Launching your product successfully in retail takes proper planning. In my 20+ years in retail, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to product launches in retail stores.

In today’s economic environment, companies cannot afford any missteps, and on key product launches, the stakes are even greater. From customization requirements from a retailer to the sheer volume of shipping products, a rock-solid logistics solution with your 3rd Party Logistics Provider (3PL) is definitely needed!

Logistical Nightmares

Planning your product launch logistics is not an easy task. It’s easy to lose sleep, especially for large product launches in retail stores. For large product launches, manufacturers have several logistical obstacles to overcome:

  • Hundreds or thousands of units need to ship to several retail locations in days.
  • Retailers may demand customized product packaging with labels that match their internal systems (ie. Brookstone Airport stores wanted their internal part number for the specific product listed on the manufacturer’s retail box).
  • Shipping late, to the wrong warehouse, under or over shipping the purchase order, etc…could lead to fines assessed by the retailer.

Tips for Successful Retail Product Launches

3PLs offer tremendous benefits that help manufacturers get products to the retail market. In developing an outsourced retail logistics solution, manufacturers must ensure that a truly collaborative environment exists with their logistics partners.

The following checklist can help manufacturers generate the best results from their logistics providers, while establishing a seamless operation for launch day.

1. Collaboration. Hold pre-planning sessions with your logistics partner to clearly outline the launch services required and identify performance expectations and ROI measurements. Collaborative communication will maximize supply chain and logistics performance.

2. Transportation and Staff Planning. Ensure your logistics partner is negotiating the best possible transportation carrier services and rates based on your needs, as well as mobilizing staff for pre-launch ramp up.

3. Technology. Explore opportunities for systems integration with your third-party logistics provider to enhance supply chain visibility. Whether it’s EDI or an integrated web solution, technology can automate the process and give manufacturers and retailers the intelligence they need for monitoring and future planning.

4. Partner Communication. Maintain communication to keep all parties apprised of developments. Manufacturers should discuss production status; logistics providers should provide an update on systems and staffing progress.

5. Tracking. Establish systems to guarantee orders are properly tracked for retailers. If a problem occurs, your customers will want immediate information and resolution.

6. Returns. Establish a reverse logistics solution that provides the best service to retail customers, yet remains cost effective for your business.

7. Reporting. Solidify the reporting processes for proof of delivery on launch day. Make sure your 3PL can deliver the information you need to keep your customers happy and your products where they need to be.

Looking for a great 3PL partner? Retailbound can introduce you to a number of vetted 3PLs for your next product launch. Contact us at for more information.