Monday, February 11, 2008

Retail Insights for the Small Business

The Indianapolis Star's From grass roots to grocery shelf has some interesting points for businesses and start ups:

Henderson's is a story of a local entrepreneur making the leap to the retailing big leagues. But it's a rarity.
"The likelihood of being successful with a new product is close to the likelihood of winning Powerball," said Richard Feinberg, a retail professor at Purdue University.
Even if the product is a great one, getting a large retailer to see its value is tough. Why? Usually the product's inventor does not have a track record to prove to anyone that what he or she has will make money.
"The chain does not need to take a chance," said Feinberg. Retail buyers have a tough job that entails quite a bit of trial and error.
Feinberg said retailers are looking for a product they haven't seen before that makes them go "wow." A product that fills a need that is not being filled. And a solid business plan to go with the product.
It's still not easy narrowing things down. In the course of a week, a retailer might get pitches for hundreds of products. And often there is no rhyme or reason to how retailers sort them. It's really a lot of luck -- and happening to catch a retailer's eye at the right time.

*** says that is key to getting onto a retail shelf -- having a product that stands out and fills a need that is unfilled today.
And if an inventor gets a product to store shelves, the chance it will be a hit is even smaller, said Feinberg.
"Ninety percent of all the products that get into the store fail simply because the consumer does not know it, see it, understand if they want it," he said.