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Want to Get Your Product on Store Shelves? Start Small

By Rohit Arora
on October 26th, 2010

Rohit Arora, CEO and co-founder of Biz2Credit, is one of the country's leading experts in small business finance. Since its founding in 2007, Biz2Credit has arranged $1 billion in small business loans

Small business owners that want their products stocked on store shelves should start by targeting smaller, local businesses. An article in the New York Times explained how one California businessman convinced a local chain of stores to carry his product, Garlic Gold, a seasoning with toasted organic garlic nuggets. Now 3,000 stores across the country carry the product.

How he did it:
Brian Chossek visited Gelson’s, a Southern California 18-store grocery chain, at a slow time and talked to the produce manager, who connected him with the produce buyer. Chossek convinced the buyer to let him set up an in-store demonstration. In his first four-hour demonstration, Chossek sold 92 bottles. He continued to do in-store demonstrations every weekend for four weeks. Within six months, Garlic Gold was sold at every Gelson’s store.

The New York Times article suggests some tips other small business owners can use to get their products on store shelves:

Start Small and Local: You probably won’t get very far if you start by approaching a Wal-Mart or Target. First visit local stores, especially ones you shop in yourself. You need to build a track record before the big chains take you seriously.

Listen to the Buyers: Do your research by talking to the buyers at stores where you’d like to sell your product. What makes a similar product successful? When you pitch your product, tell them what differentiates your product from others, and take their feedback (and criticism) seriously. You might discover you need to make some changes to your marketing or packaging.

Go to Trade Shows:  Trade shows can put a small business in front of hundreds of retailers. Since trade shows can be expensive, do your homework and find ones that best match your target audience.

Consider a Broker: If you don’t have a sales staff to visit stores, you might want to hire outside brokers, who typically get paid a 5 to 15 percent commission only if they make a sale.

Create Buzz Around Your Product: Buyers will contact you if customers start requesting your product. Send samples to bloggers and other media to review the product and get your name out there.

Biz2Credit Logo This article was submitted by Rohit Arora, co-founder of Biz2Credit. Biz2Credit is a small business marketplace that connects entrepreneurs with financing options and advice to grow their business. Send all questions to