The idea of selling your small business’s products to big retailers is a tempting one. To have your products lining their shelves, bringing you increased sales and heightened brand awareness is a dream many product innovators share.
The big-time retail world, however, comes with big-time challenges.
There are many aspects to your business that will have to change when you go from a small operation to one dealing with the prominent regional or national chains. One of the first things you’ll need to deal with is transforming your packaging and fulfillment operations.
One more hat to wear
Small business owners are known for being able to wear lots of “hats”. You may not be prepared, however, to take on new, large-scale packaging logistics. All big-box stores have extensive, painstaking vendor fulfillment manuals—many, many pages of rules to be followed to the letter.
There will be guidelines for when they’ll take shipments, how trucks should be packed, how many boxes can be loaded on, and the required size of every box. They will want barcodes placed in an exact spot every single time. Some will require individual items to be shrink-wrapped or packaged in specific lot sizes or configurations.
They require every shipment they receive to look precisely the same, across hundreds or thousands of vendors. Yours will be no exception. You will need a well-trained team that can follow these instructions, quickly, consistently and to the letter.
Zero-tolerance is the rule
Because of that vast number of suppliers they buy from, the big retailers don’t need to cater to any single company. So, if any of their guidelines aren’t followed, you will incur hefty, contractual penalties and charge-backs.
If you’d rather not have your invoices dinged with fees, expect to package and ship exactly how and when they say to do it. With products packed to specifications, barcodes and labels in the right spot and your trucks showing up precisely on time, you’re ready for big business!
Here come the orders
Once you’ve got your products on the big-retailer shelves or their website—be prepared! You’ve successfully opened the floodgates to many new customers, which means much larger volumes. Scaling up can happen way more quickly than you imagined, and you have to be able to adjust instantly.
Although it may be up to a year to receive your first order from a big-box retailer, when it comes in, you’re expected to be ready. The retailer may even ask for 24-hour delivery. In fact, during negotiations, the buyer would probably have required a guarantee of your capability to deliver large orders on time with short notice.
Is it time to look for professional fulfillment outsourcing?
Now before you take another step toward the major retailers is the right time to take a look at all your packaging and fulfillment options. If you decide this isn’t another hat you want to wear, outsourcing can be your best solution.
Ohio Valley Goodwill Industrial Services Division has years of experience offering packaging, kitting, assembly and fulfillment services to businesses in Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and Southeast Indiana. Let’s talk about how we can help your small business make the successful transition to becoming a big-box retailer supplier.