As always, the goal for my posts is to write about topics that manufacturers and product-based businesses just like you are having problems with. Speaking with manufacturers and their frustrations not only educates me but now it can educate you too!
Today`s topic deals with the long-term persistence and retail strategy that must exist in order to be successful in retail. Especially as a manufacturer with only one or two products.
A lot of manufacturers imagine the process of selling to retailers – large and small -to be straight-forward and feasible within a few months as long as the product is good and they have selling materials ready. This concept however is false.

Retailers don`t buy from 1 SKU Vendors

If you`re a small manufacturer or inventor with only one or two different product, it can be near impossible to sell to retailers or distributors. It takes a lot of time and effort from the retailer to manage and communicate with each vendor, and when
you only have one product it means they`re spending time on only a fraction of the store`s items that you represent.
Establishing a solid sales history is essential before approaching retailers with your item – especially the larger retailers. Many new manufacturers or inventors will start selling online and work their way up one step at a time until they have effectively created some revenue and sales history required to make retail a reasonable proposition.

Sales Reps don`t like selling for 1 SKU Vendors

Starting small for many manufacturers means hiring sales reps on commission to avoid salary and benefit payments. While this may be a good idea, if your product isn`t extraordinary or if you only have one kind of item it can be hard to find quality sales reps.
It isn`t difficult to find sales reps who will try to sell products; however, quality ones who will actually open up new accounts usually don`t waste time with one SKU vendors.
If you´re in this situation then selling to retail can seem pretty bleak. If you`re in this situation perhaps this even means that you should stick to online sales instead. Of course you shouldn`t just give up though…

What is a small manufacturer to do?!

It`s true that being the little guy can be extremely tough in the competitive and cut-throat world of retail. Success depends on the product, but it also depends on your overall strategy.
Here are some issues you may be unknowingly having:

  • Targeting the wrong buyers
  • Product pricing may be off for offline
  • No long-term retail strategy
  • Sales pitch may not be addressing buyer`s needs
  • Unproven supply chain or sales history

There could be any number of causes why offline sales just aren`t happening for you and your business – usually putting yourself in the shoes of the retailer or buyer will help you improve your sales strategy and targeting strategy.
For new manufacturers and inventors – and even established manufacturers – finding some outside perspective can help save you time and money in marketing and sales efforts. Try and find quality retail experts who have expertise in your industry and have helped other similar companies.
I hope this post hasn`t left you completely demoralized with offline sales, but it is important to understand how retailers and even sales reps might view you as the “little guy”.
If you`re a smaller manufacturer or inventor feel free to comment or share your own challenges, stories, and experiences of trying to sell offline. Everyone can learn from peoples`past mistakes.