The Secret to Breaking Into Retail

Food entrepreneurs believe passionately in their products (why else would they invest all the blood, sweat and tears?) and feel strongly that consumers will too—if only they could score retail shelf space. All too often, they hit wall after wall when trying to get grocery buyers’ attention, put samples in their hands and convince buyers to give them a shot.

An entrepreneur might call, email and stop by the store, but get little in the way of a response. Or, if they manage to land a meeting, they may hear a firm “no” before even finishing their pitch. Alternatively, a meeting might seem to go OK, but then they’re left waiting for weeks, maybe months, to hear an answer. To call this frustrating is an understatement.

While it might sound like grocery buyers are disinterested, flaky or even mean people, that’s typically not the case at all. In reality, they have a very tough job that pulls them in multiple directions at once. Most also have a keen sense of “buyer’s intuition,” meaning they can sense pretty quickly whether a product will not only sell well but also add something different to their product mix that’ll elevate their entire department. So, when buyers don’t see certain qualities in new food products and companies, they quickly move on to their next task.

But just because a product gets rejected by a retailer—or even 10 retailers—doesn’t always mean it’s a lost cause. In fact, the issue may not be with the item or the brand at all. The real problem is often how, when, where or to whom the product was pitched—or all of the above.

Our latest podcast guest knows this firsthand. Alli Ball was a buyer for Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco for many years before launching her own consulting business. Now, through her Retail Ready course and Food Biz Wiz podcast, she uses her experience to help producers get products on shelf by educating them on what buyers really want to see.

As Alli explains, buyers are numbers people, with product assortments to manage and sales targets to hit. They also speak a very specific language when discussing all this stuff. So, to have the best shot at scoring face time, getting them to taste a product and convincing them to carry it, entrepreneurs should learn how to properly approach, pitch and follow up with buyers.


And now, our roundup of the best food and beverage finance news, events and resources from around the web…

Consultant With TabletBusiness Model Insights

Raising CapitalRaising Capital

National Wholesale BrandsCPG/National Brands

Grocery Store Produce Section Market Trends

Regenerative AgricultureFarming and AgTech

Mergers And AcquisitionsDeals/M&A

EventsIndustry Events

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