The Internet’s made it easy to find companies through many communication channels or good ol’ Google. We talked about networking through social media and attending trade shows before. This week we will be talking about different ways to get products into your store using the previous topics and other platforms.
Trade shows used to be one of the only ways to get out there and find products and suppliers, but now it’s easy to go online to find products from all over the world. As great as trade shows are, there are now a lot of products that are not featured because a lot of independent makers are using the internet to crowd fund their products on sites like
Finding the Supplier
For your store you may already have some interesting products that target your demographic, but perhaps you are looking for a particular kind of product that caters to a certain demographic that you haven’t yet. You can search on sites like Pinterest or Fancy to find products that people have already liked or bought from these sites. The link to the company or supplier is usually available on the post and their contact info is located on their about or contact page.
Kickstarter is a website where designers and new suppliers promote their products with pledging campaigns that usually take place for a certain period of time. Backers help to fund projects they like and help designers make their products a reality. The funds they make go towards production costs and other expenses. Here you will find unique products for your store, but you have to wait until their campaign is funded before you can really work with them. You may have to wait until their products are manufactured before they’ll be able to send you any kind of sample or stock.
Mighty Mug is a product that is featured on Kickstarter that was designed by a team of industrial designers and engineers from Brooklyn, NY. This mug has a suction cup on its base to keep it secure to tabletops to prevent spillage if someone were to bump into it. At the end of their campaign they raised $107, 662 with 2,149 backers supporting this product. A lot of industrial designers and engineers use this site to get their products out there. By supporting them you can potentially create a contact and get their product in your store once they get manufactured.
Let’s say you are looking for a new umbrella for your retail store. There are so many out there it may be hard to choose the right one for you. Then you find one that you really like that fits the criteria you are looking for, and you want to get in contact with this supplier right away.
Hold on a second! Make sure you do your research first. Benchmarking allows you to compare products from various suppliers that vary in features and materials. It is important to know which ones are better than others because people have used these products before and have posted their experiences online. Using the internet you can instantly find out what people think about it, giving you an idea on whether it is worth having in your store.
Contacting the Supplier
When you have selected the products you like it’s time to contact the supplier. The best way to do this is through email. Email allows you to contact people from all over, so find the contact information on their website. When you talk to them make sure that you state where you are based out of and if you have any warehouses in other cities or countries to make it easier to contact the right representatives for that company.
By establishing a communication stream you can also introduce phone calls and meetings into your new partnership. Emails are effective, but they don’t portray any emotional connections between people. If you eventually get to calling or meeting them in person you can express yourself better, and the connection is on a deeper level to make building rapport a lot easier.
Make sure you check out specific aggregator websites to find products that you can feature in your store. If you do your research you can find products that people have left good reviews for before contacting a supplier. Since the internet makes things easier than going to a trade show, you can find out who makes or supplies the product right from the site you are looking at. If you find it on a blog you may have to do some additional research if the blogger does not state who made the product. Benchmarking will allow you to see what products are already out there and you might find a better variation of what you are looking for.
As for looking for suppliers. email them first and establish a professional relationship with them. However, try to eventually talk to them over the phone to make the connection deeper.