Big box stores, such as Target, Walmart, and Costco, get millions of customers each year. In fact, according to WalmartStores.com, they get over 250 million customers a year. So it’s no surprise that many businesses are looking for ways to get their products on the shelves of such stores. If you sell a product that you think a big box store would carry, it could increase your profits exponentially, give you more exposure, and provide your company with the sustainability it needs to be successfully in the current economy However, it isn’t as easy as filling out an application and waiting for a call. You need to follow several steps in order to be approved as a vendor for such stores.
1) Have a successful track record. You can’t expect to be approved as a vendor at big box stores without having the track record to prove you can sell a large number of items. Your success as a company is what proves to the box store that your products will sell and make them a profit. This includes showing your sales at local brick-and-mortar stores, online, and trade shows you have attended.
2) Have a one-of-a-kind product. You should also have a product that isn’t already found at the store you’re trying to jump on board with. If they have another vendor selling the same type of items, why would they approve your application? You should have a product that will not only sell to the masses, but is unique and will actually draw more customers to the store where your one-of-a-kind products are being sold.
3) Have more than one product. Your chances are improved with the big box store if you have more than one product you can sell. If your business can provide the store with an entire product line, rather than just a single product, you are increasing the probability that they will accept you as a vendor.
4) Be able to make change. As a vendor of a big box store, you’ll need to be open to suggestions and making changes to your product if they see fit. This may include changing your packaging to reflect current styles or trends, or even lowering the price of your products. If you aren’t willing to make these changes, then selling at big box stores isn’t for you.
5) Fill out vendor application. When you meet the aforementioned guidelines, you should look further into the box store you want to sell your product in, and find out about additional guidelines. If you meet every one of them, it is time to start the application process. Fill out the application fully and honestly, providing any documentation or information they request. After submitting your finished application and documentation, you should expect to wait several weeks before getting a denial, or a request for a meeting. Resist from following up with the store unless you haven’t heard back for 2-3 weeks.
6) Obtain a meeting with the big box retailer. Getting a meeting with the big box store isn’t easy, but it can be done as long as your application is finished and you meet guidelines that cause your business or product to stand out. If you’re lucky enough to be approved for a meeting, you already have your foot in the door and need to prepare for the pitch.
7) Prepare and make a pitch. The pitch is one of the most important aspects of getting approved as a vendor for a big box retailer. If you aren’t 100% confident in your communication methods or as a salesperson, you should hire a representative to handle the meeting. Prepare for the pitch with any products you would like to showcase at the meeting, and carefully document what should be said during the pitch.
8) Be prepared for increased volume. When you decide to bring your product line to a big box store, you are increasing your volume to brand new levels. Your manufacturer should be fully prepared to make the change, and be able to produce the higher number of products while keeping the same amount of quality. If you have made sure this is possible, it is a good thing to note during your pitch to the box retailer.
Being approved for a big box retailer is often the point when a business feels they have become successful. The ultimate goal is turning over a profit, and with the amount of customers these retailers get on a daily basis, you will be giving your business its best shot. Prepare for your application and pitch before attempting to make the leap in order to increase your chances.