Getting Your Invention on Store Shelves in 30 Days
Get Your Invention on Store Shelves
in 30 Days
Your design is completed. You’ve proven that it works. Now, you’re ready to put it on the market. By the time you’ve reached this milestone, you’ve already accomplished more than the vast majority of creative hopefuls. After basking in this celebratory moment, it’s time to kick things into high gear to avoid countering your achievements with an unexpected plateau.
Even with a slim margin of inventions that make it through production, the numbers decrease even further when the time comes to sell your idea to stores. Today, I’ll explain what you need to do to get your invention on the shelf in 30 days. You can sum up the process with one word: inventory.
Understanding the Store’s Objective
Retail outlets are pitched with inventions day in and day out. With so many promising ideas coming across their desks, buyers and store managers are concerned with one common topic. You guessed it – it’s inventory.
They need to know that you have the power to consistently produce quality merchandise. Buyers don’t want to see catalogs, they’re looking for products in hand. You’ll gain even more favor if you can leave them with some inventory after your meeting.
Understanding Your Personal Commitment
It’s equally important for you to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Most inventors would like to walk away from a deal with cash and hand but, outside of rare exceptions, most stores operate on a 30-day net agreement. Meaning, you won’t receive payment for your inventory until 30 days after its sold.
As an inventor, you need to be practical about what you can afford to part ways with, and how you’ll sustain your operation until those invoices are settled. With inventory on the shelf, and the need to continue ramping up production to fill future orders, you’ll have a significant amount of capital floating around until you’re able to claim your return.
Satisfying the Demand
Aside from the cost of production, you’ll also need to factor labor costs into the equation. You’ll need qualified hands to help you create, store, and package, and ship inventory, to satisfy your buyer’s demand. If you’ve been operating with a solo production, you’ll need to adjust your strategy. This may mean hiring people, renting a larger storage space, or even finding manufacturers who can accommodate a faster turnaround.
Be realistic about the impact this decision will have on you, your business, and, more importantly, your family. For example, when trying to circumvent budgetary concerns, you may decide to forgo the storage rental in lieu of stacking inventory in your home. However, your wife and children may not be too happy about losing the family room to all your packages and supplies. It’s important to make business decisions that won’t be too disruptive in your life.
Building on Long-Term Objectives
Regardless of how you make it happen, you must develop a way to make inventory your primary focus. This is the only way you’ll be ready to market yourself to retail stores. There have been instances where inventors managed to bypass this crucial step and land a retail contract, but their products didn’t stay on the shelves for very long. Buyers are in search of consistency. It is, in short, a definable deal breaker.
With that in mind, it’s important to tame your desires, at least in the very beginning. When you adjust your focus to concentrate on longevity and sustainability, it’s easier to accept the fact that you may not be able to place your invention into big-box environments right away. It takes an insane amount of luck or some well-placed connections to break into the mass-market retail environment as soon as you step through the door. Rather than setting your sites on retail giants like Target or Walmart, take a more realistic approach; one that’s sure to help you build your presence (and your inventory) to help you scale your operation.
Don’t allow yourself to be driven by emotionalism, opt for a more logical approach instead. When you build your sales from the ground up through a strategy approach that utilizes the influence of independent retailers, you’ll find your way to the big-box finish line soon enough. Here’s a good outline for you to follow:
First, concentrate on direct sales to end-users. Any level of success is worthy of celebration. By making connections directly with buyers, you’ll start building lasting relationships with your customers. You’ll gain the confidence that your product can sell, and you’ll also be able to receive direct feedback from your audience. This way, you can make improvements on the product or its packaging prior to moving your way up the ladder.
Next, shift gears to expand into independent specialty stores and the eCommerce market. Find local retailers who cater specifically to your target market and use these sales to help build your product’s history. Soon, this will become the leverage you need to negotiate a deal with big-ticket retailers.
Analyze Every Detail
The idea of getting your invention onto store shelves in 30 days can seem a bit intimidating at first, but the odds tilt in your favor, when you choose to take a more methodical approach. Be realistic about what you can handle, and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Most importantly, you need to spend a considerable amount of time tweaking your product, making sure that no detail has been overlooked.
You’d be surprised how much of an impact something like packaging can have on your bottom line. Packaging has a direct impact on factors like weight and cost, leading to higher shipping rates or the increased expense of refunds and returns because of damaged goods. Yes, it’s that important.
In the beginning, cash flow will be one of your top priorities. Every decision you make will impact where your “break even” point falls and costly mistakes can quickly add up. Don’t be afraid to endure a bit of trial and error to make sure you’re moving forward with the most profitable approach. Once you have everything in order, you can start to plan your in-store launch. This means, setting realistic goals for things like inventory (there’s that word again), record keeping, financial management, and more. Don’t wait until the invoices and receipts are piling up to work this out. Take the time to create a plan before your invention lands on the shelf.
Sound habits like strategizing, organizational skills, and being flexible with your delivery will serve you as an entrepreneur and an inventor for the rest of your career. If, after reading through this, you feel like you may not be able to handle all of this on your own, don’t give up hope. You may still be able to see your inventions in stores, if you take another approach like licensing or selling your patent to a person, retailer, or manufacturer who can handle the hassle for you.