How to Get Product into Michaels
At Michaels, they believe anyone can make, and they’re on a mission to inspire and encourage everyone to unleash their inner maker. With helpful store Team Members and a broad selection of merchandise, combined with compelling in-store events and online content, they believe they offer the most complete arts and crafts experience and are the preferred destination in the industry.
With 1,367 stores (consisting of 1,223 Michaels stores in the 49 states and Canada and 109 Aaron Brothers stores) as of January 28, 2017, and $5.2 billion in sales in fiscal 2016, The Michaels Companies is the largest arts and crafts specialty provider in North America. In addition to their retail outlets, they also own Artistree, a manufacturer of high quality custom and specialty framing merchandise, and Darice, a premier wholesale distributor in the craft, gift and decor industry.
Their stores are at the heart of their customer engagement strategy, showcasing their artistic and creative products while providing an opportunity for their store Team Members to interact with customers and help them develop creative ideas. They carry a broad and deep assortment of more than 30,000 stock-keeping units (“SKUs”) in arts, crafts, scrapbooking, floral, framing, home décor, seasonal offerings, and children’s hobbies that enable us to satisfy the diverse needs of their customers. They have also developed a robust online platform which promotes social networking and includes expert tips, project ideas, marketing content and information about upcoming in-store events. In recent years, they have capitalized on their market-leading scale to create a team and infrastructure dedicated to designing, sourcing and delivering high quality, on-trend merchandise, including a growing number of products under their portfolio of private brands.
Their private branded products, which represented approximately 57% of net sales in fiscal 2016, are only available at Michaels and allow us to further differentiate their merchandise while enhancing product margins. They are also able to use their scale and market leadership to identify and secure exclusive third party products. They believe their compelling store experience and broad product offering distinguish us from their competitors and position Michaels as the leading brand that defines arts and crafts.
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 Michaels
- 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 Michaels 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 Michaels radar.
Call the Michaels 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 Michaels buyers as they will potentially have a better history.
Use advertising, public relations and marketing to make your brand known to Michaels 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 Michaels 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 Michaels buyers meeting or trade show in the future.
Michaels 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 Michaels 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 Michaels 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 Michaels
Here are the 6 steps you need to take to have your product placed in Michaels.
1. Start with the right questions.) Before you try distributing your product to Michaels, 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 Michaels would be interested in selling your product? If you can strike a deal with Michaels, can you handle the production volume? Do you want to sell directly to Michaels, 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 Michaels? Can you sell your product at a reasonable enough profit to cover the packaging, shipping, commissions, marketing and wholesale distribution? Check Michaels 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 Michaels 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 Michaels is the right store for your product.) The relationship between you and Michaels starts with you browsing their store for competing products. If Michaels already has a similar product, it is going to be very difficult to get your product picked up. Spend some time at your local Michaels 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 Michaels.
If your company is minority or women owned, check Michaels website and see if they offer specific opportunities for those designations.
4. Pitch your product to Michaels.) Decide whether it will be you or a representative to present your product to Michaels. 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 Michaels, 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 Michaels. The percentage of commission verses, however generally a broker will take around 5% to represent your product to Michaels.
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 Michaels 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 Michaels paperwork.) Often Michaels will have you go through an application process. However, before submitting the paperwork required by Michaels, you should contact a buyer at Michaels 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 Michaels 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, Michaels 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 Michaels, 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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