Congrats. You got your product on the retail store shelf of a regional or national chain. But, wait, some things are amiss.
Your product is not merchandised correctly. It’s not forward-facing because the store shelving doesn’t allow enough room.
The POP (point of purchase) display tray that you supplied to the retailer with your product is not being used so your product is falling down (i.e. store employees are not merchandising your product correctly).
You were told by your buyer that the product would be on the store shelf by X date and you planned a marketing program around this date – but the on-shelf date has slipped due to some retailer reason and your product won’t be on the store shelf when you were told.
As you can see, there are many things that can, and do, go haywire and that are beyond your control. But, you do have some input, say, and influence. Following are some suggestions for navigating or minimizing some of these problems:
- Be professional. You have control over your attitude and approach. So, when you approach your buyer, don’t place blame and don’t whine (even if you are pulling your hair out). State the problem and propose possible solutions – and/or be open to the buyer’s possible solutions. The buyer doesn’t want these problems either. It’s to everyone’s benefit to get them fixed.
- Visit as many stores as you can – and take photos. Due to distance, you may not be able to visit more than 1 or 2 stores. But, you can take photos of what is happening at your local store(s). Ask your friends/family to help you by visiting their local store(s) and ask them to take photos of your product on the store shelf. You can then more accurately assess if a problem is limited to 1 store, or if it’s a widespread issue. By taking photos, you can share with your buyer what you are seeing and that will then allow him/her to help fix the problem. Let the buyer know where the photos were taken (i.e. store location/address).
- Don’t lock yourself into a marketing program that you can not change. Your launch date may or may not go off without a hitch. There are many things that are outside of your buyer’s control – and the on-shelf date may be delayed. As such, you don’t want to lock yourself into an expensive marketing program that you can not adjust. Find marketing programs that provide you with some flexibility so that you can make necessary adjustments without costly consequences. Also, plan that there will be delays. If you are scheduled to launch in June, for example, plan for a July or August marketing push. Give yourself some breathing room, but still support a timely launch.