Kian Golzari joins us to talk about getting your Amazon products into retail stores. We cover networking with buyers, the negotiations and tricks to use, choosing the right partner and how to get attention the right way making buyers lives easier so you rise to the top in a very crowded space of uber-keen Sellers.
When is a seller ready?
1. First decide if you are ready and if you want to supply big retailers. Consider that when supplying one of the big retailers you may need to hold onto a lot of stock, finance the entire order, ship order to customer on 90 days credit, all liability of returns or cancellations is on you and you need to pass all their strict testing requirements.
Product market fit to the retailer?
2. Remember when you work with a retailer you are just trying to convince the buyer that they should stock your product, remember that every buyer is different and likes to work in different ways. How you reach out to them may be through multi-channels, linkedin, email, phonecalls, text etc.
Is a story important?
3. Tell your story to them – 1. Who you are 2. Why you’re successful and 3. Why you’ll be successful for that retailer.
How different are the negotiations from one store to another?
4. Consider that all stores are not the same, Bed, Bath and Beyond are way different to Wal-Mart, their pricing, customers, products, packaging will all be different and you must adapt yourself to that retailers needs.
Networking with buyers?
5. Get to know the buyer, understand what is their objective, what do they need, how do they work. Do your research, buyers are very busy people with many products to look after, if you can do as much of their job for them as possible they will be much more inclined to work with you. Research the website and more importantly go into the store, see what they are selling, how much is it, look at the range as a whole, pitch to them currently you are selling X, Y and Z but you’re missing A, B and C which are proven big sellers. In store take photos of the range they are currently selling and identify where your product fits in and how that then forms the overall story of the range. If your product doesn’t fit in their range then propose a product that does, something they are missing.
Making life easy for the buyer?
6. Once you take photos of the shelf display, make illustration drawings of your product on shelf so the buyer can visualise how your product will look in store and they will appreciate the efforts you have gone to not only come up with the product and price but also do their job of showing how it will look in store.
How do you choose the right retail partners?
7. Don’t always push your product; push what’s right for them. If you push something that doesn’t sell then you’ve lost their trust and they won’t value your opinion when you go back to suggest more products. It’s really important to listen to the buyer and satisfy their needs. Ask them what’s working for them in their categories and what products are not working anymore, what are your challenges as a retailer, you want as colourful as a picture as you can get, but remember you only get so much time with a buyer so don’t take up their time with needless questions
It’s your job to fit for the retailer, not the retailer to fit for your products.
Getting their attention in a sea of emails?
9. Remember these retailers get emailed everyday with constant pitches and it can be overwhelming for them, we are in an era of email oversaturation – think how many emails did you receive today? Buyers are 10x worse. Therefore get straight to the point, don’t paint this massive beautiful email of your history and personal journey, they don’t care. Stand out by being important, offer something of value to them and make sure your message is clean and focused.
Best relationships I’ve seen have been multi-channel such as phonecalls, emails, sending samples, hand written notes, and if you have the relationship then text as well but that’s quite rare. Everyone’s different, all buyers don’t think the same way so you have to communicate with them on the channel that best suits them.
Buyers also get rotated quite frequently such as every 6 months so you don’t want to put a lot of emphasis in building up a relationship then a few months later they are now the pet food buyer and you have a new contact.
LICENSES ARE A GREAT STRATEGY TO GET INTO RETAILERS AND RETAIL STORES,
Best thing about a license is that it opens doors?
Whether you have star wars, marvel, Disney, nba, nfl – there’s an established market of people who desire those goods so you’re paying to have reputable brands build up your business, it’s almost like a marketing cost.
What are the key Challenges?
it’s a big responsibility because you’ve been entrusted with these licenses to represent them with your quality manufacturing, it’s also quite costly,
Partner with NBA teams, represent each team and each team has their own approval process, need to factor in through your development cycle
Once you have the license you also have to create the distribution, you have the perfect product and price but now it’s on you to get it into the retailers
Your also under the clock as licenses are paid every year, so that’s a lot of pressure to bring in a certain amount of sales within a year to cover your licensing costs
What are the Benefits?
opens a lot of doors with retailers you probably couldn’t have got a meeting with before, so can turbocharge a business if you have a unique idea, also allows you to supply that retailer with other products you may have in your range.
