Being in real stores, awesome? Awesome!
Last November, a couple of products we make were “validated” by visitors of a really great annual market in Montreal named Souk @ Sat. Just a week after the doors of the event closed, we decided to take a chance on selling them in a real store to real people.
Having your products featured in a store is a unique feeling: a mixture of excitement and fear.
Until we get on those shelves, we always thought it to be nearly impossible and required too much talent and sweat. Well, I must admit it requires sweat. A lot of it. Here is how we did it and what you can take away from it. Again, this is just part of our experience and note that there isn’t only one path to achieve this goal.
STEP 1. HAVE REAL STUFF TO SELL
This could sound obvious but don’t even bother going into a shop with simple photos or sketches. A lot of people do this mistake and just end up being turned away. Only doers are listened to seriously and as it happens, you often only have one shot with a shop. Bring your items and show them so that they can admire your seriousness and the benefits they can take from it.
STEP 2. FIND SHOPS
Go directly to the shops you love, those you really really want to be in. Don’t try to be featured in places you don’t like because your relationship with the owners are MUCH more important than the items you sell there or even the benefits you could get from there.
You can search through places you already know but also by looking at where your close competitors are already – just check their website!
STEP 3. BE SERIOUS (AND FRIENDLY)
Be crystal clear on your stock, prices, refill and return policies. Have a contract signed before any transaction happens. A badly written contract led us to failure one time and we’ll never do this mistake again. In a couple of weeks, I will also make a post explaining which types of arrangements you can have with shops and how to make an efficient follow-up.
Come and see your shops as much as possible. Just to talk. Don’t try to bother them with placing your products differently because they know better than you what really sells in their store. If your relationship is good, your sales will follow naturally.
STEP 4. LISTEN
Store owners are literally gold mines. Listen to their precious feedback: they are both what your customers think AND your next steps in terms of development. Often, we were told to make this type of cards instead of that one, to raise or lower prices on certain items, to try and package items together… You don’t need to have plenty of them because only one can help you drive your business in the good direction sometimes.
Conceive, build, show, turn and be tight on your follow-up: this is, according to us, the ultimate sequence in which to start being where you always wanted to be.