Are you a small product brand who’s trying to figure out how to sell to Target? If so, you’re not alone.
Target is a huge retailer, which is why thousands of brands attempt to get their products in the company’s stores every year. In the end, only a handful of vendors will cross the finish line and be placed on Target’s shelves.
Why do some brands make the cut while others are, well, cut? To answer this question, you need to understand the thinking of retail executives. Here’s what you need to know.
Reasons Brands Aren’t Invited to Sell in Target
When you’re competing against hundreds or thousands of brands, you need to understand why some companies don’t make the cut. Here are some reasons businesses aren’t seeing their products on Target’s shelves:
- Lack of mass-market appeal. Buyers don’t want to be the guinea pig for companies that haven’t tested their products on the market. If you don’t have a track record of sales, you’re less likely to be attractive to big-box stores such as Target.
- Poor sales presentation. Buyers such as Target don’t appreciate vendors coming into sales pitches unprepared. They see this as a waste of their time and, if you’re unprepared, it will be a waste of your time too.
- Ineffective packaging. If your packaging doesn’t communicate what the product offers to the consumer, your unprofessional packaging design will likely leave you dead in the water before you even get started.
- Incorrect suggested retail price. You need to make sure you’re not overestimating (or underestimating) how much Target will pay for your products, especially when you consider how much their consumers will be willing to pay.
Understanding Target’s Vendor Requirements
Before you can successfully sell your product to Target, it’s crucial to understand their vendor requirements. These requirements can vary depending on the type of product you’re selling and the market or vertical in which you operate.
- High-quality products: Target prioritizes product quality and affordability to its customers. As a vendor, you need to demonstrate that you can produce products that meet Target’s quality standard and still be cost-effective.
- Safety and compliance: Target has strict requirements for the safety and compliance of the products it sells at its outlets. This includes requirements for materials, labeling, packaging, and other aspects of product design. So, make sure you follow them for your product category.
- Reliable supply chain: Since Target is such a huge retail chain, it relies on a global network of suppliers to meet the needs of its customers. So, as a vendor, you need to demonstrate that you have a reliable and consistent supply chain that can meet the company’s demand for products.
- Competitive pricing: Target is known for offering great prices to its customers. If you want to be a vendor at Target and do business with them, it is important that you offer competitive pricing, while maintaining quality.
- Strong customer service: A robust customer service is at the core of Target. They expect their vendors to value and provide excellent customer service by responding timely and accurately to concerns or complaints.
Do You Need to Contact Target’s Merchandising Manager?
The short answer is no.
In today’s world, you don’t need to reach Target’s merchandising contact to find your brand on the stores’ shelves. Target offers potential vendors an online portal that comes complete with an online application. Be mindful, however, that there are specific rules you need to adhere to before Target will consider featuring your brand in its stores.
Within Target’s terms of service, you’ll find all the rules you’re expected to follow. This includes certain social compliance standards, product safety and quality assurance standards that all featured businesses must meet. You’ll be expected to meet a strict set of labor and human rights policies. For instance, ensure that your products aren’t created from sweatshops in third-world countries that exploit workers. Be prepared to undergo a thorough responsible sourcing audit when you complete your application to be a Target vendor.
Understanding Target’s Systems
Target will not allow you to be a vendor if you cannot accept electronic funds transfers with the company’s AP team, especially if you’re a domestic partner. You’ll be required to use electronic data interchanges to receive purchase orders. If you’re not able to do so, you’ll likely be out of the running before you even get going.
Target doesn’t use paper purchase orders. In today’s world, the company operates electronically and expects its vendors to follow suit. Beyond electronic transfers, you should also consider joining Target’s drop-shipping program.
Approaching Target for Sales
Selling your products through Target may present some challenges as they have streamlined communication channels compared to other retailers when it comes to engaging with suppliers. However, there are still different ways to get in touch with them.
Ways to Connect
- Email: You can reach out to Target via official email. Make sure your email is professional, concise, and clearly states your purpose. Don’t forget to add a quick brief about your business and product offerings along with your contact details in the email.
- Vendor Websites: Present your product to them through the websites of their vendors. This can be a great way to get your product in front of the right people.
- Trade Shows and Industry Events: Target buyers often attend industry trade shows and other events, where you can meet them in person and pitch your product. Come prepared with a compelling pitch and product samples.
- Direct Contact: If you know the name and contact information for a specific Target buyer, you can try reaching out to them directly. Be respectful and professional in your approach.
Remember, patience and persistence are key when trying to get your product into a major retailer like Target. It may take time, but with the right approach and a high-quality product, you can succeed.
Becoming a Target Supplier
Fortunately, it’s as easy as it’s ever been to apply to be a Target supplier. Simply fill out an application on the company’s website, and Target’s merchandising team will review it and get back to you if they think you might be a good partner. Here are a few tips that can help you get your foot in the door:
- Network: Harness the powers of LinkedIn and cold calling, so merchandisers can get to know you and your company long before your application lands on their desks.
- Browse: Spend your free time browsing your local Target store and figuring out in which aisle your products might be placed. If you have the opportunity, talk to a manager and ask if he or she thinks there’s a place in the market for your items.
- Partner: Hire a brokerage partner who can help you pursue this challenge, which can otherwise seem quite daunting. Third-party companies can help take the stress out of the process and apply long-term, first-hand experience to your personal project.
Are You a Good Fit for Target?
Not everyone is a good fit for Target, but it’s always a good idea to gauge your level of suitability before you begin your application. Take a look at these suggestions before you dig any deeper into your application:
- Read Target’s Rules of Use, which explains the company’s expectations of you as a potential vendor
- Be mindful of the fact that Target requires vendors to adhere to responsible sourcing programs
- Understand Target’s Vendor Code of Conduct
- Make sure you can use EDI to receive purchase orders
- Have your certificate of insurance at your disposal, in case it’s requested
- Meet eligibility requirements for drop shipping
What Else Do You Need to Know to Sell to Target?
Now that you know the basics, here are a few other things to pay attention to:
Your social media platforms perform as digital business cards. The more pristine and professional they are, the better your brand will look to Target and other big-box retailers.
Take time to check in on your pages and make sure they’re updated. Be sure all the links work properly, that your profile is relevant and that you’re posting consistently (using keywords where appropriate).
Retail can be a whole different animal, especially if you’re used to selling solely through online channels. Your product needs to physically stand out on the shelf, so you’ll need to be a little creative with your packaging.
If you’re accepted into Target’s inventory, you should be ready to ramp up your production process right away. You need to understand what this will look like for your company and have a strategy in place, so you cover your new volume of sales.
You Can Do It!
If you have the right product at the right price with the right packaging, you could develop a great relationship with Target. However, if you need some assistance, turn to the experts at Retailbound. We have plenty of experience with large retailers, and we’ll be happy to help you succeed! Send us an email at email@example.com or call at 1-630-246-4068.
Experience the transformative power of launching your products in retail with our Retailbound Launch service. We’re here to simplify the process of selling to and working with retailers of all shapes and sizes. Our team, boasting over 170 years of combined experience in retail is dedicated to making your journey to retail success smoother and more efficient. With Retailbound Launch, you’re not just launching a product, you’re launching a brand.