When launching a new business with the intention of selling products, there are many things to consider. One of the most important is how you will get your products on retailers’ shelves. The more stores you can get into, the more opportunities you have to profit.
However, this is something that’s often easier said than done. Retailers won’t accept just any product they’re offered. Instead, each retailer has a unique set of criteria to determine whether adding a specific product to their shelves is desirable. That means that to get on the shelves of a retailer, you need to convince them that your product is worth carrying. There are two primary methods of doing this.
The DIY and broker methods
Your first option is to pitch the products you sell to retailers on your own. This DIY (do it yourself) method offers several advantages, the most important being that you don’t have to pay a broker to do the work for you. This cost-saving measure can be especially impactful to young companies that are just getting started.
Alternately, you could hire a broker to complete pitches for you. This carries its own advantages. For example, brokers typically have a strong track record of helping entrepreneurs get their products on the shelves of certain types of retailers. This means hiring one could help you reach your goals for product distribution much faster than you would be able to do on your own.
Both the DIY and broker methods are reasonable ways to go about getting your products on retailers’ shelves. The option that’s right for your company will depend on a few key factors discussed more in-depth in the following sections.
How fast do you want to grow and how big is your team?
These are two important questions to ask yourself as you consider whether it’s time to hire a broker. If you have a small team, it can be challenging to find the time and human resources needed to carry out essential pitches as effectively as possible. Most companies in this situation can still make the DIY option work. However, their growth is often limited by the amount of time they can devote to preparing for and delivering pitches.
Conversely, hiring a broker can be a good option for small teams who would like to grow quickly. A broker can handle the hard work of preparing for and delivering pitches so you and your team can focus your efforts elsewhere. They can get your products into multiple retailers while you concentrate on preparing to meet the demands associated with that.
What’s your cash flow?
Cash flow considerations are especially important when deciding between pitching yourself or hiring a broker. You can either hire your own sales staff and potentially have a greater immediate impact on your cash flow. You can also use a broker who will cost less upfront and then hire sales staff as your company grows and your cash flow increases.
Typically, it’s a better option to hire a broker if you don’t currently have much cash flow. Otherwise, you risk hiring a sales force that you ultimately aren’t able to support financially. On the other hand, if you already have a healthy cash flow, hiring your sales team now can be a good option. You can get them into place early and have them begin the relationship-building process immediately to prepare your company for a successful future.
Are you ready to handle the complexities of working with a retailer?
Getting your products on the shelves of a retailer is just the first step in the sales process. Doing so also comes with several responsibilities that you’ll need to manage. These include paperwork, navigating retailer vendor systems, and managing all of the sales data that you receive.
Most brokers will be able to help your company with these responsibilities, which is something else that’s important to consider as you decide between your two options.
Are your products in the grocery or clothing industries?
In some industries, companies have made it common to hire brokers to make pitches for them. Two of the most relevant examples of this are the grocery and clothing industries. If your products are in one of these categories, retailers will expect to hear from a broker instead of from the company owner directly.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t innovate a bit and do things differently. However, keep in mind that brokers typically have more success in these industries. Most of the time, experience pays off. It ultimately comes down to the decision of wanting to earn that experience yourself or outsource it.