Coming to America - Part II: Retail Needs

Coming to America - Part II: Retail Needs

We’ve helped a number of XUS brands across a spectrum of categories come to the Americas. The following “manifesto” is LOCC’s best practices for COMING TO AMERICA.

In Part II we cover Retail Needs: Despite what you may think, US retail is very different than anywhere else - if for no other reason than scale.

We’ve helped a number of XUS brands across a spectrum of categories come to the Americas. The following “manifesto” is 
LOCC’s best practices for COMING TO AMERICA.
In Part II we cover Retail Needs: Despite what you may think, US retail is very different than anywhere else - if for no other reason than scale.

Be Vendor Savvy

Okay!  You are all set up with a legal US subsidiary, a US bank account and all the necessary infrastructure to begin doing business.  Have your done your homework about US Retail?  

Retail is exciting – seeing your brand on shelf can be thrilling.  But the level of mundane paperwork and oddball needs to get it there can be mind-numbing.  Do yourself a favor – have someone show you three or four vendor forms from the retailers with whom you wish to do business.  Be armed with the data, numbers, needs. 

Be Vendor Savvy:  If you plan to sell via retail channels, a Dunn and Bradstreet (DUNS) number may be requested.  Retailers (especially the major chains) check credit worthiness of new vendors.

Two ways to set it up:

  • Concierge service that offers white glove client care (more expensive but faster)
  • Basic Service where you elect someone to input all the data in a monthly/ongoing basis

Need help navigating this, contact us at Joseph@LOCC.me

 

GAINING ACCESS

Retail Reps or Distributors - You have a great product/brand, an established fan base of users (delete of users) – what you LACK is access to decision makers: Buyers, Category Managers and higher-ups.  They are focused on brands/groups they know b/c their mission is to squeeze an extra percent out of their shelf space.  Seasoned buyers who already know or work in your category or with your buyer at your desired channel are critical to your success.

Various ways to engage these decision-makers with sales reps:    

  • By Channel – a Chicago-based rep may have close ties (due to proximity) with Ulta or Walgreens – he/she is channel-specific    
  • By Territory – many reps and rep groups want to ‘own’ a full sales territory.  E.g., the Northwest.  This means if it falls in that area, they get the sale.  It works when there are lots of small shops to sell to.  But when it is big retail, are they equipped to handle Nordstroms (whose HQ is in the Northwest)?  It is a fair question.
  • By Expertise – if a rep has not covered your category before, establishing rapport with the buyer for your product may take too long.  Best to go with a built-in relationship

Distributors:  Often foreign brands think that when they park their business with a distributor, they can sit back and wait for the orders and money to roll in.  This is folly.  Your hands-on approach will be critical to your brand growth and success.

Pros & Cons:  Working with Reps is harder on you due to the needs – multiple incoming needs for answers, ongoing communication, etc. But you maintain control over your brand, pricing, etc.  Working with Distributors means relationship logistics are often easier but you give up a certain amount of control over pricing, positioning, etc.

Locating reps and distributors is not always easy.  They are focused on selling the brands that make them the most money and pioneering a new brand is hard work. Managing reps and distributors is another hurdle altogether!

Want to know more about how to identify the right sales reps, master brokers or distributor?  Contact us at Joseph@LOCC.me  

 

 

TRADE SHOWS

Trade Shows – Industry presence is an important component to your North American sales.  Select the trade shows that offer the best access to decision-makers.  Many trade shows are wilting under financial pressure and lack of retailers’ time to be “away from the store.”  Maximize every opportunity you have within any given trade show and plan, plan, plan.

Look the part:  Demonstrate that you understand your brand’s position on shelf – show them how it can/should look.  Make your booth professional, practical, beautiful and engaging – its job is to support your brand (not the other way around)

Materials:  Wholesale and retail pricing sheets including margins, lead times, etc. – all in one place

Advance work:  Plan meetings with key buyers and reach out in advance.  Be strategic and prioritize

Team Balance:  Your team should have different strengths – and consider your buyer (try to mirror them or your customer in your trade show staff)

Want to know how to get on decision-makers’ radar BEFORE the show?  Contact us at Joseph@LOCC.me

 

MANUFACTURING

Producing outside the Americas can be less expensive (even with shipping, import costs).  Usually at a certain point it becomes more cost efficient to produce your goods in the US.  Like any manufacturing facility anywhere, 12 to 20 weeks is the usual lead time to produce identical goods in a turnkey fashion.

Depending on your COGS and product type, the North American sales figure that serves as a tipping point in favor of domestic manufacture is usually in excess of $3 to $5 million in orders or when producing and shipping from abroad impacts your US retail margin too much.

Whether you make biotech goods, eco-friendly cleaning products or hair gel, there are manufacturers in North America ready to help.

Want to connect with US-based manufacturers to service your domestic account? Contact us at Joseph@LOCC.me  

Tune in next week to learn about how to tackle E-Commerce.

To get a full copy of the Coming to America "Manifesto" - contact us at Joseph@locc.me