase it. From there, you’ll be in a position to negotiate and choose where your products are sold. Before that point, however, information is your best weapon, and gathering as much of it as possible is the key to success.
Creating a Sales Sheet to Present to Convenience Store Chains and C-Store Distributors
Many of us have come up with ideas for great products we’ve wanted to sell, but most of us don’t get any farther than that. It takes a lot of planning and a lot of hard work to get your product from idea to reality. Opportunities can come at any time, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible so you never miss one. There are a few things you can do to ensure that you have an easier time going through the process of moving your product from simple idea to something that will occupy a shelf.
One thing that will definitely help you is Creating a Sales Sheet for Convenience Store Distributors that details everything there is to know about your product so that you can successfully market your ideas to a manufacturer, a distributor, and finally a convenience store looking to add your product to their shelves. When creating your spreadsheet, there are some important things you should include in order to show that your product is fully fleshed out and something that is not only realistic but that you’re also serious about.
1. Product Description – It’s in your best interest to describe your product thoroughly, but also keep it brief and short enough for someone to read. It’s important to include the most valuable information, especially what would be important to a distributor. Using bullet points is the best way to accomplish this because they’re easy to see and the broken text spaces are more appealing to the eye. Many of us want to use this space to really flesh out our product and show how skilled and knowledgeable we are as inventors and innovators. Putting too much information may make your proposal less appealing, so try to stick to the basics for now.
2. Why is your product unique? It’s extremely crucial that you include all the reasons that your product is one of kind. If it seems that your product can easily be replaced by another easier, or cheaper version, it will lack the demand needed to keep sales going and eventually, lead to it coming off the shelves. If a distributor thinks that sales won’t be what they crave, you won’t get farther than an idea. Half of the battle of becoming successful is securing a support from distributors, and being a favorable product in the convenience store. This is the only way you will be a popular find across the nation.
3. Packaging – You need to carefully think of the logistics of how your product will be packaged. This will determine a great deal of the appeal of your product, as well as how it will keep on the shelf, and how much it will cost. When packaging is elaborate, it’s sometimes a deterrent to shoppers, and if it’s too bulky, it might take up more shelf space than it’s worth. Make sure to think carefully about this part to make sure it’s realistic, useful, and appealing.
The best way to approach this step is to come up with a prototype, or a sketch of what it will look like, and what materials it will be made from. If you have a logo, it would be in your best interest to include that on the product as well. Finding some books on the science of color will help to ease some of the stress of designing the packaging. Make sure to put yourself in your target audience’s shoes—what would catch your eye the most? What would be the most appealing? Aim for that and you will definitely hit success.
4. Images – It’s a great idea to include a lot of images, even if these are created before the product is a reality. Make sure the photos are detailed, clear, and that there are enough for the viewer to really get an idea of the size of the product. If the product comes in pieces, show those as well. It’s always better to have at least a prototype to take photos of—these will be significantly more appealing than sketches of a potential product. If the product is something that is worn, or used in a specific way, it’s also okay to feature models or people posed in positions that describe and emphasize the product’s usefulness.
5. UPC – UPC stands for Universal Product Code and is used for tracking items in stores. Like a ISBN, which is a unique number at the back of books and other media, every item sold in the stores has a specific number associated with it. Even different editions of the same novel will have different ISBNs. Likewise, no two items have the same number. This is so that people can identify your product very easily. Including this code is extremely important—don’t forget it! Without including it, there’s really no way for people to safely and securely identify your exact object. This should be easy for them to see and understand—avoid any confusion here.
6. Special details – What else can you say about your product that will make it more appealing? Is it designed to be sold in bundles for a more appealing price? Does it come in a set? These are things that could make it a more desirable product in the marketplace, thus making what you’re trying to sell more appealing. Don’t bother to bog it down with potential scenarios for your product—stick to the facts and keep it simple. The easier it is for others to understand what your idea is, the better it will be to sell it to others.
