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Are you overwhelmed by the varying complexity of selling to major retailers? If you’re trying to get your product into one of the big box stores, be sure to ask yourself the following questions before getting in the game:

  • Are you prepared to navigate through the different channels required by major retailers?
  • Do you have all of the materials ready ahead of time? If you’re not prepared on the front end, it may cost you in the long run.
  • There are lots of unknowns when getting started, and it requires a lot of details – are you ready and capable to manage that on top of running your business?

While you may have been concentrating on selling your products to small-time retailers up until now, you may be thinking about branching out in the near future. However, selling to major retailers is a whole different ballgame, one you’ll need to be prepared for before you begin. If you’re not prepared for the 8 key things below, you have the possibility of failure.

Most manufacturers aspire to sell goods to major retailers like Wal-Mart and Home Depot, but often fail to understand the requirements and capital it requires to do so. Heed these tips in order to be successful:

  1. Cash flow & funding – Many retailers require longer payment terms and often times the manufacturer requires payment upfront causing for difficult cash flow issues if your orders are not timed correctly.
  2. Special handling and preparation of products – Often times retailers require special hang tags, repackaging the products or special barcodes to be added. This adds lead time to getting the orders to the retailer. Often, manufacturers don’t handle these requests. This is where the fulfillment partner comes into play. If this is not done properly, upon receipt, retailers will charge you penalties that may strip out your profit. If this work is done by a fulfillment company, and done right, this could save you in the long run.
  3. EDI Integration & Drop Shipping – Most retailers require some kind of electronic communication such as EDI to send and receive info on orders, to send invoices/PO’s and shipping updates. , there is a growing trend where major retailers will also sell on their online market place separately or in conjunction with their brick and mortar stores. With market place orders, you often have to fulfill those orders direct.
  4. Seasonality of purchasing – The timing of purchasing from major retailers is usually seasonally whether it be spring, summer, the holidays, etc. …
  5. Importing – The more prepared you are on this, can lower costs. Often times if you don’t choose the right Customs Broker/Freight Forwarder, this can delay your shipment and/or increase costs if not using the right one based on the country and shipping lanes. There are thousands of providers – if you choose the wrong one – your shipment get lost, stuck in customs, deal with many fines if not properly.etc
  6. UPC Codes – Most retailers require purchasing of UPC codes for the products you sell. This is another process that you need to have sorted out prior to going to a major retailer.
  7. Scheduled Shipment Dates – When retailers give you a purchase order, they will typically provide you a window to ship the goods, or a specific date. If you miss these deadlines, your entire order has the possibility of being cancelled.
  8. Product Quality Assurance – If your product is being made for the first time, you will need to validate the product quality. Don’t expect to receive your shipment in from the manufacture and quickly ship out to the retailer. You’ll want to have enough time to inspect the product and then get it to the retailer.

At Fulfilltopia, we have the right systems in place to help get you started with major retailers. Our experience in e-commerce fulfillment allows us to help your navigate your way through the shipping and fulfillment requirement and processes that major retailers expect and demand. Contact us today for a free quote!

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