How To Sell Your Food Product to Grocery Stores (Part 2)

Selling your products to grocery stores is an intensive process that can reap huge rewards. In part one, we dove into the beginning phases: how to research for success, planning for profits, and preparing for orders.

Now that you’ve set yourself up for success, let’s look at what it actually takes to pitch to a buyer and get that yes.

Get to know your distributor

Before a store will take a chance on your product, they need to know that they’ll actually be able to get it first. Including information on distribution and availability will give your pitch a boost and will help to establish your credibility and professionalism.

So how do you find the right distributor, especially if you’re a brand new business? Start by reaching out to local distributors. While big companies like UNFI (United Natural Foods Inc.) and KeHE Distributors are more recognizable names in the food industry, they tend to have higher margins and minimum order requirements that might not be the best fit for small businesses. Smaller distributors are usually more accommodating to growing businesses, and are a great alternative to the bigger companies.

New food tech companies, like Pod Foods, offer an alternative to traditional distribution methods while focusing on helping small businesses grow. Pod Foods helps to connect manufacturers with retailers, simplifying the complicated food distribution market. By helping to handle fulfillment and logistics, Pod Foods is making it easier for startup brands to gain a spot in the competitive grocery industry, and allowing consumers easy access to great products.

Find the buyer

Now that you have the right product at the right cost and have a distribution plan in place, it’s time to start pitching.

The first step is to locate the right buyer. Larger stores tend to have separate buyers for each category, while smaller stores may have buyers that cover all of grocery. Additionally, when it comes to chains like Whole Foods or Sprouts, regional buyers are in place to make purchasing decisions for multiple stores in an area.

For most stores, new product presentations occur on a set schedule (monthly, quarterly, or regular open vendor days). To avoid missing out on pitching, make sure to plan well in advance and have everything prepared for the next presentation window.

Get ready to present

Buyers are busy. While your product might have a long list of highly beneficial ingredients and a fascinating origin story, a buyer simply doesn’t have the time to listen to a lengthy presentation. To avoid losing their interest, keep your pitch concise and hit the critical selling points of your product.

Did your product rise from a niche in the market that wasn’t being filled? Give the buyer a short history without getting lost in the details.

Is your product made with numerous superfoods? Emphasize the overall health benefits without describing what each ingredient does.

Practice your pitch beforehand to ensure that you’re hitting all the major points, without losing the buyer’s attention (or worse, running out of time before you get to the actual selling part!)

Know your product

Buyers are constantly seeing new products, all of which are claiming to be the best. If your product catches their eye, they’re going to want to know more about it, and they’re going to want to know immediately.

So before you start that pitch, make sure you know as much about your product as possible. Are your ingredients organic? Where is their country of origin? Is your packaging eco-friendly? Where on the shelf do you envision your product? Who are your biggest competitors? What is your suggested retail price? What is the wholesale cost for each unit?

Pitches go by fast, and buyers often make decisions on the spot. Being as prepared as possible before you start can not only make you appear more professional, it can help to clinch an order if the buyer is on the fence.

Be prepared to market

In-store sales are great tool that stores use to bring in customers and drive sales. And promotional periods are often thought out far in advance. While it may not be the deciding factor in ordering your product for the store, it’s a good idea to be able to answer any questions about deals for both the consumers, and the stores (such as buy-in deals and new item placements).

And marketing your product is another key factor that can make the difference between a yes, or a no. A buyer is going to want to make sure your product can sell, and they don’t want to put time and effort into doing your marketing for you.

Being able to present a marketing plan to show that you’ve thought about how to get consumers into their store and your product into their carts is a great way to boost confidence in not only your product, but your brand as a whole.

Finally, get ready to offer support

While offering support is not a requirement for a successful pitch, it can be a great way to signal to buyers that you are serious about selling your product. Coupons, demos, and passive samples are an easy way to increase awareness of your products and brand, and convert new shoppers.

Plus, demonstrating that you are there to support the stores can help to build relationships that will pay off in the future, when you’ve expanded your line and have new products to pitch.

growing brands into retail