Remember that these distributors and convenience stores are reading a massive amount of these proposals and so keeping it short, but informative is key to being noticed. If your product is unique and something that people will want to buy, it’s important that you both explain this thoroughly, and completely, but also thoughtfully and simply. If your descriptions are too long, more than likely you’ll be skipped.
Finally, remember to check your work and your writing. Others will judge you by what you product looks like on paper, and there’s nothing worse than having someone think you’re less than capable just because you had mistakes in your grammar and syntax. Have someone look over your spreadsheet and edit any unnoticed mistakes before attempting to share it with the people you are trying to impress.
Distributing Products Through Convenience Store Distributors
Product distribution is a key component in the marketing cycle with others being production, product pricing, and product promotion. Distribution involves the movement of products from the producer or manufacturer until it reaches the end users. During the distribution chain, as the product leaves the manufacturing location, it goes to a wholesaler or distributor who then distributes it to a retailer. The retailer finally takes it to the end user at their location which has foot traffic. The retailer has identified themselves as being a convenience store, grocery store, big box store, and or a specialty market store. The convenience store is the focus for this article but most of the same logic applies.
When focusing on the C Store trade, you have to first identify that your product and brand goes with the logic of the store. If you were in a rush and grabbing gas or a quick snack, then would you purchase your product at that time is the logic we are talking about. Candy, Tobacco, Drinks, and other fast need items are the staples of the convenience store industry. Another key trait is can your product be a traffic draw or is it dependent on the foot traffic. Lottery tickets are a traffic draw for example. Not many items fit into that category as they are normally staple brands and have a mass following.
Distributors and wholesalers are only the middle men in the transactions. Your first call should be selling your product to distributors, which you can find on our home page. Once you are off that first call you will understand why we came up with Check Stand Program. The key for the distributor is that your product moves, in other words, it does them no good to purchase the product unless they can sell it multiple times and not worry about having it spoil or not sell. The logic starts with the stores themselves. They have so much money wrapped up in their square footage that they have to have a profit per square foot inside. There is an infinite number of products and brokers calling on them to sell them products. The only thing they need to be convinced is previous sales experience.
Previous sales experience comes directly from the fact that you have X number of stores that sell X number of units per month. Why are we talking about the distributors and yet talking about the stores? There are several different transactions and types of stores. Let’s take a moment and explain those relationships first.
Take for example the convenience store Sheetz.
Sheetz now has more than 400 locations across six states — Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina — and more than 13,600 employees. All Sheetz stores are company-owned-and-operated. The company has no plans to sell franchises.
Sheetz has a few distributors. These distributors, even if they purchased your product could not guarantee entry into that particular store. Most of the larger franchise or chain stores have a buyer and a process for becoming a new product in their locations. This normally involves a slotting fee.
A slotting fee, slotting allowance, pay-to-stay, or fixed trade spending is a fee charged to produce companies or manufacturers by supermarket distributors (retailers) in order to have their product placed on their shelves. The fee varies greatly depending on the product, manufacturer, and market conditions. For a new product, the initial slotting fee may be approximately$25,000 per item in a regional cluster of stores, but may be as high as $250,000 in high-demand markets.
In addition to slotting fees, retailers may also charge promotional, advertising and stocking fees. According to an FTC study, the practice is “widespread” in the supermarket industry. Many grocers earn more profit from agreeing to carry a manufacturer’s product than they do from actually selling the product to retail consumers. According to retailers, fees serve to efficiently allocate scarce retail shelf space, help balance the risk of new product failure between manufacturers and retailers, help manufacturers signal private information about potential success of new products, and serve to widen retail distribution for manufacturers by mitigating retail competition. Vendors charge that slotting fees are a move by the grocery industry to profit at their suppliers’ expense.
