Each business has different goals and plans for growth, several SME’s have the ambition to get their products into supermarkets. This isn’t always an easy task, so we’re putting together this blog post with some tips on how to achieve this goal. Some supermarkets will offer the option to stock products under their own range white label. However, for the purpose of this article, we’ll be going under the assumption that you want to get your brand out there.
Understand Your Customer
As with any business, you need to understand your customer. In this case we’re not talking about who will buy your products as this is something you’ll have in the bag; we’re talking about the supermarket as your customer. This can be a peculiar thought to process, but it is a critical one. You need to understand as much as you can about the supermarket you’re applying for as they will have in depth statistical data on everything they sell and who’s buying it. You will need an understanding of how that supermarket works and where your product fits into their fixture. What can you bring to the table? Can you meet their expectations?
When meeting with a buyer, make sure you are familiar with jargon and know what they will ask of you; do you know their basic requirements for things such as ethical trading, quality control and manufacturing?
You need to be realistic about what you can and can’t achieve. In brutal honesty, most of us have overshot at some point in our lives and missed, don’t promise things that you’re not yet capable of. Be certain and clear on your figures, what volume can you supply, your prices, capability for scaling your business and accounting for promotions. When signing a commercial agreement, you are making a promise of what you can provide and if you fail to meet this demand some supermarkets may charge you a penalty.
Think About Your Packaging
Consider your packaging, we don’t need to touch on this too much as we’ve written a more detailed blog post here, but they key points you need to consider are things such as: will your product packaging withhold transportation? Is it easy to open and convenient? Will it look nice on a shelf placed against other similar products? Think again about where your product will fit in with the supermarket, will it withstand the journey from manufacture to shelf, and to the car boot of a customer who bought it?
Create a Thorough Strategy
You will need a clear, thorough, and thought-out strategy. Supermarkets are inundated with requests from SMEs to stock their product. Many of them will not get a reply. How are you going to stand out against this crowd? What is the USP of your product? Why will a customer buy your product? At this stage you need to be thick-skinned and be prepared to be persistent, but not annoying. But it’s important to remember that trends change, and just because a supermarket isn’t interested right now, that doesn’t mean they won’t be interested 6 months down the line. It might be good to send out samples with a note attached to potential buyers.
Of course, if you do manage to get your foot in the door, this will give you some leverage to get into other supermarkets. Because you are building up your credentials, you should start off with strong customer testimonials when approaching a supermarket to show that your product has value. Once you have a supermarket stocking your brand this will really help to promote your business value. It’s best to use this leverage within a 4–6-month time frame to apply to other supermarkets, as this shows that your company is still relevant and has good growth potential.
Hopefully this has given you some insight into how to get your product into a supermarket, and whilst this can be a very difficult feat, with persistence it is achievable and can be very rewarding. Good luck!