Wholesale Loyalty: How to Make Big Retailers Love Your Brand

Are you a small food and beverage brand looking to catch your big break?

You’ll almost certainly want to crack the US retail market — led by the likes of Walmart, Target, and Whole Foods — which generates over $5.3 trillion in sales a year

But how can you get your product on the highly competitive shelves of the retail industry’s biggest names? 

Keep reading to find out. 

7 ways to attract big retailers and get your products flying off the shelves

There’s a lot of work that goes into securing a wholesale deal with big-name retailers. But to get started, here are seven ways you can improve your chances of signing on the dotted line. 

  • Make sure your brand is hitting all the right notes

  • Branding is everything in retail. It’s what’ll set you apart from your competitors and grab the attention of potential stockists. That’s why it’s so important to tick all the right branding boxes before you start approaching the big guys. 

    You’ll need a… 

    • Defined visual identity, in terms of your logo, packaging, and brand guidelines — all expertly targeted at your ideal customer 
    • Professional, functional and well-designed website that perfectly pitches your brand to potential customers (and retailers!) 
    • Clear brand story that communicates who you are, what you do, and what you care about (values are key here) 

    Getting these right will show a potential retailer that your product has a unique identity that’ll help it jump off the shelves. 

    Ultimately, you need to make sure that you’re a brand — not just any old company

    That means tapping into the values of your customers, and using them to position your business in a unique and marketable way. This might include: 

    • Putting quality first 
    • Being transparent 
    • Delivering gold-standard customer service 
    • Having a wider mission beyond just making money 
    • All of the above!

    89% of shoppers stay loyal to brands that share their values. Retailers know that — and that’s what they’ll be looking for when bringing in new stock. Keep that at the forefront, and you’ll be on the right track. 

    Red and green grocery bags filled with shopping

  • Be market-ready 

  • This might seem obvious but you’d be surprised by how many brands reach out to retailers when they’re simply not ready for the shelves. 

    No retail buyer is going to give your product the time of day if it’s not where it needs to be. Sure, they might be open to making a few tweaks here and there, but if your product — as a whole — isn’t near the finishing line, you’re going to struggle to impress. 

    That’s why you should make sure your product could be stocked tomorrow — or as close to tomorrow as possible — before you start booking meetings. This means having a finished product (no prototypes!), an ironed-out supply chain, locked-in trademarks, and customer feedback that proves your product is ready for the market. 

  • Develop a content marketing strategy 

  • Remember the phrase, “content is king”? That applies to winning over retailers, too. 

    Why? Because the more quality content you have, the bigger audience you’ll have, and the bigger audience you’ll have, the more attractive your brand will be to potential retailers. 

    Think about it: if you’ve got a solid online audience, you’ll be able to prove your existing popularity and use that to secure new orders. You can build an online audience by creating content and marketing it to your ideal customer, either organically or with paid ads. Either way, your content marketing strategy should focus on: 

    • Growing a social media presence 
    • Building an email list 
    • Posting blog articles to your website 
    • Getting users to buy your product

    All of which will raise your profile and give your brand the social-proof retailers are increasingly looking for in today’s online era. 

    A man holds up a mobile phone with an Instagram post of a burger on it

  • Encourage customer reviews (and shout about them!)

  • Talking about social proof, customer reviews could be your secret weapon when trying to woo big retailers. That’s because 95% of customers read reviews before making a purchase, and just five reviews can increase the chance of a product being purchased by 270%. 

    Retailers know statistics like these and are actively looking for products that already have a solid reputation. They’re less risky, earn a higher ROI, and don’t need such a big marketing push — all of which is music to the ears of margin-tight retailers. 

    So, do all you can to score customer reviews that put your product in a positive light. You can do this by:

    • Actually asking for reviews (not every brand does!) 
    • Making it easy for customers to leave a review 
    • Encouraging reviews by running competitions and offering discounts 

    Do that, and we’re sure any potential retail buyer will be impressed. 

  • Target retailers that are the perfect fit

  • It’s all well and good booking meetings with retailers, but the real key to success is booking meetings with the right kind of retailers. 

    This comes down to aligning your product to retailers that would actually stock it, as well as those that have the same customers you want to reach. 

    Pitching a premium product? You’ll need a premium retailer. 

    Bringing a budget alternative to the market? You’ll want the opposite. 

    When creating your product, try to imagine it on the shelves of specific stores and in the hands of specific customers. Reflect that in everything you do, and you’ll have a much better shot at turning that idea into reality. 

  • In a trending category or niche? Milk it!

  • Just like brands, retailers need to stay ahead of the curve — and that’s why products in trending and popular categories will always be first in line for the shelves. 

    Hot categories in the Consumer Packaged Goods sector today include:

    • Plant-based foods 
    • Organic goods 
    • Free from products 
    • Protein-rich foods 
    • Healthy alternatives

    If you’re in one of those niches, put that front and center of everything you do — in your meetings, in your branding, in your packaging, online... everywhere! It’ll grab the attention of potential stockists and position your product as the one they need to stay on-trend. 

  • Be clear about what makes your brand (and products) different 

  • What makes your product unique? 

    • Is it to you and your story? 
    • Does it reinvent the wheel? 
    • Is it an innovative take on a classic?
    • Does it blow the competition out of the water? 

    Ask yourself questions like these, and really get to the bottom of WHY a retailer is going to want to stock you over someone else. 

    Once you’ve got to the core of what makes you stand out, demonstrate why that’s the case in your branding and wider messaging and make that a big part of your product pitch. 

    Retailers are always looking for something new and exciting; something that’ll intrigue customers and get them reaching for the shelves. Prove you’ve got just that and they’ll find it hard to turn you down — especially if you’re scoring all the other goals we’ve outlined today. 

    Need a helping hand?

    You’re in the right place. 

    Here at Buffalo Market, we’ve helped thousands of mission-driven CPG products get on some of the most sought-after shelves.

    Head over to our blog for top tips and expert advice on how you can achieve the same, and get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help you on your journey. 

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