In the era of Covid induced online shopping, many product startups are asking why bother selling to retail stores at all? They muse “Isn’t it just a matter of time before brick-and-mortar stores disappear and everything is digital?” and “Besides, I can just as easily sell directly to consumers from my website, with no middleman, and probably make more money”.

Well, not so fast. Yes, retail stores have been at the forefront of news due to the pandemic, but it might surprise you that despite nearly two years of restrictions, foot traffic last year for Black Friday was up 12.5% and total traffic up 7.6% since 2019. Yes, digital is the fastest growing retail channel, but it still only represents 5% of the market, whereas stores represent nearly 20%.

Selling on your website or Amazon are great ways to move product, but retail stores, catalogs, and even TV shopping networks still have significant advantages over online retail that product startups may want to think about.  

Here are three retail store benefits product startups don’t often consider:  

#1 – Immediate access to a target demographic: unlike selling online where you must market and advertise to get consumers, most retailers have already done the hard work for you. Gaining immediate access to your target market by piggybacking on the marketing of retailers not only saves time and money but frees you up to focus on product development and operations. And, if you negotiate for exclusivity, you can even have a captured audience – something you can’t do digitally.

#2 – When you sell on your website or Amazon you are responsible for everything: sales, marketing, product development, operations, finances and more. Scaling revenue is hard, and if you are like most startups, you typically don’t have the time or resources to do it all. Retail partners, however, allow you to penetrate new market segments, expand into new geographic regions, and scale product sales with nothing more than a purchase order. You must still support these sales of course, but by leveraging the built-in-reach of retailers, you have the time to focus on other parts of your operation.   

#3 – Credibility and greater online sales: there are few things, outside celebrity endorsement, that give young brand more gravitas than being in an established retail store. For consumers, its trust by association – i.e., if customers trust the store, they trust your product. Retailers are also one of the best ways to grow your online sales. For example, when consumers search for your product online and see its being sold at trusted retailers, they are more prone to choose your product over others; whether they buy it in stores, on Amazon, or on your website.  

So, in the end retail isn’t all bad. It isn’t for everyone, but it certainly isn’t dead. Far from it! And, if you’re a product startup with an innovative consumer product and thinking about your sales model, you should consider an omnichannel approach that includes all opportunities, even retail stores!   

Interested in getting your product startup in front of major retailers? Contact Robert Bruza, our Director of Business Development at to schedule a intro call.