How to Get a Product on Grocery Store Shelves – by Lydia King, Demand Media inShare.
When you create a grocery product, the first place to sell it may be at a local farmer’s market or fair. When your product is a farmer’s market success, you’ll need to get it on grocery stores shelves to expand your customer base. You can find out about grocery stores where your customers are likely to shop through market research. Read industry publications such as Supermarket News to keep informed about trends in the grocery industry, and to learn about sales opportunities.
Step 1 – Contact your insurance agent to purchase products liability insurance. Products liability insurance protects your company from liability that may arise if a customer is injured by your product. Retail buyers require proof of insurance before they agree to purchase your product.
Step 2 – Join the Uniform Code Council to obtain a Uniform Product Code manufacturer’s number for your product. UPC symbols appear as bar codes on product labels, and help to track sales and inventory throughout the retail supply chain. All large grocery stores, and most small stores, require a UPC on products they sell.
Step 3 – Create a blog or a website for your product. Include pictures of your product and information about size and weight if applicable. Upload photographs or videos demonstrating how to use the product. Include information about your ordering process and an order form for wholesale buyers on your website.
Step 4 – Create marketing brochures that describe your product. Focus on special ingredients, or features that distinguishes your product from other similar products on the market. Include your website and other contact information on the brochure so that interested wholesale buyers can easily find out more about your product.
Step 5 – Call managers of grocery stores in your area. Ask managers for appointments to demonstrate your product. Some grocery stores have set times when they meet with local vendors. Some independent grocery stores post information about open calls for vendors on their websites. Bring copies of your brochure, order forms and your business card to leave with managers after meetings.
Step 6 – Visit websites of large chain grocery stores to find out if they have vendor programs for small businesses. Look for contact information for a vendor relations manager, or a senior buyer to ask for directions about how to send samples and marketing materials. Prepare to travel to meet with buyers in person to talk about your product. Practice your sales pitch to convince buyers that their customers will want your product. Generally speaking, you need to show buyers that your product sold successfully in local grocery stores in order to get picked up by a large chain store.
Step 7 – Register for a vendor or wholesaler membership with trade organizations such as the Natural Grocers Association, or the National Products Association for opportunities to network with buyers and other manufacturers. Register for a booth or table at a NGA or NPA sponsored trade show to display your product, and attract orders from buyers.
Tips – If you need assistance pitching your product to big chain grocery stores, refer to trade organization directories to find a food broker. An experienced food broker can represent you to retail buyers, and sell your product in return for a commission fee.
About the Author – Based in Reston, Va., Lydia King has been a writer and editor since 1996, working with diverse subject matter including law, government contracting, philosophy and career guidance. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in history at National University, where she is pursuing a Master of Arts in English and comparative literature