By Vanessa Ting
Endcaps and sidecaps are largely used to drive a sharp lift in sales in a short period of time. Therefore the expectations for the sales volume they will generate are HIGH – and typically not achievable for most newcomers to achieve. These “programs” are in-and-out programs. Meaning, this space is allocated for a limited time. And, buyers have to compete with other buyers to win this temporary space. To win the space, they have to propose an endcap or sidecap program that will earn their retailer the most sales and profits. And if buyers win this space, it gives them a huge leap forward in meeting their individual financial performance goals.
Because buyers are awarded endcap/sidecap space for a limited time, buyers primarily use endcaps and sidecaps for one of two reasons: 1) to quickly pick up additional sales and profits to bring them closer to their financial goals or, 2) to try out a new product that is not currently sold in their stores to see if it has future potential.
About 95% of the time buyers choose to use this space for reason #1. After all, it is all about making money. They choose items that are known sellers because they know it will rake in the most sales. Often times the manufacturer of those known sellers will give additional funding to help the buyer compete for that space.
Most of you will not be able to win sidecaps or endcaps based on reason #1. Not yet at least. But I have clients who have won space based on reason #2. How did they do this? By having an innovative product and a strong business rationale that gives the buyer confidence in your product. Remember, that buyer has the option of putting a proven seller in that space which is a “sure thing.” So if you want to unseat the “sure thing”, your product better prove worth the risk. How? Demonstrate a strong business case for why the buyer should take the leap of faith. This includes showing:
- your brand has appropriate consumer awareness and marketing support
- your product convincingly solves an unmet consumer need
- your product effectively communicates its difference from other products in the market
- your product has packaging and branding that is executed per the retailer’s expectations
- your product has the right retailer markup and retail price
- you’ve identified the potential pitfalls and risks and have provided contingency plans to reassure the buyer
All of these items, when in place, will prove that you have a product worth risking a “sure thing” for. But it still won’t be easy. My clients had to pitch several sidecaps/endcaps programs before eventually making the cut. With my help, they were able to shorten that learning curve and become a serious contender.
While regional retailers are more flexible than national retailers, the thought process the buyer goes through as described above is the same. So don’t wait until you hit the big guys before you get your ducks in a row. Start now. And the rest of your path to big retail will be that much smoother.