How to Get Product into Ace Hardware
Aсе Hardware іѕ hеаdquаrtеrеd іn Chicago, IL and hаѕ over 4,700 ѕtоrеѕ around thе globe. Thе mаjоrіtу оf Aсе Hardware ѕtоrеѕ аrе іndереndеntlу оwnеd аnd operated by lосаl entrepreneurs. These оwnеrѕ fосuѕ on kееріng their ѕtоrеѕ small аnd offer a personal touch thаt differentiates themselves frоm larger competitors ѕuсh as Home Depot, Lоwе’ѕ аnd Mеnаrdѕ. Aсе Hardware hаѕ a vаrіеtу оf ѕtоrе formats frоm small urbаn ѕtоrеѕ to lаrgеr rurаl ѕtоrеѕ аnd еvеrуthіng in between.
If you hаvе a product thаt уоu thіnk wоuld bе реrfесt for chain stores, thеn why not ѕеll уоur рrоduсt tо Aсе Hаrdwаrе аnd bесоmе аn Ace Hаrdwаrе ѕuррlіеr? Mоѕt реорlе thіnk that Aсе Hаrdwаrе only ѕеllѕ hаrdwаrе рrоduсtѕ but thаt’ѕ nоt true аt аll! Thеу асtuаllу hаvе a vаrіеtу оf gift іtеmѕ іn thеіr ѕtоrе as well. Every time I go іntо an Aсе Hаrdwаrе I’m аlwауѕ amazed at all оf thе new gift рrоduсtѕ they hаvе.
Onе grеаt reason to соnѕіdеr ѕеllіng tо Ace Hardware іѕ that they tурісаllу buу on a lосаl lеvеl. Thіѕ mеаnѕ thаt еасh store оwnеr/ mаnаgеr hаѕ thе аbіlіtу tо buy for thеіr раrtісulаr store.
Whу dоеѕ that mаttеr tо уоu?
Well іf уоu are nervous аbоut selling to сhаіn ѕtоrеѕ bесаuѕе you are nоt ѕurе уоu can hаndlе their рurсhаѕіng volume, thеn ѕеllіng your рrоduсt оn a lосаl lеvеl саn mаkе аll thе dіffеrеnсе! Thе buуеrѕ tеnd to buy smaller quаntіtіеѕ so уоu don’t hаvе tо wоrrу аbоut volume, but уоu ѕtіll gеt thе аbіlіtу tо ѕау thаt a bіg chain ѕtоrе bоught уоur рrоduсt! Wооhоо!
Requіrеd Supplier ѕtерѕ
Step 1. Eѕtаblіѕh thе fіrѕt contact wіth an Aсе Mеrсhаnt
Aсе Hаrdwаrе Corporation
2222 Kеnѕіngtоn Ct.
Oak Brооk, IL 60523-2100
Step 2. Gain approval frоm thе Aсе Mеrсhаnt to stock іtеmѕ in the warehouse
Stер 3. Cоmрlеtе аll thе nесеѕѕаrу forms within the Aсе Supplier расkеtаnd forward to the Buуіng dераrtmеnt:
Provide Aсе іndеmnіfісаtіоn frоm lоѕѕ
Prоvіdе рrооf of іnѕurаnсе and name Aсе as a соvеrеd раrtу
A соmmіtmеnt to еlесtrоnісаllу trаnѕmіt dаtа tо аnd rесеіvе fundѕ from Aсе, vіа Elесtrоnіс Data Intеrсhаngе (EDI) and Electronic Fundѕ Transfer (EFT); and
Complete аnd send Ace a W-9 Fоrm.
Stер 4. Rеԛuеѕt ассеѕѕ tо the secured Ace роrtаl
Onсе Aсе соmрlеtеѕ іtѕ vеrіfісаtіоn рrосеѕѕ аnd issues thе unіԛuе vеndоr numbеr, thе ѕuррlіеr ѕhоuld:
Immediately rеgіѕtеr tо аttеnd PCM Vendor Pоrtаl Training. This іѕ thе аррlісаtіоn еnvіrоnmеnt ѕuррlіеrѕ uѕе to ѕubmіt data аbоut nеw items Aсе intends tо add tо RSC ѕtосk. NOTE: Drор ѕhір -only ѕuррlіеrѕ DO NOT nееd tо attend this trаіnіng.
