Get Your Product into Mariano’s (Chicago Area)

Mr. Checkout is a network of independent wagon-jobbers and full-line distributors. We distribute product to over 35,000 independent stores around the country and have built relationships with hundreds of retail buyers. We are always seeking the next hot new product. If you have a product, we want to hear from you!

How To Get Into Mariano’s (Chicago Area)

Founded in the year 2000, Mariano Fresh Market is a Midwestern grocery store that has been serving its customers via 44 grocery outlets. It is currently owned by Kroger; and in the e-commerce culture, you don’t need to visit the store before you can get your grocery delivered to you. There is a fast distribution network that can get you your products as soon as possible.

In the Mariano’s physical store, Departments in the store sell a range of food and drink including coffee and gelato, sushi, rotisserie chickens, smoked ribs, briskets, and sliders, salad bar buffet, oyster and liquor bar, cheese, sweets, juice and smoothies.

The retail chain has quite a number of retail stores and it has continued to supply its usual goodness and steep low prices to its customers. The company has made it a point of duty to put its customers first and this has helped it grow its dedicated customer base for almost two decades.

The supermarket business in the United States 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.

The uniqueness and the innovativeness of Mariano’s set it apart. It isn’t like the normal food chain where things are dull and not interesting, customers have enjoyed this food chain and they have written about it online. A customer noted on yelp.com that: “Wow I like his Mariano’s a lot every time I am riding public transportation I walk ride in and find tons of good buys.  I love looking at their flower arrangements they are so gorgeous.  When I look and see all the floors with sales my eyes just pop out and I wish I had tons of. Money to buy everything I see.  I always visit their hidden cheese treasure little room you can find all the cheeses from all over the world.  I am so glad that today I was able to control my spending habits because I was on the bus and it is a long way home.  I will always come back.”

On the local sourcing of food products, Mariano’s has been on the forefront of selling locally sourced food products and imported food items. Their wine, spice, and produce selection make them a leader in the retail and grocery business niche. This store has been in the business for years and has its established sourcing angles. Its constant support of local products has helped it cement its brand in the community as people can easily resonate with it.

If you have a product, we want to hear from you!

Mr. Checkout is a national association of independent wagon-jobbers and full-line distributors. We distribute product to approximately 35,000 independent stores around the country and are always seeking the next hot new product. If you have a product, we want to hear from you!

How to get your product into Mariano’s

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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 Mariano’s 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.

  • Step 1

    Contact Mariano’s Buyer

    Sometimes easier said than done, however you must get on Mariano’s radar.

    Call the Mariano’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 Mariano’s buyers as they will potentially have a better history.

  • Step 2

    Get On Mariano’s Radar

    Use advertising, public relations and marketing to make your brand known to Mariano’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 Mariano’s 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 Mariano’s buyers meeting or trade show in the future.

    Step 2

  • Step 3

    Use Hard Facts

    Mariano’s 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 Mariano’s 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 Mariano’s 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 Mariano’s

There are several ways to get a product placed in Mariano’s. 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 Mariano’s, 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 Mariano’s.

1. Start with the right questions.) Before you try distributing your product to Mariano’s, 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 Mariano’s would be interested in selling your product? If you can strike a deal with Mariano’s, can you handle the production volume? Do you want to sell directly to Mariano’s, 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 Mariano’s? Can you sell your product at a reasonable enough profit to cover the packaging, shipping, commissions, marketing and wholesale distribution? Check Mariano’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 Mariano’s 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 Mariano’s is the right store for your product.) The relationship between you and Mariano’s starts with you browsing their store for competing products. If Mariano’s already has a similar product, it is going to be very difficult to get your product picked up. Spend some time at your local Mariano’s 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 Mariano’s.

If your company is minority or women owned, check Mariano’s website and see if they offer specific opportunities for those designations.

4. Pitch your product to Mariano’s.) Decide whether it will be you or a representative to present your product to Mariano’s. 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 Mariano’s, 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 Mariano’s. The percentage of commission verses, however generally a broker will take around 5% to represent your product to Mariano’s.

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 Mariano’s 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 Mariano’s paperwork.) Often Mariano’s will have you go through an application process. However, before submitting the paperwork required by Mariano’s, you should contact a buyer at Mariano’s 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 Mariano’s 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, Mariano’s 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 Mariano’s, 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.

Submit Your Product Now

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