A good strategy would to have a proof of concept that the product sells and you have sales channels set up, then you can add license logos to increase your sales volume, also make sure it’s a license that makes sense for you, if you’re selling beer bottle holders then the Disney license doesn’t make any sense
Is licensing for everyone?
Think would having a license for your product be a game changer for your business and the consumer purchasing it?
There’s only a select number of licensees so they’re not looking for another company to do the same thing, they’re looking for unique opportunities, make sure you position your product as a unique opportunity
Need to put a business plan together and show why is it a unique opportunity for these licensors, has to be something that nobody else is doing, some licenses are exclusive, if you go to the NBA and say I want to do coffee mugs well there’s already plenty of partners doing mugs for them, you have to create something unique for them.
Financially you have to be ready to sign up for the licensing model, you have to be sure you can make your investment into minimum guarantees back before going into it.
How do you get licenses?
They want to see you have a solid business infrastructure with good accounts to make sure you can finance their business and have the proper team in place to run the business of a licensee and a good accounting department so you can report royalties, you also have to have a lot of money for insurance as you’re now liable for their brand and if anything goes wrong you need to be able to cover it
Similar as finding a retailer to find a license owner, use linked in, make phonecalls, send letters, it’s not easy but persistence pays off until you get to a size where they contact you.
Being good at the licensing game allows you to get other licenses as well, we’ve been approached by Nascar, FC Barcelona saying whatever you do for the NBA and who you sell it to, also do it for us and get us into those stores too, because those licenses don’t necessarily have a relationship with the retailer but we do.
Are you ready?
- Make the decision if you are ready to supply one of these major retail stores
- You have to stand 180 days credit which is a massive financial burden
- All the liabilities, returns, cancellations are on you
- Very strict testing requirements on you
Product Market Fit with Big Retailer
- You are looking to convince the buyer to buy your product
- How you reach-out to these buyers is different for each, linkedin, email, phone calls, text messages
- Tell them who you are, what you’re a success for and why you’ll be successful for that retailer
- What is your unique value to them from you
- They get pitched every day with hundreds of products
- All stores are not the same
- Bed, Bath and Beyond are very different to Walmart
- Pricing, customers, products and packaging are all different
- You need to adapt yourself to their needs
- Go into the store and take photos then illustrate how your product will look in the store
- Do their job for them and show them how you are better than what they are stocking to help them make the decision easier for them
- Convince them that they are dealing with specialists and professionals
Networking with Buyers
- Sometimes it’s a twenty-something hipster buyer, other times it’s a sixty year old buyer
- Go to their stores and see what they are selling
- Offer them what they are missing and show why your product fits for them
- Buyers are placed in a position of responsibility
- Buyers are often switched every three months between categories to mix relationships up
- Important to keep those relationships good as they pass on your details to the next buyer
- You can often come across them again in the future
- Buyers can make you miserable sometimes, keep it together
Choosing the right Retail Stores Partner
- You might be doing one or 5 products
- They must fit you and your product
- If you push something to them that doesn’t sell then it will kill the relationship
- Plus if it doesn’t sell it comes back to you as well! If size of your business can’t deal with not being able to sell in that platform – what do you do?
Getting their Attention
- Remember they get emailed everyday
- With constant pitches and over-email saturation
- Get straight to the point
- Don’t send a massive email with lots of history and your journey
- Keep it clean and focussed
- Best relationships are multi-channel
- Use email, social, send samples, hand written notes to get attention
Licencing as a strategy
- Good for getting meetings you wouldn’t have got without it
- Getting the London 2012 Olympics licence was a big door opener to speak with retail stores Argos, Tescos, Sainsburys
- Very difficult to get without the licence
- 1st Half of meeting is about the Licenced products and then by the way we also offer camping and outdoors products
- Retailers started with trial orders and moved on from there
- Went from a five to a six and then a seven figure business
- The types of licences you can get are varied
- You are being trusted with their identity and can be costly
- You have to produce products to quality standards
- You might have the perfect product and price but you als no need the distribution
- Also, annually you need to meet your licencee commitment to pay the licence fees each year
- So you must ensure your sales are made on the clock throughout which can be an added pressure
- Opens a lot of doors to retailers it might have been difficult to get before
- It can turbo-boost your business with that logo on your product that already works
- The massive fan-base can massively amplify your sales
- Ideally you have the POC and product setup and the sales channels and distribution in place already
- Then adding the licence just boosts it
- Make sure the licence makes sense for you – beer bottle holders won’t benefit from a Disney licence