But when you do make that all important breakthrough, you need to have absolutely everything sorted and ready to go. You need to prove you're professional and organised enough to be on a supermarket's shelves, and that you can deliver on every part an agreement you make with them.
Use this mindmap to remind you what you should be doing at every stage of the process.
Complete idea: Supermarkets don't have time to help you develop any part of your product. That means all branding, packaging and strategy need to be finished as well your actual product if you want to get their attention.
Marketing: A supermarket will want to see that you've got an achievable marketing plan in place. They have to be able to sell your product - but they ain't going to do any of the hard work for you.
Accreditations: Any certifications you can get to verify the quality of your product will go down well. Supermarkets can't put out anything that might be faulty or, worse, dangerous.
Sales history: If you have it, show evidence of your product's popularity: sales figures and any particularly shining testimonials. Make data quick and easy to digest.
Non-competitive with own brand: Supermarkets want to sell their own brand products. Don't compete directly with something they've already created. Find different USPs that'll make them want and need your product.
Units: This is the word all supermarkets will use for amounts of your product. Use it, and start sounding more on their level.
Distribution: A supermarket might ask for 10,000 units in one store, or they might ask for 25 units in 500 stores across the country. You need to prove you would be capable of delivering both - and make sure you can still do it cost-effectively.
Overtrading risk: Don't push your capacity to the limits. If you try to fill too many orders and you don't get paid on time or something in your supply chain faults, you could end up not delivering to a supermarket on time - and you definitely don't want to be on their blacklist.
Buyer: This is the person you want to get hold of. A store may have buyers for specific types of product (bodycare buyer, organic buyer and so on) - make sure you target the right one.
Face-to-face: Don't settle for being fobbed off - if someone asks you to just send in a product sample, it'll probably get dumped on a heap and forgotten about. Push hard - but politely -for a face-to-face meeting.
Samples: Always, always, always take plenty of samples of your product to any meeting with anyone at a supermarket.
Trial: Offer a trial period if the supermarket buyer isn't biting at your offer. A few units in a couple of stores for a couple of months can give you a chance to prove your product's worth without leaving the buyer with a big financial risk.
Shelf-space: Make sure you discuss exactly what shelf-space you're getting - how many stores, where they are, how many products in each store and for how long. This will likely be a negotiating hot-spot for you.
Price: Watch out for clauses on negotiation on price - they'll try to squeeze you further down the line. Read everything thoroughly and don't overlook the worth of professional legal advice.
Exclusivity?: A supermarket might only offer an exclusive contract, but this may mean they'll offer you more support and sales, and it will make your logistics easier. Then again, you risk missing out on sales elsewhere. If you do sign an exclusive contract, make sure the exclusivity cause expires within a year or two.
Fall-back plan: What happens if the supermarket doesn't renew the contract after an initial six-month trial? Forward-plan for every eventuality.
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