Selling to Wal-Mart: The Do’s and the Dont’s

After returning from Bentonville last week, I realized what I had just done was the most exciting thing an inventor/entrepreneur could ever do. Walk the hallways of the buying office at the headquarters of Wal-Mart….

The blue and gray walls signify America, and the American dream of most product developers; to place their products into the largest retailer in the world! How exciting is that?

Well, to do that- you have got to be prepared!

The Do’s-

o Make sure your product fits Wal-Mart’s mission, demographics and consumer lifestyle.

o You will need to provide the buyer with data on competitors and how your products compare or are better than them. Actual customer marketing research should be presented (not just your opinions on why your product is the next million dollar idea.)

o They don’t want to see prototypes, unfinished samples, or waste time with ideas. You probably would not even get an appointment with an idea.

o Have your pricing and product configuration ready to go. They are interested in selling, not testing new products.

o Have your packaging ready, with bar codes….at the meeting.

o Make sure you are familiar with Wal-Marts buying process, and how they place their products into the stores. (this is not so easy to do, a great agent can assist in this.)

o Conceive every question or comment the buyer might ask you about your product, and be prepared to have the answers for them. Play your devils advocate, and be willing to be in the hot seat.

o Be prepared to take some heat on pricing, and always appear to be educated on the products demographics and competitors pricing. Know, know, know your best pricing going in, you will be drilled about it! Wal-Mart buyers deal everyday with many manufacturers direct, so in their category you better believe they know what something should cost. If you’re pulling the wool over their eyes, you could look silly.

o Be willing to listen to the buyer’s advice and guidance when it comes to the product. They have great insight!

The Dont’s-

o Make sure you don’t take pictures (anywhere in the building). They are very strict, so leave your cell and camera in the car!

o Think your product is the next million dollar idea! Be humble and willing to take criticism.

o Argue with the buyer. If they turn the item down, say thank you!

o Expect the buyers to dictate to you what you need to do to develop the item. They will give general advice, however, you’re presenting to them, you better know what you are selling.

o Waste their time.

Always Dream BIG!

Kim Babjak

Kim Babjak, and her team at KimCo LLC, are a multi-faceted product development company that offers a wide range of consulting in the areas of  “Mind 2 Market” product & business development. With over 20+ years of combined retail experience and sourcing overseas, Kim Babjak and her team of professionals can help create successful product creation and placement. We help companies with product development, prototyping, and manufacturing overseas and. With our vast retail buyer relationships, we can then assist with the product being placed into electronic retail (QVC), and big box retail outlets like Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot, Costco and many others.

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