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Tips for Attending a Food Trade Show Part 2

Money making questions to ask distributors, retailers and food brokers

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 Continued from  Part 1 Tips for Attending a Trade Show... Be smart! Pound the trade show pavement with these money making questions.

Distributors

  • Determine if they are a grocery, non perishable distributor, frozen or refrigerated. Some distributors perform service for all 3 categories.
  • Do you have sales force? How do I prepare to present to them?
  • Do you need to have [X] amount of retailers before they would carry your line? This is the chicken and egg dilemma. It goes something like this:
    • Distributor says “these are great items so come back to me when you have some retailers and we will consider adding your line.”
    • Retailer says, “these are great items. My distributors are “NAME” and “NAME”. Come back to me when you have one of these distributors and we will consider adding your line”.
  • What chains would be a best fit for my brand?
  • What are your margin expectations for products such as mine?
  • Are their slotting fees expected from my brand “. Be cautious on this question since you don’t want to give them a reason to say yes… so you might want to see if the offer that information.
  • For my product, what is the category you consider my brand to fall within?
  • Do they buy your category 12 months a year or do they go by a buying calendar that shows the time period they are considering new items in your category.
  • How do I start the process of pitching my product to the buyer/merchandiser? They should be able to either articulate a summary or will tell you to contact them after the show. Most distributors and retailers have new vendor “packages”… lots of forms to fill out.
  • Make note of your sales velocity to add credibility to your brand. If you are beyond the idea stage and are a real product, numbers are solid indicators of your performance.

Retailers

  • Do you need to have a distributor in place before they will consider buying your products? Again this is the chicken and egg dilemma. It goes something like this:
    • Retailer says, “these are great items. My distributors are “NAME” and “NAME”. Come back to me when you have one of these distributors and we will consider adding your line”.
  • Do you consider a brand that will direct ship?
    • Warehouse – some retailers have their own warehouse, also referred to as a Distribution Center(DC) so direct ship means sending product to the warehouse. See LTL information above.
    • Direct to Store – you may find retailers that will allow you to ship via UPS to an individual store or stores.
  • For my product, what is the category you consider I fall within?
  • Do they buy your category 12 months a year or do they follow a buying calendar that shows the time period they are considering new items in your category.
  • What are your margin expectations for products such as mine?
  • Are their slotting fees expected from my brand? . Again, be cautious on this question since you don’t want to give them a reason to say yes… so you might want to see if the offer that information.
  • What are their expectations on sales velocity for your category?
  • How often do you review sales figures?
  • What is “my” trial period before you review my line to keep in on the shelf? Retailers know that it takes time for a new brand to scale so they look at anywhere from 3 to 6 months.
  • How do I start the process of pitching my product to the buyer/merchandiser? In other words you want to know how much information to have in your presentation materials. They should be able to either articulate a summary or will tell you to contact them after the show. Most retailers have new vendor “packages”… lots of forms to fill out.
  • Make note of your sales velocity to add credibility to your brand. You are beyond the idea stage and are a real product so numbers are solid indicators of your performance.

 

Food Brokers

Before you approach them read Food Brokers-Partners in Successful New Product Launch.

  • Do you need to have retailers and/or distributors in place before they would consider representing your line?
  • What is their Commission Structure?
  • Do they have a Retainer Structure for new brands they represent? These typically have up to a 6 month duration. Be cautious on this question since you don’t want to give them a reason to say yes… so you might want to see if the offer that information.
  • What Channels do they specialize in? For example there are some brokers that solely focus on the Natural/Organic Channel.
  • Who do they call on? In other words what are the retailers they work with?
  • What type of “sales package” are they expecting you to give them to represent your line.
  • Make note of your sales velocity to add credibility to your brand. You are beyond the idea stage and are a real product so numbers are solid indicators of your performance.
  • Read 5 Keys to Retail Success for Your Food Business to learn more about brokers and distributors

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