Jump to Main Content
USA flagAn Official Website of the United States Government
Starting a Business

Blogs.Starting a Business


4 Tips for Getting Large Retailers to Stock Your Products

Comment Count:

Comments welcome on this page. See Rules of Conduct.

4 Tips for Getting Large Retailers to Stock Your Products

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: April 11, 2013

Have you ever wondered how you can get your businesses’ products stocked on the shelves of a large retailer?

It does happen, and it’s refreshing to see. For example, my local supermarket makes a point of stocking locally grown produce front and center as soon as you walk in the store, while other stores make a point of promoting the latest gadgets from small business inventors.

The truth is, retail buyers are always on the lookout for products that will appeal to their customers and complement their brand, but how do you find them and pitch your wares? Here are four tips!

1. Do Your Research – Find out What Retailers Are Looking For

Before you contact a buyer or work on your pitch, do your due diligence and ask yourself a few questions. What’s your niche? What retail stores represent a good fit for your brand (be objective about this one and put the buyer’s hat on for a moment)? Does your product complement the store’s existing product lines and add value to its image? What about your packaging – is it self-explanatory as to what your product is and does, does it stand out?

Certain buyers may be looking to stock merchandise from diverse vendors – local farmers, women- or veteran-owned businesses. Is this something you could take advantage of?

2. Get to Know the Buyers

You can often contact a buyer through a big retailer’s website; alternatively directories such as Chain Store Guide and The Salesman’s Guide include buyer listings across a wide breadth of industries. However, nothing beats making a direct in-person connection in the venues where buyers are on the lookout for new products. Trade shows and conferences (especially those sponsored by your target retailer), are a good place to start. Some larger retailers such as Walmart and Home Depot also host product review events and competitions where manufacturers get to pitch their wares directly to potential buyers.

3. Prepare Your Pitch

One of the most important considerations when preparing your pitch is not so much what your product is, but how it will complement the store’s existing product lines. You’ll also have to convince buyers that your product will sell (use market trends and your track history of online or smaller scale retail success to back-up your claims). Another important point to consider is the fact that you are a small business.  The buyer will want to know that you can scale to their needs and manage your supply chain.  Stress your qualities such as credibility, agility, or responsiveness. 

If you can, bring samples of your product and have enough on hand so that the buyer can hang onto them after your meeting.

4. Be Relentless and Ready!

It’s unlikely that one meeting will clinch a deal with a buyer, so be relentless in your follow-up. Likewise, be prepared to stand true to your business plan, if you think the retailer is selling your product cheap, step back and review your options. Other retailers may be more willing to give you the margins you need.

Look for ways to earn your buyer’s confidence, you need to demonstrate that you are ready to scale. Are there any areas you need to invest in before you make your pitch or sign on the dotted line. For example, investing in technology that will allow you to accept and process larger orders or better manage your inventory.

Check out these related blogs for more tips:




About the Author:

Caron Beesley


Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley


Our Convenience Store Distribution Checkstand Program allows you to get your product on the front counters of anywhere from 200 to 5,000 convenience stores instantly. Our program is designed to take your product and increase volume through testing and getting confirmation of sales on the launch. It is a great way to expand into convenience store market because you are actually gaining convenience store distributors and convenience stores while you test. The normal method of taking a product to market is to contact as many people as you can and hopefully make some sales. You try to build relationships and make thousands of calls to do so. When you run the Checkstand Program in 1,000 stores, we get your product into several convenience store distributors instantly. You have complete access to our c store distributors and you will have all of their contact information. You also get to leverage our relationships that we have with them. Why would someone take so many years to try and build something when they can have that same level of success inside a few short weeks? The cost is $10.00 dollars per store and a free display for each store that you test. We can distribute anywhere from 200 up to 5,000 convenience stores. Once we run the test with our convenience store distributors/stores and it is a success, we take the results and push it to all of our sales channels that include convenience store chains, convenience store distributors, dsd food and beverage distributors, convenience store brokers and convenience store rack jobbers throughout the U.S. We test with convenience store suppliers because they can reorder for more stores than the original test. When they find a product that sells and sells well, they will expand it out to their entire market. This increase in sales means larger purchase orders for you. This process works. When you sign up with us, you take advantage of the years we have spent building these relationships. We have placed multiple orders with our team through many different products. We can promote and find ways to grow your product within our team once we get the product selling on the retail shelves. For more information, please visit http://www.checkstandprogram.com and http://www.cstoredistributors.com
This is an awesome post. Thanks Caron! I completely agree with you about doing your research first. Buyer's love it when you 'walk' their stores first and really get a feel for what the buyer is purchasing. It shows that you are a serious vendor and it helps you with your pitch!
It does happen, and it’s refreshing to see. For example, my local supermarket makes a point of stocking locally grown produce front and center as soon as you walk in the store, while other stores make a point of promoting the latest gadgets from small business inventors.
Caron, YOu can always just email them and hope they respond!
Hey. Thanks for the informative post. I think that the first step is the most important one. If we do a good research we will succeed.
Hi Caron, Thanks for the post. I am curious however, do you feel that this is a growing trend? That is, larger retailers making more of an effort to promote local/regional products vs mass produced, outsourced goods? I feel like mid-sized retailers and regional retailers are making an effort to sell local or regional, but very large retailers have yet to adopt the practice. What do you think?
I think many larger retailers recognize that their consumers are increasingly looking to support local, small business owners in as many ways as they can. By stocking locally-derived goods (particularly in the food and beverage sector), larger retailers can both demonstrate their commitment to the community and small business suppliers, while boosting their own brand appeal. It's a win win for all and something that is on the uptick!
Sounds awesome! I absolutely agree with this post.
Thanks for the article Caron, Within the food industry the persistent issue is a key factor. We have had several food chains say no to one of our clients items, yet after relentless follow-up, hounding, and almost begging we got the items on the shelves. For us, the key was by-pass the main purchaser, and getting the product pitched to the VP of Procurement.
Hey Caron, thanks again for you article. I have found that people don't practice their pitch. I think once of the most important things to do is consistently practice. Whether it be with you friends, family, or other business partners, do several role plays, with different rebuttals is a great way to prepare yourself for the real thing. Thanks again!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to leave comments. If you already have an SBA.gov account, Log In to leave your comment.

New users, Register for a new account and join the conversation today!