Some companies argue that slotting fees are unethical as they create a barrier to entry for smaller businesses that do not have the cash flow to compete with large companies. The use of slotting fees can, in some instances, lead to abuse by retailers such as in the case where a bakery firm was asked for a six figure fee to carry its items for a specific period with no guarantee their products would be carried in future periods.
That buyer will normally ask for the slotting fee, free first product, and will tell you who they would like to be the distributor. The difference is that some of these major chains let the manager choose a few items to buy on a regional basis. This process normally involves a regional manager and item approval. You will probably have to deliver as a D.S.D. item and placing a restock as demand needs. They will review your item every three months and if you ever run out then you will never hear the end of it. Little Debbie, Bon Appetite, and Frito Lays are delivered D.S.D. and it is a great option if you can economically support it.
DSD is used effectively for full truckload orders where bypassing distribution centers makes economic sense. DSD is also a favored approach when there is a strong requirement for supplier knowledge or service such as is the case with greeting cards for example. Having said this, there is pressure building up in the food supply chain to reduce the retailer’s reliance on DSD and push more volume through centralized distribution channels
The distributors to start with normally have a lot more “mom and pop” convenience stores. These are a franchise that is owned locally by one person or a group. They normally own less than one hundred stores in total. Many are one store operator/owners. Convenience Store Distributors that have their route made up mainly of these type of stores can grow your product distribution much faster than going with the Chain Stores.
One reason these distributors can help you so much is that they will employ an edge for you. They are usually having to sell the owner on products and has a relationship with them. It is a smaller circle of people so easier to penetrate with your product. This focus on growing your product doesn’t mean it is easy though. The product still has to turn and that means that the product will have to have marketing, sales support, customer education, and a great product. Convenience Store Distributors are just one piece to the puzzle. The puzzle has to complete or you will not get reorders.
One thing you will start to hear and you will probably gripe about at some point is the “Big Boys.” The larger companies that have been around and gained distribution and have deep pockets. These companies represent over eighty percent of the space you are competing for. They own the floor space, have rebate programs for the distributor and store, have a direct sales staff or core team of brokers to sell and educate about their products, and they have a mega marketing plan. They constantly have new spins on products and promotions. They also have the entire process backed up with in store specials, posters, commercials, sponsorships, celebrity endorsements, and many other value added reasons to participate in their product and brands direction. Don’t get mad but really learn from what they are doing. Know you have an uphill battle and take smart steps in synergizing your campaigns to market.
Some of THE BIG BOYS…
The first-ever CSNews Supplier Excellence Awards winners are:
• Marketing & Advertising Excellence: Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.
• Partnership Relationship With Retailers: The Hershey Co.
• Effectiveness of In-Store Promotions & Merchandising Displays: Mars Inc.
• New Product Innovation: NJOY
• Speed to Market: Monster Beverage Corp.
• Best Order Fulfillment of On-Time & Complete Deliveries: PepsiCo Inc.
Read on to see what retailers had to say about this year’s top suppliers
— Don Longo
So the larger convenience store distributors, such as McLane, are really only trucks. They have a sells team but they are order takers for large brands. The company doesn’t want it only that way but demand drives it that way. These hard working sells reps only have time to make sure the big brands are filled and the high turning items are stocked. Then the new promotions from the already successfully turning items have to reviewed and presented. Then if time allows with the few accounts they can they can upsell the new up and coming brand. Fiscally it makes sense for the company and they do a wonderful and great job promoting and distributing to retail giants and chain stores by keeping everyone happy. So make sure you know who your target is. Find out who the core market is for that convenience store distributor and make sure your product can withstand the movement needed for their stores along with the sales support needed to be developed and implemented.
McLane is an American supply chain services company, providing grocery and foodservice supply chain solutions for convenience stores, mass merchants, drug stores and military locations and chain restaurants throughout the United States. McLane is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and is its single largest non-insurance business.
There is heated competition for accounts across the C Store distributors industry. These distributors are constantly trying to chisel away at each other. This is great when your product gets some proven movement because it is the driving factor why every wholesaler and distributor has their eyes and ears open for the next five hour energy, chip brand, or fast moving consumer goods.
