How to Get Product into Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble, Inc., a Fortune 500 company, is the bookseller with the largest number of retail outlets in the United States, and a retailer of content, digital media, and educational products. As of October 15, 2017, the company operates 778 retail stores in all 50 U.S. states.
Barnes & Noble operates mainly through its Barnes & Noble Booksellers chain of bookstores. The company’s headquarters are at 122 Fifth Avenue in New York City.
After a series of mergers and bankruptcies in the American bookstore industry since the 1990s, Barnes & Noble stands alone as the United States’ largest national bookstore chain. Previously, Barnes and Noble operated the chain of small B. Dalton Booksellers stores in malls until they announced the liquidation of the chain. The company is known for large retail outlets, many of which contain a café serving Starbucks coffee and other consumables. Most stores sell books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs, graphic novels, gifts, games, toys, music, and Nook e‑readers and tablets.
To operate the best omni-channel specialty retail business in America, helping both their customers and booksellers reach their aspirations, while being a credit to the communities they serve.
Barnes & Noble stores are open seven days a week, average 26,000 square feet, and feature the best service, depth of selection and comfortable settings, including their cafés where customers can enjoy delicious food and beverages. Customers can purchase their highly acclaimed NOOK® devices, as well as a wide selection of books, music, DVDs, newsstand titles, gifts, and toys and games.
Barnes & Noble’s online channel, BN.com, offers the largest in-stock selection of in-print book titles with access to approximately one million titles for immediate delivery, supplemented by more than 30 million listings from its nationwide network of out-of-print, rare and used book dealers. BN.com offers its customers fast delivery, easy and secure ordering, and rich editorial content.
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 Barnes & Noble
- 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 Barnes & Noble 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 Barnes & Noble Buyer
Sometimes easier said than done, however you must get on Barnes & Noble’s radar.
Call the Barnes & Noble’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 Barnes & Noble buyers as they will potentially have a better history.
Get On Barnes & Noble’s Radar
Use advertising, public relations and marketing to make your brand known too Barnes & Noble’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 Barnes & Noble 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 Barnes & Noble buyers meeting or trade show in the future.
Use Hard Facts
Barnes & Noble 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 Barnes & Noble 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 Barnes & Noble 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 Barnes & Noble
There are several ways to get a product placed in Barnes & Noble. 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 Barnes & Noble, 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 Barnes & Noble.
1. Start with the right questions.) Before you try distributing your product to Barnes & Noble, 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 Barnes & Noble would be interested in selling your product? If you can strike a deal with Barnes & Noble, can you handle the production volume? Do you want to sell directly to Barnes & Noble, 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 Barnes & Noble? Can you sell your product at a reasonable enough profit to cover the packaging, shipping, commissions, marketing and wholesale distribution? Check Barnes & Noble’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 Barnes & Noble 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 Barnes & Noble is the right store for your product.) The relationship between you and Barnes & Noble starts with you browsing their store for competing products. If Barnes & Noble already has a similar product, it is going to be very difficult to get your product picked up. Spend some time at your local Barnes & Noble 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 Barnes & Noble.
If your company is minority or women owned, check Barnes & Noble’s website and see if they offer specific opportunities for those designations.
4. Pitch your product to Barnes & Noble.) Decide whether it will be you or a representative to present your product to Barnes & Noble. 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 Barnes & Noble, 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 Barnes & Noble. The percentage of commission verses, however generally a broker will take around 5% to represent your product to Barnes & Noble.
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 Barnes & Noble 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 Barnes & Noble paperwork.) Often Barnes & Noble will have you go through an application process. However, before submitting the paperwork required by Barnes & Noble, you should contact a buyer at Barnes & Noble 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 Barnes & Noble 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, Barnes & Noble 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 Barnes & Noble, 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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