And now, all that is left to do is to sell your product! Again, you have a few different options here.
Of course, you can do this through your website using a ‘sales page’ or more likely an e-commerce store, which will turn your website into a shop. Great tools for creating e-commerce stores include WooCommerce which has the advantage of being a WordPress plugin, thereby enabling fast and easy installation. Then there is Magento, for which you need to create a separate standalone site. The advantage of Magento though is that it’s capable of stocking more items – up to 50,000 to be precise. But chances are you won’t be quite at this stage for a while! Or you might pick Shopify which is hosted – meaning you set up an account and then just link to that from your website. There are much more e-commerce platforms, but one of these three should provide you with most of what you need.
If you have a small project and a prominent website with lots of traffic, then this might be more than sufficient, and you may not need to do get serious funding from angel investors. This is the ‘easy win’ option!
But if you’re a little more ambitious, then you might want to approach a buyer, which will mean getting your product into stores!
Step 1 - Do Your Research
If you approach retailers without doing any research first, you're only going to be wasting everyone's time (primarily your own). For starters, you need to know beforehand whether a company is even likely to carry products like yours, and for this, you need to research the kinds of things they tend to sell and who their main shoppers are. A good way to find potential outlets is to search for products from your competitors and then see where they are being sold.
Next, you should learn everything you can about those stores. Look at their retail guidelines and see if they have a 'product submissions' page on their website (Wal-Mart, for instance, has step-by-step instructions right on their website!). The more prepared you are, the better chance you will have.
Step 2 - Know Yourself
Likewise, you also need to know everything you can about your product and your business model. When your present your proposal to retailers, you need to be able to show them why you're confident it will sell, who your target demographic is and how much it can sell for/how much profit the store will make. Again the more detail you go into, the more confident stores will be in you and your product. Providing product samples is a good strategy if you can and providing extra materials such as POS displays (point of sale) can help you to win extra brownie points. Press coverage etc. can also help you to win your case.
Step 3 - Find Your Ally
Now you have your pitch/package ready you need to find someone who's willing to listen. Start by contacting the buyer using the details on the website or by calling up and asking to speak to the buyer or representative. If you get snubbed though or don't get any response, you can always try again by looking for contacts you might have within that organization (LinkedIn is a powerful tool in that regard) or by arranging a meeting with anyone you can. If you can get just one person to listen and to get enthusiastic about your product, then they might help you to get the meeting you need.
Step 4 - Use a Sales Representative
If you're still not having any luck, then another option is to use a sales representative who will handle this part of the process for you. It costs money, and you lose some control, but they have experience and contacts which can help them to get you noticed. However, you go about it, though, don't give up. You can get a thousand rejections, but when you get one positive response it will all be worth it!