New product ideas can come from anyone, anywhere. It’s been shown in the many success stories that arose from small business roots to become globally recognized brands. IBM, Ben & Jerry’s, Nike, Yankee Candle are all commonly cited examples, as well as inspirations.
It’s no wonder that many entrepreneurs dream of taking something they know has value and bringing it to more people, in bigger markets. But, making a new product a reality, getting it on more retail shelves, and in the hands of consumers doesn’t happen overnight.
Experienced small business owners can have a leg up on this process thanks to their ambition and access to a marketplace. However, developing, refining, and selling a new product is still a process that even the savviest entrepreneur will need to navigate with care.
As with any small business endeavor, a product launch takes time, investment, strategy, and resilience, but it can be extremely rewarding.
Deciding To Launch Products For Retail
Obviously, all successful products start with a solid concept. This doesn’t have to be a completely new invention or innovation, but the product will need to appeal to a customer’s wants or fulfill a need.
Rigorous prototyping, product testing, evaluation, and feedback from current customers and potential will be a necessity for even the most brilliant concepts.
Confidence will be a requirement for anyone who feels their product will go far, but new product development takes objectivity and a desire to address flaws and make improvements based on outside viewpoints.
Local shop owners who already have a unique brand and original wares are in a very favorable position for the fact that they already have a test market. For entrepreneurs who are just starting out establishing their brand, it’s best to start locally and build from there.
A new product launch doesn’t need to have a storefront; seeking out test markets within the immediate community or in niche marketplaces—so long as they are relevant—can create a powerful ripple effect.
Taking that product beyond the local community is the next step. This can be done by debuting product at trade shows, conventions, and regional or state venues.
Naturally, leveraging e-commerce and internet marketing is also effective for broadening the reach of a product, but fostering as many in-person opportunities as possible will provide valuable insight into how the product is received in a broader market.
A face-to-face interaction with new buyers is highly valuable for understanding a product’s potential appeal.
Doing so where and whenever possible builds recognition and adds to verifiable sales data, which is useful for getting other businesses to invest and put your product on their retail shelves.
How To Get Your Product In Stores
To sell in retail shops, a product should have full commercial viability. This means it can be produced consistently, reliably, and at a price point that makes it profitable for the creator or wholesaler as well as the retailer.
It also needs to have distinct appeal. This is not only to attract sales, but also to enthuse retailers.
Business owners know that their shopfronts and shelf space carry a certain value. Anything sold there is an extension of their own business. To earn that space, a product needs to have demonstrable value at the outset.
It takes a solid pitch to get retailers to understand that value. This is where early test market sales data can be so powerful.
The more an entrepreneur can prove their product is commercially appealing, the more a retailer will choose to invest. But sales figures alone won’t always be enough.
Speaking directly to shop owners and purchasing agents will go a long way. Providing samples, small quantity product launch deals, and buy-back arrangements will also help retailers mitigate their own risk and feel good about stocking and showcasing what you offer.