There’s nothing worse than seeing your product sit on the shelf of a store and collect dust. Every product based business owner who has their product on the shelf of a retailer knows how gut wrenching it can be to see sales stall and the fear + self-doubt that starts to creep in when they do. While slow sales are never fun, retail is one major roller coaster ride so seeing these lulls can be expected. Taking a proactive approach rather than a reactive one will help you thrive during the slower selling periods and further help to cultivate your retailer relationships. Read on to learn about five actions you can take when your over the counter sales aren't as exciting as you want them to be!
Get to the Store
It’s so important to see firsthand where your product is sitting on a store’s sales floor. Relegated to poor real estate and it can absolutely impact your over the counter sales.
If you've sold to a multi-store chain, visit as many retail locations that are carrying your product as you can. One store may have you front and center while the other three have you in the back corner or you can’t find your products on the floor at all. It’s important to gather as much information as possible so you are in the best position to ask questions and discuss details, which brings me to...
Talk with your Buyer
It’s never a fun conversation when you have to admit that your product isn’t doing as well as anticipated but bringing attention to the issue shows the buyer that you’re engaged in their business and you are truly a partner. You may find that what you see is an issue isn’t terribly concerning to a buyer--perhaps they have different foot traffic patterns then you’re aware of or that seasonally, you’re on the outskirts of their best selling period. By asking questions and attacking the (possible) problem head on you’re positioning yourself to come up with creative answers when a store isn’t happy with your product’s performance rather than fielding return request emails.
Get Creative with a Promotional Strategy
No business gets excited to take a markdown or offer a discount. Unfortunately, the retail landscape nowadays consists of retail stores and companies constantly bombarding you with coupons and sales, which trains customers to wait for a discount or sale before opening their wallets. Sometimes taking a markdown has to be done in order to get the goods moving but before going down that rabbit hole, see if your buyer would be open to a different type of promotional strategy like offering a Gift With Purchase for their customers (they get a freebie, you get to move some older inventory!)
Offer to partner with the store for a special event
Nothing beats a little face time with customers! When you’re having your conversation about the slow sales with your buyer or store team find out if they have any special events on the calendar. Offer to come and hang out with your products and do some selling. You’ll get to see firsthand how customers react to your products and the store will appreciate the extra help. Plus, it will further help to cultivate your relationship with them.
Run a Contest
Sometimes store associates need a little boost from you to help them remember you exist. Remember, you’re just one of hundreds or even thousands of SKU's sitting on the floor! Sales associates tend to go with what they know so you want to be remembered as top of mind. If your products are in a store with more than a handful of associates running a contest is a low-cost option to get them to think about you and your products. Anything from a Starbucks card to Visa gift card will be exciting enough so they try and find ways to sell your products before the competition. Just make sure to run the idea by the store’s management team first!
It’s important to remember that as much as you put into trying to make a partnership work sometimes your products aren’t the best fit for that customer or store. It’s heartbreaking, but it happens. Just because a partnership ends doesn’t mean that relationship is over forever. Buyers and retail strategies change so when a partnership does end strive to leave on the best possible terms because you may find yourself working with that retailer months or years down the road!