First, be realistic. When it comes to choosing the shelves you hope to see your products on, consider whether the retailer makes sense. Ask yourself if your product has the broad appeal that a store like Target or Walmart will demand. Consider whether you can manage the lower margins you’ll get in exchange for higher volume — more than a few suppliers, in their quest for placement in a big-box retailer, have found themselves losing money on orders. And don’t sell yourself short — if your products are too upscale for mass retail, you may find yourself erasing a lot of the hard work you have already put into branding.
What about the requirements of the retailer? If you’re a vendor on Amazon, for example, you’ll need to be able to meet their demands. Brick-and-mortar retailers often have very specific requirements for EDI compliance. Don’t forget that you only get one chance to make a first impression — when you land a big order from the buyer of a major retail chain, be sure your company is ready to put its best foot forward.
Remember that the retail landscape includes a lot more than the most well-known chains like Target or Walmart. There are scores of retail chains that are major players in specific parts of the country — Stein Mart, Meijer, Dillard’s, HEB, Fred Meyer — and some of them may be more receptive to your products than national store brands. Don’t overlook them.