How to Distribute Your Product to Convenience Stores in 5 Simple Steps
How To Get Your Product in Convenience Stores written by Bob Goldstein
So, you have a new product that is perfect for the fast-paced convenience store industry.
You’ve spent countless hours researching a product that you feel is going to be a hit. Investing tons of cash in inventory and your are ready for convenience store distribution.
Independent C-Stores and Local Grocers can be a GOLDMINE
While you may want your product to be delivered to Walmart tomorrow, in reality the big box retail stores won’t even look at you if you don’t have iRI or Nielsen sales data. An alternative to selling your product online through a website is to take it to independent mom & pop shops, drug stores and convenience stores in your area. Test locally and scale nationally.
1. Listen to Big Box Buyers
Use your launch as an opportunity to listen to your customers feedback. Frequent the stores that carry your product and speak to the person behind the counter to see what they think you can do to sell more. Sometimes something as easy as changing the color of your packaging can double or triple in-store sales. Buyers from big box retail and chain stores are looking for what differentiates your product from what they already sell.
Speak to your local retailers and inform them of your goals. Some stores allow their management to purchase a percentage of local items. These local stores can serve as testing ground where you can try out new packaging, colors, flavors, etc… Often when dealing with large stores they may seek to private label your product, customize your packaging to fit their shelves and check out system or dictate the amount of product that you are able to sell at one time.
2. Get Used to Hearing No or… “Send me more information”
The benefits of looking to build your brand from a local level in independent convenience stores is that you have 2-3 opportunities to sell your product at every traffic light. With big box retailers, they do not have nearly as many locations as the independent stores, and because of this they are more selective of the products they bring into their stores.
(HOT TIP) Whole Foods encourages it’s managers to seek out local products and create opportunities for those local businesses and entrepreneurs to sell to their stores directly.
Frequently you can call the stores or visit their website to find out how to submit your product to be reviewed.
3. Tap Into Trade Shows
Probably the most expensive way to promote your business, trade shows can offer opportunities to speak to a wide range of buyers, wholesalers and retailers seeking hot new products. It is a great way for you to speak directly to store owners and if you take a look at our list of trade shows targeted at convenience stores and independent grocers you will surely find one coming to a town near you.
4. Use a Broker
If you are at a point with your product where you aren’t able to hire on a full time salesperson, a broker may be a good alternative for you. Brokers work on commission to get your product placed on the countertop in both big box stores, dollar stores, general stores or convenience store chains across the country and around the world. Brokers are often referred to as manufacture’s representatives (Manufacturers Reps). Convenience store brokers generally take a fee ranging between 5 – 15 percent of the deal and don’t get paid until you do. They frequently have ties to regional buyers that they’ve worked with in the past and have insight into what those companies are looking for in your product.
5. Have Them Call You!
The best situation is when customers are actually demanding that their local Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens or Dollar General carry your product. The best way for you to guarantee success in-store is by marketing and doing your job promoting your product outside the store. When customers have heard of your product and seek to find it, managers will take notice.
Send your product to local bloggers or give away samples of your product for local charities to sell to raise money. If you’re able to create a buzz in the local area around your product, stores will start calling you.
Tap into the 1,200+ Distributors, Wagon Jobbers and Merchandisers in the Mr. Checkout network.
There are over 100,000 conventional convenience stores in the US with equally the same number of mom & pop groceries, bodegas, liquor / c-store formats, gift / convenience stores, marts, convenience kiosk, party stores, campground stores, bait & tackle c-stores… and the list goes on & on.
What all of these retail stores have in common is that they sell convenience products to their loyal and passing by customers. Health & beauty care items, snacks, beverages, general merchandise, sunglasses, batteries and cigarette lighters are standard items found in these retailers. Thousands of customers pour into these stores daily to buy lottery tickets and gas and while in-store, they pick up, impulsively, a snack, coffee, energy shot or bar to give them a feel good feeling as they continue their on their way.
With 100’s in name-brand products distributed by c-store wagon jobbers, DSD distributors (direct-store-delivery), full-line wholesalers or cash and carry warehouses, the opportunity to get your product into these c-stores is a real challenge.
Your choice is to hit the trade show circuit and spend thousands of dollars competing with major brands that are attracting buyers to their booth…not yours. You could also call buyers at the major retailers like Walmart, Walgreens, Target, etc. but to get an appointment several months from now and to show up without impressive sales data can be a disaster.
There are also product brokers that may list your product but many want the same sales data that their buyers are demanding unless you are a brand extension like Hershey, for example, introducing a new candy bar. You have a wonderful product but feel like you are going backward with these conventional trade shows, buyers and product brokers.
We have a solution that will give your product an in-store, on the checkout counter or in the cooler presence. In-store marketing is the way for you to launch your product. It worked for Red Bull, 5-Hour Energy, and more recently, the hot selling electronic cigarette industry. Mr. Checkout has emerged with an inexpensive in-store Blitz that will get your new product on the checkout counter or in the cooler, guaranteed in 100 to 10,000 convenience stores coast to coast.
In the Mr. Checkout Blitz, you pick the cities or major marketing areas and we will do the rest. You will get a list of DSD distributors that are eager to introduce your new product to the stores that they service. You will receive a digital picture of your new product on the checkout counter or in the beverage cooler along with the name, address, phone and manager’s name for 100% verification. You can Blitz downtown Manhattan, exciting Orlando, inner-city Los Angeles, beautiful rural Iowa, fast-paced Dallas / Ft. Worth and many more choice locations.
Once we place your product displays in our stores, and we get movement /sales from your product and positive feedback from our store owners and distributors, we will introduce you & your product to our network of manufacturer reps and brokers.
As soon as your Blitz starts, we will build an exclusive landing page on the Mr. Checkout site featuring your Blitz product. As pics come in from the stores, they will be added to the site along with any feedback from the field. This is real data that will impress both brokers and corporate convenience store buyers.
The bottom line is that you have a product, we have the distributors and stores and the ways & means to get you on the checkout or in the cooler. With a cost of only $25 and a display (can be a partial display) we will begin the story of your brand in-store.
Mr. Checkout has been in business since 1989 and has a group of hard working direct store delivery distributors and merchandiser that are always looking for winning product. We welcome you to join our success!