Saturday, April 5, 2008

Incognito.... Again....

The weekend. A bad time for small time manufacturers. How to make busy? Visit your retailers incognito, and see what's up in your little neck of their store. And then ask yourself some questions, much like I have been today. And then, quickly, come up with some answers. (which I have, preferably answers that look something like solutions)
Why is it that one downtown store, in a location that doesn't scream 'kids' in particular more than any other downtown neighborhood, can't keep your product stocked, and has to reorder in ever growing quantites.. and the retailer in the upscale teeming with young children neighborhood can't seem to move them?
Answers are coming.
1. Downtown store, if you visit it, you will note that they have the product prominently displayed on juvenile mock ups, right at the cash register, with ample product stocked below it. You can see it, feel it, understand how it works - fall in love with it.
2. Uptown store, has product grouped in with a mass of other products - ones that are for a different age grouping altogether. There's no signage. There's no sample on display. Staff are busy, and this particular part of the store is for you to browse, perhaps impulse purchase, etc..
3. Another uptown store, product on a bottom shelf in the back of the store. BUT. Signage at the cash register. Product is moving. Staff discuss product with all who walk in with toddlers, and staff have been educated on the product.
4. West End store, product prominently displayed, staff educated on product, and signage in effect. Product moving.

And so here's my next lesson to me in the retail game. Don't just deliver your product. Stay involved afterwards in the retail process. Help your retailer represent you. So here's my solution. I have these stand alone plexi-glass stands that can easily stand at a cash register. In them, I have placed my recent promo. I have taken it, and printed at the top, "As Seen In" . They will be delivered to retailers next week, and all of them show the product on my young and devilishly adorable young models. I am also pondering having some larger placards made to showcase over the top of wherever the products are displayed. I know that in grocery stores, certain brands actually pay the grocery store to be at 'eye level', making them most prominent in your buying psyche. I don't think it works quite that way in the boutique toddler niche, but I am willing to guess that the more backup you provide for your product, the more able you make your retailers to sell it. And the more I get into this, the more I learn, you cannot just walk away and wait for things to happen. You must keep things happenning. I try to pay attention to my own buying habits, what catches my eye, why I buy something. And I am indeed my own target market, but I try to keep the myriad of Moms on the planet in mind when I dream up this stuff. Here's another good quote someone gave me, this one to do with house purchasing: " A person decides to buy a house within the first 90 seconds that they step into it" That's it. 90 seconds. And that's a captive audience! They don't have other houses surrounding them when they do it. So now imagine your gidget or widget, surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of other products, and ask yourself, do I even get 90 seconds? No, more than likely, you get less than 9 seconds, if that. Sometimes just the turn of a head. Which leads me back to retailer support. If a person glances at your product in the aisle, but then sees a promo for it at the cash register, and a salesperson extols the virtues of the product, Voila! You just got your 90 seconds. Now, the sale either happens or it doesn't, but at least this way, the customer actually got to decide if they liked it and needed it or not. Amazing what you learn on your feet, that no one will ever tell you. (except me, I seem to be pretty easy at giving this stuff away, but if you find any of it useful, better for you - we should all be making it easier for each other in this business - and I strongly believe this - the market both wants and NEEDS quality local Mom-imagined ideas that absolutely and positively solve regular problems that come up in the course of raising our kids.

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