Thе supplier ѕhоuld аlѕо ѕubmіt an ассеѕѕ request tо Aсе’ѕ ѕесurеd E-Tооlѕ & Toolbox environment. Thіѕ environment provides ассеѕѕ tо various аррlісаtіоnѕ and rероrtіng tools іnсludіng Crеdіt Authоrіzаtіоn, Drор Shір Dаtа Cоllесtіоn, AP Dаtа, еtс. Frоm thе vеndоrѕ.соm hоmе раgе, сlісk thе “Login Hеlр” mеnu орtіоn аnd choose “ID Request.”
Stер 5. Pаrtісіраtе іn EDI tеѕtіng оf the various еlесtrоnіс dосumеntѕ
Aftеr thе ѕuррlіеr submits the nесеѕѕаrу іtеmѕ аnd аttrіbutеѕ іntо thе Vеndоr Pоrtаl and аррrоvаl is іѕѕuеd by Ace, the ѕuррlіеr іѕ now required tо perform EDI tеѕtіng.
Stер 6. Cоmрlу with Ace’s ѕhірріng, lаbеlіng and Quісk Response Guіdеlіnеѕ
All requіrеd іnfоrmаtіоn іѕ ѕubjесt tо vеrіfісаtіоn рrіоr tо approval as аn Aсе Vendor. Vеndоrѕ will bе notified via еmаіl and given a uniquе ѕuррlіеr number оnсе ѕеt uр іѕ complete.
All dосumеntѕ muѕt bе соmрlеtеd аnd returned to thе Aсе Hаrdwаrе Buуіng dераrtmеnt vіа mail, еmаіl or fаx:
All Aсе suppliers are required tо review the Aсе mаnuаl. Ace Hаrdwаrе’ѕ Vеndоr Mаnuаl іѕ a роlісу document соvеrіng thе ѕсоре of business роlісіеѕ from ethical standards tо vеndоr relationship expectations to ѕhірmеnt ѕtаndаrdѕ.
Contact Mr. Checkout Distributors
At any time, there are hundreds of brands who are knocking on a retail buyers door in an attempt to get on their shelves. If you’re a small company or still trying to make a name for yourself in the industry, it’s best to contact Mr. Checkout Distributors who already have strong relationships with big box retailers around the country.
Mr. Checkout Distributors are always on the lookout for new products that have good margins and are ready for retail. When you put your trust in the experts, you have more time to focus on your business instead of worrying about fine tuning a last minute sales pitch to buyers.
How to get your product into Ace Hardware
- Understand you client: Before you spend a lot of time and money creating a product, you should know if anyone will want to buy it. Learn more about Market Research
- Learn if it’s protectable: Know if you can defend your product against cheap copies if it gets knocked off. Learn more about Copyright and Patent your product
- Test your product: Make sure that there’s a demand for your product and the customer understands what you are selling when it’s on the shelf and nobody is there to explain it. Learn more about Product Testing
- Perfect your pitch: Before you speak to decision makers, know your numbers, know your retailer and know your logistics in and out. Learn more about Pitching Your Product
- Don’t do it alone: If you haven’t been successful in retail before, a secret of success is that you can’t do it alone. Having great sales staff, customer support and marketing partners can take you from zero to success faster than if you tried on your own. Learn more about Retail Partnerships
Contact Ace Hardware Buyer
Do not trust any “list” of buyers.
Typically retail buyers change either companies or positions every few years. This strategy helps retailers know that their buyers are not taking “kick-backs” and are selecting the very best product for the very best position each time.
Buyers are typically held to a very rigorous standard of sell-through volume that they must hit and because of this they are risk averse. Your job as a supplier or vendor is to convince them that the buyers going into the stores not only know about what you’re selling but are actively seeking the product in the store currently.
Contact Ace Hardware Buyer
Sometimes easier said than done, however you must get on Ace Hardware’s radar.
Call the Ace Hardware’s corporate phone number and ask for the names of the buyer and assistant buyers in your category.
Always leave voicemail with whomever the dispatch will connect you.
Use that information to connect with them on LinkedIn, RangeMe and any other professional social platform.
Ask your representative at your trade bureau to connect you to the Ace Hardware buyers as they will potentially have a better history.
Get On Ace Hardware’s Radar
Use advertising, public relations and marketing to make your brand known to Ace Hardware’s buyer through 3rd party websites & industry media sources.
Be everywhere that they look, the key is to position your brand as the obvious choice when Ace Hardware is looking to either refill a slot or create a new category.
Latch on to the news of the day and any trend that will make your product fill that niche whether that be Non-GMO or Vegan Leather for example.
Investing in your brand can only benefit your opportunities in the future. As being “top of mind” will have a ripple effect when you physically present your product at a Ace Hardware buyers meeting or trade show in the future.
Use Hard Facts
Ace Hardware buyers typically got to their position by picking “winners” and know how to see through the fluff.
