The beginning of the year is an exciting time in retail to showcase a new product. Many of our clients experience a lot of momentum during their product launches during Q1 and at trade shows like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Today’s blog addresses the “elephant in the room” for many consumer product companies – which is that the beginning of the year is one of the best times to launch your product into retail.
Retail buying cycles for spring, summer, and fall occur for many retail channels at this time. This means if you haven’t started developing your go-to-retail strategy, then you should seriously consider starting very soon!
We speak with small product manufacturers & startups every day who are looking at Q1 to start nailing down retailer or distributor partnerships. Some will succeed, some won’t. Some will only survive, while others see long-term incremental retail growth. It all depends on how you prepare during this crucial time of the year (September into December).
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Since most new consumer products are looking to launch at the same time, you need to differentiate yourself from others. We are not talking about product features or benefits (although this can have a big impact too). We are talking about making sure you’re 100% retail-ready internally.
Understanding the retail process, setting up 3PL logistics, packaging & pricing models, buyer presentation materials, and the list goes on.
Retailers love new products. What they don’t love is having to hold your hand the whole time. Product startups almost always underestimate the amount of preparation work required to fully be retail ready. Most startups know about the packaging, pricing, and other obvious tasks; however, they often forget about back-end programs, post-sales processes, and other less-obvious preparation tasks.
Time and time again it boils down to the phrase, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. And when you’re thrusting your business’s future towards a product launch… you want to know as much as you possibly can.
Turning Preparation into Reality
To be clear, being 100% retail-ready doesn’t just mean having your strategy and internal structure ready to go. Part of being successful depends on you fostering relationships and connections prior to your launch at a trade show, online, or presenting to retailers. Similar to crowdfunding. If you can’t convert the right contacts into purchase orders then you’ve just wasted a lot of time.
At the end of the day, knowing which sales channels are most appropriate or having a compelling products doesn’t mean anything without execution. Execution of all aspects of retail… not just earning the purchase order.
After establishing retail partners you still need to promote end-consumer within those channels, or you risk dying a quick retail death.
Showcasing at a trade show (i.e. CES) doesn’t mean you’ll earn new business. Just like getting into a retail store – online or offline – you need to really work the newfound foot traffic. You can’t expect to passively sit at a booth and expect buyers to be excited about your new product, just like you can’t expect your product to sit on a shelf and have good sell-through rates.
Give yourself enough time to become 100% retail-ready and/or find someone with retail experience to prepare you more effectively.
Don’t take anything for granted during your product launch. Think about the retailer or distributor’s perspective in establishing some initial interest and conversation.