Starting your beauty brand is undoubtedly one of the most exciting, invigorating, and empowering things you will ever do. If you own your brand and formula, you have the power to make most of the decisions about your company and its future. One of the most important decisions you will have to make at some point if you are selling a tangible product is if you are going to sell it in stores or just online.
There are pros and cons to launching your product on a major retailer's shelf.
The Pros are:
More exposure for your brand and product
Quicker cash flow
Increased movement of product (retailers will buy in bulk)
The Cons are:
Acquiring a retail partner is more investment of time & money than a single customer
Profit Margins will be smaller as you are sharing them with the retailer
The more difficult part of getting your brand into stores, or getting the attention of the buyers. There are a few ways you can do this, and there are certain things that buyers are looking for when it comes to acquiring new brands.
Advertise on your website to show you do wholesale. If you already have accounts, list them on your site!
Reach out to local buyers. Try to get a name of a buyer and schedule a meeting where you bring samples and discuss the brand. Or, you can mail samples of your product to the company. Note, try to add a personal touch to the packaging, depending on who you are sending it to. If you know the buyer's name get packaging with their name printed on it. Don't be afraid to go all out with these samples.
And call them! Figure out who you need to talk to and call them.
Attend trade shows. Trade shows are an investment, but can be a big ticket to lots of stores and major retailers. Buyers do attend trade shows in order to find new brands to bring to their retailer.
Make sure your product fits into the standards of the store. For example, Whole Foods has a list of ingredients that they do not accept in their store. You will want to make sure that your product does not have these ingredients, and that the people that go to that store will be interested in purchasing your product.
Be prepared to answer some questions from the retailer. You will want to think about all of these questions and research before sitting down with a retailer.
What’s your unique selling proposition? What makes your product different? Typically, when buyers are sourcing new products and brands, they are looking for exactly that, NEW. Something that is not a repeat or knock-off of another product. If it isn't extremely unique, then it has to have electrifying performance qualities. Especially if you are trying to get into . store like Sephora. If you have been able to secure a meeting with the buyer, they are probably already interested.
What’s your minimum order? You can set these minimums based on units ordered or dollar amounts. Note, when you’re selling at wholesale cost, you want to establish a minimum so you can cover the cost with volume.
What’s your turnaround time? From order placed to delivery, know when your customer can expect your products.
What are your payment terms? You can request payment right before your products are ready to ship, which is the safest option. Some retailers will request to make payment after the product has been received.
How do you ship? Decide how you want to charge for shipping (domestic flat rate, by weight, etc.) and what carrier you want to use. If you are selling online, you should have an account with a shipping company such as FedEx, UPS, etc.
Do you offer insurance?
If the package gets lost or damaged what will you do? Establish an agreement with the store before indicating whose responsibility the damage/loss is after the package has been shipped. You can offer an optional insurance add-on (for an additional fee) to cover any lost packages or damages.
Exchanges and returns? Decide how you want to handle product breakage or instances when the customer is unsatisfied with the product.
Where do you want your product to be displayed? This is important, as location is everything when it comes to retail. If you have your sights set on a particular store, go to that store and walk around the isles to envision where you would like your product to be. Be prepared to pay extra for a better location on the shelf, yes, this is a thing, you have to decide how much profit you are willing to part with versus how much exposure you may get. Obviously, the best place to be is eye level, not too high on the shelf and not too low.
Getting your product into stores is a commitment. From the time of initial contact with the buyer to getting your products on the shelves, can take up to one year. There are a lot of things to think about in regards to whether selling your brand in stores is right for you. The best way to navigate this is to do as much research as possible especially on the retailers that you are striving to get your products into.