Fleming, the grocery distributor, said yesterday that it had won a contract to supply 114 convenience stores for ConocoPhillips in five states.
To sum it up. Product and demand are the major factors in the buying decisions of any good wholesaler, distributor, buyer, chain store, retail store, outlet, regional franchise, and or anyone in this industry. The major buying decisions of a Convenience Store Distributor are made as a business that has to reap a profit. Understand their business, each one is different, but there are certain categories to understand of the distributors. Look for wholesalers and distribution that makes sense for your brand and what stage of development you are in. When you are ready to start the process make sure you are ready. Look at the adversity you are going to face and be ready for it. Not all days are going to result in a closed sale. You have to just “kick the can” every day and make sure you are moving it forward. The forward progress will pay off in the long run if you have the right product.
Good Luck, Check out the directory of stores, directory of distributors, and the check stand program for ways to get your product moving the right direction today.
Locating and Who Are Convenience Store Brokers and How They Can Start Selling Your Products
Many of you might be wondering what the meaning and role of Convenience Store Brokers. These brokers have a wealth of knowledge and normally have the contacts that you so desperately need when starting out in order to get your product into retail outlets, stores, chains, and in front of the buyers, distributors, and wholesalers. A unique company called the Checkstand Program www.checkstandprogram.com uses a broker/service model that you should take a look at. They guarantee to get your product into anywhere from 200-5,000 convenience stores instantly. Not to get off topic, but you will need to be ready with a full sales presentation to sell the broker when you contact them. You will also have to understand the business model of a broker. Gaining an understanding of what the broker faces and how you can assist them is vital as your role with the broker continues past the first conversation.
When discussing the distribution channel some of the commonly used description terms are:
A convenience store, corner store, or corner shop, is a small store that stocks a range of everyday items such as groceries, toiletries, alcoholic and soft drinks, tobacco products, and newspapers
Direct sales: This indicates that the sales are of the company is handled by its own sales force.
Representatives: They are independent contractors who promote the Company’s line. In order to justify the direct salesperson, they will carry the product lines to the places where sales volume is not large. Usually the reps do not take the title on the product and work on 5 – 20 percent commission.
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. They contact customers, explain product features, answer any questions that their customers may have, and negotiate prices.
Private label: In this private label, the product will be made by a company and it will be sold to another company. That sold product will be marketed by the company which buys it and it will sell the product in its own brand name.
Brokers: The brokers are very similar to reps but are independent from a company they are serving and they receive the commission for the product sold. Brokers mainly concentrate towards buyers rather than sellers. The rep will not be having wide range of competition since he will be dealing with different products but the broker will be having many competitors since he will be dealing with narrow range of the products. If you are looking for a list of convenience store brokers, you should check out www.cstoredistributors.com as they provide a list of over 2,000 c store brokers with their directory.
Using a Broker
Many small companies decide to hire a food broker to sell the product into stores. The broker is a contract sales representative and besides conducting the sales many brokers offer a wide range of services, for a fee, to their principles. As a rule, brokers are not responsible for the shipping, invoicing or inventory control of products at the store level. The broker’s role is to make the sale, represent the “line” to the retailer and assist on the “pull” of the products at retail.
Pros and Cons – Brokers
Specialty retail distributors: They are the distributor who serves for the smaller markets like bike shops or baby stores. These are the distributors who take the title of a particular product and promote it. They usually carry a lot of products from a product oriented inventor companies. In most of the distribution plans of inventor companies’, they are the key component.
Trade distributors: Normally these distributors deal with the tradesmen versus consumer or industrial oriented accounts. Some of the distributors are: wood products distributors, auto parts distributors and plumbing distributors.
Wholesalers: They serve as a distribution point between the manufacturer and their customers. Wholesalers do not provide the promotion and services. Usually they do not carry the products from an inventor since they purchase large stocks of the product.
