Hey everyone. This is Karen Waksman, founder of Retail MBA. Today, we’re going to be talking about selling your food and specialty food product to retail chains. If you want some quick tips and strategies, just wanted to give you some ideas and things to think about and how to get started today. So this means selling to supermarkets and/or anywhere else that sells food and specialty food products.
So before we begin, I just want to give you a quick background about who I am and why I know what I’m talking about. Again, I’m Karen Waksman, founder of Retail MBA. I’ve personally sold millions of units of products to the world’s largest retailers as a manufacturer’s rep, which is a sales rep that sells product to retailers. Started my career out back in early 2000’s, and for the last 11 years have actually taught close to 50,000 or more companies across the globe on selling to retail chains, online retailers, catalog, small retailers, HSN, QVC, and so forth.
Basically what we do is we help people actualize their dreams of getting into stores. And so part of the reason we create these trainings is to give some people some food for thought and understanding their industry as a whole. So anyways, let’s talk about the food and specialty food industry and some things to think about for retailers.
First of all, you’re dealing with food, so you have more complications than other product categories. We work with people in every product category and certain categories have certain things that they have to deal with. And for you guys, food and specialty food, you’re dealing with FDA labeling requirements. Obviously if it’s organic, this and that, there’s just specific things that you’re going to have to look into to ensure that you’re not going to get yourself in trouble, because obviously you’re in sending products out of the world that people are ingesting. And so the retailers really, really care about that. Basically all retailers that want to work with their suppliers will list what they need from you in advance. So if you want to do Google search and say, you want to sell to Safeway grocery store or something like that, just do a Google search, type in Safeway vendor. And what you’ll see is they usually have a website for vendors, and usually there’ll be some compliance information and so forth.
So you definitely want to take a look at that. What they’re looking for. They list it out a lot of times because there’s just so many companies coming at them. So they just like to share the data in advance. So definitely take a look at their vendor portals and see what’s going on in terms of their interests and regulation. So definitely need to be careful about the words you use. Definitely need to comply with federal and local regulations when it comes to food.
You also need to think about things like the nutritional statements and so forth. Obviously you’re going to have to do your homework and understanding the industry as a whole before you launch. Definitely want to walk stores, take a look at different products, similar to yours, see what they’re putting on their packaging. What they’re saying, the words they’re using. Obviously they’re on store shelves, so if somebody told them something about what to place there and so forth, so you definitely want to do your market research to ensure that you’re not going to cause yourself problems.
And also go online, do your research on the regulations and stuff for products. Obviously, they’re going to make sure that you’re warehousing whatever you’re doing is to store the products is clean and safe and sanitary, and all those things that really matter. Obviously, companies who are buying from you. So again, there is a opportunity to do a little bit of homework and research before you go after stores.
By the way, there is a great book that is out in the world that you should definitely take a look at. It is Specialty Food Retailers. Just do a Google search for that book. There are companies that have written books in the past on how to sell specialty food products to retailers. And so there’s a variety of different ones online, and you can just purchase them on Amazon or whatever, but they’ll usually have endless books out there online about products and specialty foods, and what needs to happen and so forth. A lot of people have written books about this. So you definitely want to take a look at that and do some homework.
But the basic data is that there are companies out there who’ve already talked about specialty foods and generating revenue with them, and they list all that stuff and you can buy those books out online and so forth. Anyways, things to consider when you’re selling a food product. You’re dealing with distributors. It’s very, very common distributors or third parties who generally have the relationship with the retailers and they buy your product, and then they resell it to retailers typically. The problem with working with distributors is they take a nice hefty fee for their efforts, and so you’re going to have to account for that if you’re dealing with a distributor. You’re dealing with perishable foods, you’re dealing with lots of things going on and the retailers like working with distributors in certain product categories, because they don’t have to deal with the mess of the whole thing.
So a lot of times distributors handle the shipping and/or the deliverability and/or the organizing of things and so forth. And some categories you don’t really need to worry about distributors and so forth. Other categories, it’s a big deal. Unfortunately, with food, you’re going to have to deal with that. Now, one thing to consider is that grocery chains deal with perishable foods constantly, so they have a lot of opportunity in their local regions and regional regions and stuff to buy products and so forth.
There’s more to say on that and we do have other trainings on this, but something to consider is just that you’re dealing with a local. If you’re going to sell to a chain store, they do have the ability to get perishable foods quickly in their local area and so forth, which is going to require you to just do a little bit more work, just because you got to rush to make sure that the product is obviously going to do well for stores and so forth. It’s not going to go bad and these types of things.
So again, the retailers will walk you through what they need and where you are going to ship products to and so forth. It’s definitely something to explore further before you launch your food product and that requires you to learn some stuff about the food industry. And again, there’s a lot of resources out there online that talks about this. Packaging is essential to your success. Obviously with specialty foods, if you’re selling a barbecue sauce, there’s a lot of barbecue sauces for instance, you just want to make sure that you’re doing a good job. Differentiate yourself from the competition.
We do a whole training on packaging and stuff, but be on the lookout for the different videos we created on that. But the essence is, is that in terms of competitive nature of certain categories, packaging, you could have a mediocre product with magical packaging and you could probably convert better in very hectic markets. And so food is one of those markets. So something to consider. Basically, all I’m really saying is spend a little bit more money on your packaging for this product category.
In general, you should always do that, because one chain store order can mean millions of dollars to your business and your bottom line. But it’s something to think about. If you want to learn more about your industry, definitely take a look at the Fancy Food Show. It’s a trade show that a lot of people go to, and I think they have an East coast and West coast and so forth as of now. So definitely when you can, go take a look at what’s going on with your industry, your competition, and so forth. And the reason for that is just because it helps you understand as a whole who’s doing well, who’s not, what they’re doing.
It’s very, very important for you to get involved in your industry and your category to understand the world as a whole. So if I can give you any quick tips and strategies, it’s just that you do need to do your market research and understand what you need to do and utilize before you reach out to stores in terms of regulations, in terms of compliance and so forth. That’s something that you do not want to reach out to retailers until you have figured it all out, because they just can’t buy from you. So you definitely need to remember that retailers are looking to purchase things on the spot. They are purchasing agents. They don’t have time for you to go figure this out after you reach out to them. So you want to do that stuff in advance.
With that said, if you want to learn more and spend some time with us, we actually have a webinar coming up. If you go to retailmba.com/free, all you got to do is sign up. It’s a free training and they’re typically 90 minutes, and we really go into a lot more detail on how buyers operate, what makes them more inclined to buy and so forth. And the reason we do this is because we love educating and supporting people across the globe on generating revenue with their products. We work with a ton of food products, and we just love to support you.
If you are looking for more information on how to approach, pitch and sell to retail chains, you can take a look at our live events. We do virtual events as well as events in physical form. We do masterclasses quarterly. We have a year long coaching training system and so forth. We’ve had tremendous success with all of our systems. We have a done for you programs and so forth, all listed on retailmba.com.
And ultimately we just help people with their pitch and their pricing and packaging, the words to use. And most of the people that come to us have zero buyer relationships and so forth. They’re just trying to scale and grow. And if you want to take a look at our testimonials page on retailmba.com, you can see how many successes and how great things have happened for people. We love to do that for you.
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We’d love to support you with stores. So keep in touch with us and thanks again. The Retail MBA, Karen Waksman. I hope this helped. And we look forward to continuing the conversation with you. Thanks so much.