Manufacturing consumer products has become increasingly easier with technology advances in the creation, communication, and capital-seeking process that makes up part of the retail process. Is it easy? No. The fact is that international markets are increasingly coming together to compete for the same or similar customers.
Particularly in the U.S. market where the spotlight/target is often placed for prospective manufacturers, the competition is fierce for many. Blue-tooth, audio, housewares, outdoor goods, you name it.
Of course, competition is nothing new, it’s a constant part of our lives. In the world of retail (online & offline) the room for being too similar or not being marketable is very thin. Selling on price alone and not making an effort to help drive in-store sales simply won’t cut it if you’re looking to grow long-term.
So, what specifically can you do to help survive the difficult “filter” as a manufacturer with products ready to sell?
Stop Saying “Yes” to Everyone!
When your business is relatively new to retail, it can seem like a good idea to start selling to everyone and anyone who wants to purchase. Probability is you’re hanging on to dear life in terms of finances.. so why shouldn’t you?
Expanding too quickly – either online or offline – can be a significant risk to your supply reliability, brand, price control, and time to manage. Would you rather spend several hours a week with 3 quality distributors that perform well or spend tens of hours a week with 30 that are all over the place in terms of communication, quality, and performance?
Limiting your approved resellers/channels also creates desire with those channels as well as with other channels you may want to get into for the future. You’ll also likely drive more sales within those select channels thus portraying a better return on investment for future retail buyers.
How do YOU stand out?
One of the key components of being successful over your competitors is how you stand out to consumers and buyers. This is really where the creative side comes into your marketing strategy and it depends widely on your product & brand message.
It all comes back to Seth Godin’s Purple Cow in terms of being different and drawing the right kind of attention towards your offerings. Sure there’s emails, promotions, in-store displays, but without a creative/experienced person behind those efforts you’re likely just another drop in the sea of products begging for attention.
In general, there are best practices to follow – things like adhering to your customer feedback, quality assurance, regular newsletters, etc. But again, who cares? Customers already expect you to be up-to-par for many of these qualities. You need to be engaging your audience in a way that causes your message to hit home with your target customers.
They may forget what you said — but they will never forget how you made them feel.
—Carl W. Buehner
Perhaps all of this is no surprise to you. Often times it’s a matter of affordability and finding the right solution for your retail marketing activities. I’m sure if you had an extra hundred thousand dollars for marketing you would be able to test most methods and find what works for you.. but many companies don’t have that luxury.
Does your pricing strategy cover growth?
Your pricing strategy involves more than simply creating enough margin for the retailer or distributor and yourself to stay afloat. Plus there are many “hidden” costs in retail and potential for things to go wrong – from a sell-through and logistics perspective. Does your pricing model allow you to recover after these potential losses or unexpected dips in sales?
For many products within a competitive market there are different levels of quality or perhaps different offerings all together to cater to consumers with a variety of incomes. Does your price reflect the type of consumer you wish to attract, and how does your price fit in with competitor offerings?
Many newer manufacturers also don’t account for marketing costs within the margins that they receive from sales. Competing on price alone isn’t a good idea, so in a lot of ways it comes down to your ability to reach more consumers and push sales online & offline with promotions, displays, sales incentives, etc.
Everybody wants more sales, more channels, and their products placed across the U.S. but these direct sales are only half of the retail puzzle. The other half of this puzzle is creating consistent sell-through within your channels for long-term growth & repeat purchase orders.
While many manufacturers I speak with believe they have a good strategy in place, with many not having hands-on retail experience there are often things unaccounted for. One thing that we do very well here at Retailbound is create a full-perspective, lean strategy to grow in retail as well as ensure sell-through with retailers & distributors.
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