Some companies which are not having enough sales will choose the representatives. These reps help in growth of sales of that particular product.
You might be aiming for Target, but big-box retailers want to see a track record. Online sales are one way to provide evidence that your product can sell. Another is to take it to small stores, maybe even stores where you shop.
Brokers’ contacts and their past experience is a great way to judge if they can show success with your product. Many brokers will only represent a product that has a national account or charge a huge retainer monthly. This is a common requirement with many of the larger broker agencies. You may have to piece together many brokers and independent reps in order to get started.
Common requirement is a huge retainer or a national account:
SALES: Typical start-up sales retainer programs start at $6-7,000 per month for business development–They can negotiate this rate for more or less accounts to fit your needs and budget.
You will need your brokers and sales reps to become brand ambassadors. They will need to educate everyone they come in contact with about your upside and why you will be distribution successful. This is a vision and without it your brokers will perish.
Reps and brokers have very challenging and ever-changing roles. If all goes well, they are unsung heroes, with the brands, distributors and retailers all enjoying good sales, growing happy customers and appreciating the role that each played in making sales. If, however, things aren’t going well, the reps and brokers become scapegoats, the ones who let the others down and caused problems.
Finding the right broker: What to do when you start looking…
If you have the contacts from our lists, which you get when you purchased them, then you are ahead of these previous steps. You don’t have to put in the countless hours to find the right contacts and then see if the information you have is correct.
Brokers are looking for items to represent. They look for items that can be sold to the distributors, stores, wholesalers that they already have a relationship with. They look for items that turn regularly, have a good story, and are a great product. You must solve the problems in sales while your product is on the shelf. The broker is not there to solve that, they are there to supply you with purchase orders to get it to the shelves. This is a valuable point and I hope you get it.
How to find Convenience Store Brokers and distributors? This is the process we went through as we sold distributors to develop our directory of convenience store distributors, convenience store brokers, and other valuable contacts.
Step 1: First thing you need to do is that look for a trade shows, trade associations and magazines. You will find the trade associations and magazines even by searching in internet. You can refer Gale’s Research Directory of Broadcast and Magazines media and Gale Research Encyclopedia Association since these two directories will be having a wide groups even for the smallest magazines and trade associations. Once you find them, you must visit their site and look for the manufacturer’s distributors and representatives.
Step 2: List of manufacturers available in the industry should be made into a list. This list can be found in the trade magazines and association websites. If you visit the websites you will get to know more about list of exhibitors. On the website look into the SIC codes of different companies. Based on the SIC codes make a list of different companies of the industry.
Step 3: After visiting the website you will be getting a list of manufactures representatives and a list of distributors. A number of the companies will be searching for the distributors or representatives. Look for the companies which like to market you products. Once you find, now you will have enough volume when combined together which will entice the manufacturing reps or the distributors to carry the products.
Convenience Store Brokers are a great resource for any business looking to move in the convenience store arena. These brokers have contacts with the distributors, store buyers, and other useful resources. They are normally specializing in one class and trade such as tobacco or candy. Many are firms that have merged over the years in order to represent more lines and be able to handle the needed administrative task in a batching format. They batched all the paperwork into one company instead of three companies doing the same thing.
CAROL STREAM, Ill. — Three of the top regional convenience store brokers are joining forces to form the National Alliance Network (NAN), which will offer regional coverage on a national basis
Saverino & Associates, Total Convenience Marketing and KC Krafts–three regional convenience industry brokers–have come together to form a sales network to bring a “new way of doing business in the convenience store channel,” they have announced.
When you are looking to gain access to an account or market, a great place to see how hard it will be is to contact the distributors and brokers in that area and find out what the market is like. Ask them what it would take and what are you seeing. Be inquisitive.
Good luck in your sells and feel free to ask us any questions and maybe we can help you at 888-439-6468