How to Get into Houchens Markets
Founded in 1917, Houchens Market is a subsidiary of Houchens Industries. The company is best known as a grocer, owning and operating convenience stores (Jr. Food Stores, Tobacco Shoppe) and supermarkets (Houchens Markets, IGA, Save-A-Lot, Mad Butcher, and most recently Price Less Foods/Price Less IGA). In 2004, Houchens acquired Food Giant supermarkets, which operates stores under the Food Giant, Market Place, and Piggly Wiggly name.
The company operates its supermarkets generally under several banners: Buehlers Buy Low, Food Giant, Houchens Markets, IGA, IGA Express, IGA Crossroads, Jr. Food Stores, Piggly Wiggly, and Save-A-Lot.
The company also operates retail grocery and neighborhood market stores across 16 states.
To effectively be in business with this retailer, you need a unique selling point. This means that your offers must be different from the commonplace. You must look for something that makes what you sell very different from several products that this retailer sells.
This retailer competes in the market on three things: price, customer service, and topmost quality. To achieve price, the retailer must get the products at affordable prices from the suppliers. Customer service is with the company. The last part is topmost quality. This is also a point with the supplier. The retailer would sell what the supplier supplies. Thus, to maintain the standard, the products must be of topmost quality. All food items must have passed through several regulatory checks to ensure that they are fit for consumption.
To get your products noticed by this retailer, you need to get on the RangeMe platform as the buyers of the company use the platform to source new products. You can create a free profile to get started. The platform works by getting you connected to potential buyers who would see the range of products you have on your supply dash.
The United States grocery market has gotten to the point where it has to be personalized. The sector is one that tries to connect with the individual customer. This means, the supermarkets try to address the needs and interests of individual customers. This is by offering local, international, and metropolitan products. The company’s stores offer natural and organic grocery products, such as organic produce products; bulk food and private label products; dry, frozen, and canned groceries; meat and seafood products; dairy products and dairy substitutes; prepared foods; bread and baked products; seafood; and beverages.
Houchens is a bog retailer; one of the biggest in the United States according to Forbes. Despite its large holdings, the company is still true to its roots and does a perfect job of connecting to the needs of the average customer. It offers both foreign and local products. Also, it sources from both local and foreign suppliers in getting products to its customers.
How to get your product into Houchens Markets
- 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 Houchens Markets 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.
Sometimes easier said than done, however you must get on Houchens Markets radar.
Call the Houchens Markets 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 Houchens Markets buyers as they will potentially have a better history.
Use advertising, public relations and marketing to make your brand known to Houchens Markets 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 Houchens Markets 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 Houchens Markets buyers meeting or trade show in the future.
Houchens Markets 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 Houchens Markets 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 Houchens Markets 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 Houchens Markets
There are several ways to get a product placed in Houchens Markets. 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 Houchens Markets, 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 Houchens Markets.
1. Start with the right questions.) Before you try distributing your product to Houchens Markets, 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 Houchens Markets would be interested in selling your product? If you can strike a deal with Houchens Markets can you handle the production volume? Do you want to sell directly to Houchens Markets, or do you want to license your product to a manufacturer that will handle Houchens Markets?
2. Be prepared to profit.) Does your product offer enough of a profit margin for Houchens Markets? Can you sell your product at a reasonable enough profit to cover the packaging, shipping, commissions, marketing and wholesale distribution? Check Houchens Markets 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 Houchens Markets 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 Houchens Markets is the right store for your product.) The relationship between you and Houchens Markets starts with you browsing their store for competing products. If Houchens Markets already has a similar product, it is going to be very difficult to get your product picked up. Spend some time at your local Houchens Markets 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 Houchens Markets.
If your company is minority or women owned, check Houchens Markets and see if they offer specific opportunities for those designations.
4. Pitch your product to Houchens Markets) Decide whether it will be you or a representative to present your product to Houchens Markets. 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 Houchens Markets, 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 Houchens Markets. The percentage of commission verses, however generally a broker will take around 5% to represent your product to Houchens Markets.
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 Houchens Markets 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 Houchens Markets paperwork.) Often Houchens Markets will have you go through an application process. However, before submitting the paperwork required by Houchens Markets, you should contact a buyer at Houchens Markets 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 Houchens Markets 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, Houchens Markets 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 Houchens Markets, 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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