The Must Know’s About Convenience Store Distribution

It is crazy the number of product manufacturers that I speak with who have:

  • Spent 6 figures developing a product
  • Have inventory
  • Have spent a lot of time working on the product and packaging

And they still have zero sales. They don’t have anyone hitting the sales routine and they ask me what they should do?

The reason we say get a list and start small is because the convenience distributors and buyers you can reach are much more available and easier to relate to. They have less people going after them. They are accessible for you via


Start Small

The big-box retailers and health food companies that sell supplements usually have onerous expectations of vendors. Some require you to carry high levels of insurance, be listed on Dun & Bradstreet or sell your product for a minimal profit. You often are expected to provide the company with large shipments on a tight schedule and take back unsold inventory. Instead of approaching the large retailers at first, start small with locally owned health food stores and spas, Web-based retailers and boutique retailers. Approach the owners directly or fill out an application for the small stores, and use the market entry to create buzz for your product. This puts you in a better bargaining position when you approach larger retailers. ~


Sell at independents

Start small and sell at independent shops and even Web shops. The more exposure and sales you get the better, creating legitimacy for your product, so you can approach the big retailers and say, “I sell 10,000 widgets a day, perhaps you’d like to sell them, too?”

Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Look for ways to get the appointment and get it fast.


Make contact with a buyer or category manager. Call the buyer or category manager who handles your type of product and determine when and how frequently they look at new products. Be sure to ask about their policies and procedures for carrying new products. If the buyer expresses an interest in meeting you, set a time for a presentation, which will be on their turf (meaning there may be some traveling in your future).

Some companies, such as pet supply retailer PETCO , have monthly, quarterly or annual open vendor days, where prospective vendors can schedule appointments for a 30-minute meeting to present their merchandise. In most instances–that’s if the meeting goes well and they want to do business with you–vendors are expected to be able to supply the chains with product within 30 days of the meeting.

When you get that appointment. What are you going to say? That is the focus of this post. How to turn the heads of convenience store buyers at tradeshows and how to present to anyone and get the deal.

Sell my existing customers an average of one new product apiece: Send out fifty letters per week suggesting an account evaluation, call five customers per day to ask about their status, contact every new customer within two weeks of purchase

So you want to gain more product placement into the accounts you call on. You want to gain more products into the retail stores you service as a broker. You want to close your first deal. They all start the same place. The presentation. You have the appointment. You have to be ready to fire on all cylinders when you walk in.

  • When creating a presentation, it is important to keep in mind that we are all different and we all like different things and therefore don’t make your presentation too complicated. Keep it simple but up to date and unique. There are a lot of systems / software’s that you can use to make sure that your presentation will stand out! Remember the aim is to create and present your presentation in an interesting way, include all the information and don’t run out of time. You want that after your presentation people will say Wow, that was a great presentation!


Make a simple power point. Go over the basics. What your product is and what market it focuses on. The major problem it solves. Literally spell it out…

  • Major Problem #1  – We solve this by…
  • We get noticed on the shelf because…
  • We looked at other successful brands and emulated them like this… – Check this out as a guide to making that killer presentation.

8- Are my slides well designed… or just decorated? Just because there are lots of really cool special effects, clip art, stock photos, and things you can do, doesn’t mean you should.

If you are really struggling with this topic I would recommend :

The biggest factor to making that buyer become convinced to carry your product and get it into their stores sooner than later is the take away. Look for effective ways to create a contest, a give-away, or a limited time event that your product is doing. Put this on the 2nd to last slide.

For the next 6 months our company will be implementing the x contest where one lucky buyer will get x. Think about simple things for a couple of grand that you give away to get into that 6 figure account. This is a big push. Obviously have everything set up and ready to go as soon as they sign. Contest like this make a big impact in why they need to get the product into their stores during the contest and promote it.

The last slide should have your contact details and expectations. Ask for the close… Ask by making them say no.


Do you see any reason that you would not want to move forward with getting my product into your store right away?

When they say no, it means yes at least for you. This is a way to break down the psychological aspect of the buyer being used to saying no. They are preconditioned to it. Use it to your advantage.