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How to become a more attractive candidate for vendor Wal-Mart

Many suppliers dream about selling their products to huge retail establishments like Wal-Mart, but what they don't often know is what Wal-Mart looks for in a supplier. Here are some steps you can take to become a more attractive candidate for vendor Wal-Mart.

Step one:
First you are going to have to come up with a product that Wal-Mart will want to have on their shelves. Many people send Wal-Mart things they have invented, such as home-made elixirs in mason jars, but what Wal-Mart is looking for is something that their customers will want. While inventions are hard to get on Wal-Mart's shelves because of the lack of people interested in these items, the hardest possible item to get on Wal-Mart's shelves are "me too" items. These items are simply variations of items that already exist such as pencils, pens, food storage containers, and many other items. In these areas there is already so much duplication that it is really hard to find somebody to give you shelf space to promote these items. In order to increase your chances of getting shelf space you need to make the "me too" item really unique and can give the customers some type of special advantage.

Step two:
The next step is to build solid relationships with other retailers. Your best bet is to start off in small stores, such as boutiques, to begin selling your item. You can also create a website to help promote your item and sell it on the website. Another possibility you can use when promoting your new product is to approach people that will be targeted by your item. By building a solid relationship with smaller retailers you are establishing proof that your item can be sold to the public. When using suppliers Wal-Mart wants to account for 30% or less of the suppliers business, by having a solid retail base before approaching Wal-Mart you can prove that you will not be relying solely on Wal-Mart to sell your product.

Step three:
Make sure you offer a broad product mix. This is important because if you are set on selling just a single item you have less chances of reaching a lot of customers, by offering a variety of products, even if it is a twist on your main product you can offer different prices on each item and therefore sell to a wider range. By providing a variety of products you are able to meet the changing needs of big retailers like Wal-Mart who are always asking the question "What can you do for me now?"

Step four:
You need to have flexibility when producing your product. This means that you need to be able to produce your item in large quantities for mass retailers, like Wal-Mart, as well as be able to produce lesser quantities for your other retailers or trade shows. Most people who are producing products for smaller companies sell their products at a higher price to help cover production costs, but when mass producing your item you are actually lowering your production costs so you can lower the price of your item to make it a more successful sale in companies like Wal-Mart.

Step five:
The final step is to arrange a meeting with Wal-Mart buyers; your best bet is to start off at the local levels rather than national. Make sure that when you approach the local buyers that you are prepared to tell them why your product should replace an older product that they already carry. Make sure that your presentation is well organized and full of facts.

Just remember just because you follow these steps it does not guarantee that you will make it on to Wal-Mart's shelves. Wal-Mart only accepts about 2% of the suppliers that approach them every year. So if you don't make it this year you can always try again.

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