How should I approach companies once I have a product sample/proposal?
August 26, 2014 10:55 PM   Subscribe

I came up a product idea and made a sample/prototype but I have no idea how to go next. I know my target store customers but how to I get in touch with them. Is it appropriate to call them (customer service) up and ask who I should talk to? If I do get buyer's contact info, should I contact multiple buyers that are in the same company? Please let me know what you think, thanks!
posted by lanhan to Work & Money (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you don't have anything to sell to the buyer yet.
posted by ryanrs at 2:05 AM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

You should start with mom and pop local stores. Single stores owned by the people working the store.
Go to the store when it is quiet, and talk to the owner.

Build up a track record with a few local stores. If you do well there, then try to make contact with other stores.
Unless you are going in with a million dollar plan, you want to start small.
posted by Flood at 5:02 AM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Will you produce it yourself or do you have a fabricator lined up? Have you figured out the packaging? The pricing? Do you have your IP matters addressed? If so, you can sell it on Amazon and/one exhibit at the appropriate trade show where your target retailers go to look for products.
posted by carmicha at 6:08 AM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you have a wholesale price figured out? Are you sure? It isn't easy to raise your wholesale price after you've established some customers. Do you have your minimum order figured out? All the options (color/size/etc.)? Do you have your packaging locked down?

What kind of stores are you hoping to get into? That will affect things a lot. Are we talking Target/Wal-Mart or are we talking local hardware or gift store?

The trade and exhibition shows are really good for this, you buy a booth and take orders from stores. Now, those stores aren't going to wait for you to find a manufacturer so you'll need to be ready to fulfill orders on a pretty reasonable timeline (like within 3 months). Without knowing the kind of product we can't really tell you which tradeshows but there are retailer gift shows in Vegas, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, NY. Those are the ones I'm most familiar with. But there are also ones for pretty much every kind of store. Buyers from national chains and local mom and pops and everything in between are at these shows.
posted by magnetsphere at 7:08 AM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another approach would be to use Kickstarter first. You could still go to stores afterward, but at that point you'd be able to prove that there's actually interest in your product and that you know how to successfully mass manufacture it.
posted by three_red_balloons at 9:28 AM on August 27, 2014

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