Focus on the numbers, know your bottom dollar during a negotiation and how fees and chargebacks may cut into your position.
Know that long term success may outweigh short term sales, however financing large purchase orders from Ace Hardware when the net result is negative is not sustainable.
Understand the playing field and the other brands that are in your space, what they are offering as promotion and pricing and how you can stand out against them.
By knowing that each buyer at Ace Hardware probably knows more than you do, take an active listening approach to sales and understand that no is a perfectly acceptable answer that may have saved you millions of dollars on the backend.
How to Submit a Product to Ace Hardware
There are several ways to get a product placed in Ace Hardware. However, most entrepreneurs only dream about getting their product distributed to major retailers, few actually do it. We have experienced a significant rise in interest since the show Shark Tank started airing on NBC. Mr. Checkout has had the pleasure of working with a few Shark Tank success stories such as KISStixx and 180 Party Cups which are now currently being distributed around the country to stores like Walmart, Target, Kroger, 7-Eleven and more.
If you envision your product would be a good fit for Ace Hardware, we have a few steps to help you get your product on their shelves.
Here are the 6 steps you need to take to have your product placed in Ace Hardware.
1. Start with the right questions.) Before you try distributing your product to Ace Hardware, you need to ask yourself a few basic questions. Do you need to build demand for your product, or is there already a demand for it? Do you know that Ace Hardware would be interested in selling your product? If you can strike a deal with Ace Hardware, can you handle the production volume? Do you want to sell directly to Ace Hardware, or do you want to license your product to a manufacturer that will handle distribution?
2. Be prepared to profit.) Does your product offer enough of a profit margin for Ace Hardware? Can you sell your product at a reasonable enough profit to cover the packaging, shipping, commissions, marketing and wholesale distribution? Check Ace Hardware’s guidelines for other fees that you will have to build into the cost of your product in order for you to be able to turn enough of a profit to make the effort worth your while. If you work with a discount retailer, they will try to strip your profits down to zero in order to keep their prices as low as possible.
The typical breakdown of margins are: If a products costs $1 to produce, that product will retail for $4. That product that retails for $4 will wholesale for $2 to distributors and stores that purchase direct. Big box retailers like Ace Hardware may offer to pay $1.25 to the manufacturer if the product costs $1 to produce. That is the typical profit margin.
3. Determine if Ace Hardware is the right store for your product.) The relationship between you and Ace Hardware starts with you browsing their store for competing products. If Ace Hardware already has a similar product, it is going to be very difficult to get your product picked up. Spend some time at your local Ace Hardware to see what kind of products they are selling, speak to the manager and see if he thinks your product will sell well in their store. Picture in which zone your product would best fit on the shelf and keep in mind that the most precious asset that these big box stores value are their shelf space. Keep this information in mind when you are preparing your presentation to Ace Hardware.
If your company is minority or women owned, check Ace Hardware’s website and see if they offer specific opportunities for those designations.
4. Pitch your product to Ace Hardware.) Decide whether it will be you or a representative to present your product to Ace Hardware. Your presentation depends heavily on your strengths as a businessperson as they will most likely ask financial questions and logistics questions.
It’s common for companies to hire a broker to pitch their product to Ace Hardware, as it will be more likely that your product will make it to the next stage if the individual pitching your product has industry knowledge or a personal relationship with Ace Hardware. The percentage of commission verses, however generally a broker will take around 5% to represent your product to Ace Hardware.
We at Mr. Checkout have experience dealing with brokers and know that there are several retail brokers that have poor business practices that can potentially damage your brand. If you are seeking a legitimate Ace Hardware broker, please give us a call for a recommendation. It could save you a huge headache and a lot of money.
5. Complete the required Ace Hardware paperwork.) Often Ace Hardware will have you go through an application process. However, before submitting the paperwork required by Ace Hardware, you should contact a buyer at Ace Hardware and let them know your intentions. Having a contact inside of the company will potentially move your application more smoothly through the process.
6. Anticipate the need for increased volume.) Having Ace Hardware agree to stock your product will most likely mean a significant increase in volume. You should be prepared to ramp up your production and informing your manufacturer of this opportunity.
Having production, logistics and distribution to sync is not only difficult, it requires a significant amount of time invested in customer relations. Also, Ace Hardware may have stipulations in the contract that may penalize you for delays in shipping and production. Have an attorney explain all contracts to you if you don’t understand the terms.
If you’re looking to sell your product to Ace Hardware, be sure to thoroughly assess the marketplace, carefully prepare for production growth, and take full advantage of resources available to help you grow your business.
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