Launching a new product into the market takes a lot of time, effort, and money. A product launch is one of the most important aspects to running a business, especially if that business includes a retail aspect to it. You might have seen a number of adverts in both print and TV mediums that try to familiarize customers with the product itself long before it actually hits the stores. Timing is everything. In some cases, however, marketing the goods itself in mass media may not be possible. There are a number of things that come in the way of doing this, mainly, money.
There is, however, an oft overlooked aspect to marketing products that you might have heard of- through C store distributors. C stores or convenience stores are selling points that deal directly with the end customer. So you have your product ready, you manufactured them yourself, or assembled them locally, have a product that has the potential to sell in large numbers, but you have no idea on how to take it to the people. You can’t sell directly, that is too time consuming and may not work in your favor. That is where C store distributors come to play.
Why launch through a distributor
Distributors are in direct contact with C stores and have a large network of outlets that they have built over time. In addition to having a number of outlets where they can help inject your product, they also have details on what type of customers can be expected in each location based on the type of products that move fast in these centers. In many cases, you might be dealing with thousands, if not hundreds of retailers for your products. If you are unable to make widespread adverts about your product, this might be the best way to take your product to the masses.
The vast network of channels that each distributor has is extremely valuable. It would take many years to build such a network and you do not have that amount of time or the resources to make it happen. Another massive advantage with using a Convenience Store distributor is that there is a level of trust that they have built up with C stores. For many years, distributors have brought in and given only the best products to sell and they can make use of that angle to push your product as well. The same can be said of retailers, especially the smaller ones where people trust the shop clerk to only stock quality products. They become influencers to their own customers and marketing through influencers is one of the best ways to sell. There is no stronger impression than one that can be created through word of mouth.
Most Convenience Store distributors also give you assurance of a display or shelf in the C store where you can display and sell your goods. A small fee will be charged for this.
Advantages of marketing through distributors
• The first and most obvious advantage is the cost. You do not need to advertise in the papers, in local TV or anywhere. All that money can be saved and used instead to bring the product to the market through stores.
• Direct selling is the next major advantage. Your product is in the hands of the end consumer and they can try it out directly. There is no need for them to be swayed by literally anything. They see and hold the product first hand, if they like it, they buy it, if the product is worth their time and if they are satisfied with it, you have a repeat customer who will recommend it to their friends- you have a network already.
• A distributor has data on demographics, spending patterns of the locality and based on this, you can easily target the correct stores for your product. Using data, your estimates will be accurate and precise. Targeting stores that have a greater chance of you reaching the customers is possibly the best way to sell. You can also move your products faster.
• After your product is launched and moved into the market, you can then slowly start increasing your reach. You can maybe take it to a new neighborhood, a new town, or even move to another state, slowly saturating the market around you. Distributors will even have the correct information on which markets you can expand to next.
• Logistics and transportation costs will also be handled by the distributor in most cases. While you will be paying for them, it beats the cost of having to form and run your own logistics division.
• Another thing to note is that your product will receive honest and instant feedback from the end users. You need not run a campaign to get feedback. People who use it will come to the store and either complain or commend the product. If there is any change that is needed in the product, that will also come to you immediately.
• You will first be selling to distributors, so you will have to only cater to their business sense. You need to convince them that your product is worth their time, if you are successful at doing this, you are more than likely to take your product to a store where it would practically sell itself.
The process breakdown
After you convince the stores that your product, is indeed good enough for people to purchase, they will then take it to a chain store and negotiate a fee for displaying, a fee for shelves, a fee for stocking your product, and a fee to promote the product. While there are no fixed rates for any of these, depending on where you want to sell and to whom you want to sell, the price can be anywhere from $2000 to $200,000. The next thing that you will have to be prepared for is the slotting fee which is a fee that retailers might charge just to lace the product inside their store.
The idea though is that you are able to take your product directly to the customer and make it sell itself.