1. A Strong Brand Name and Packaging. You need to stand out on the shelf and have a benefit driven brand name vs. something obscure. Think “Bug-OFF” vs. “Zonic”. Colors should “Pop” on shelf so people notice you.
2. Multiple Items (SKUs – Stock Keeping Unit). It is extremely rare for a single item to a) get sold in and on shelf (the buyer doesn’t want to bother doing the new vendor paperwork for one SKU!), b) survive if it does get on shelf. The reason is the lack of a brand block. You simply won’t be noticed. The big companies create multiple SKUs and use the 1/2 rule. Present 6, get 3 in, present 8, get 4. When I was at HJ Heinz on the Pounce Brand, we made up several flavors just to get more shelf presence. You can easily create more SKUs with more flavors, sizes or scents.
3. UPC Codes. Yes, the little code on the back of every product you buy is essential for the retailer to scan your item through their register.YOU CAN NOT BE SUCCESSFUL WITHOUT IT. They are somewhat expensive, but they are an essential cost of doing business. If you want to be taken serious by any major retail you must have a UPC code on your product. Here is the website to get you started on the road to having a UPC code. UC Council Link.
4. Product Liability Insurance. Yes, you need it and you need a minimum of $1 million for most retail chains. This is a policy you buy to protect the retailer from claims made against your product due to a defect, harm caused by your product, etc. You can find out more info about this type of insurance at this link. You can Google “Product Liability Insurance” and get a ton of sites that will give you quotes. There is no way around this requirement.
5. The Right Relationship. It is next to impossible to get your product in front of a major chain buyer without the right relationship. You can cold call and send samples to the buyer until you are blue in the face and get nowhere. You need a rep that goes to the buyer’s barbecues on the weekends. This relationship will cost you, but it’s typically 5 – 8% of wholesale sales into the chain. Yes this is an ongoing cost but worth its weight in gold and cheaper than hiring a dedicated salesperson.