FORTUNE Small Business:

How can we sell in big retail stores?

FSB's Anne Fisher deciphers the various ways to get your product into top retail stores.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all RSS FEEDS (close)

Get small-business intelligence from the experts. Here's a chance for YOU to ask your pressing small-business questions, and FSB editors will help you get answers from the appropriate experts.
Your name:
* Your e-mail address:
* Your city:
* Your state:
* Your daytime phone #:
* Your questions:

(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: My company makes fashion tape (two-sided adhesive that keeps clothing in place). We're struggling to land a major retail account. Our products sell well in boutiques and online, and we've gotten great national media exposure, including on Good Morning America and in In Style magazine. Yet despite our creativity - we've even sent lottery tickets to big retailers' buyers - we can't get a meeting. Do you have suggestions?

Rebecca Whicker, President
Bug Catcherz, Atlanta

Dear Rebecca: There's no one way to become a vendor to a big retail chain. Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500), which buys $200 billion in merchandise each year from 61,000 suppliers, gives detailed online proposal-submission instructions at (under "Suppliers"). Target (TGT, Fortune 500)'s e-mail application process begins with a call to its vendor hotline: 612-696-7500. Higher-end department stores have no such standard drill. Instead, your best bet with Nordstrom (JWN, Fortune 500) or Macy's (M, Fortune 500) (which owns Bloomingdale's) is to call your local store and ask for the appropriate buyer for your region. She'll tell you what your next steps should be.

In all cases, because stores value vendor diversity, it would probably help to get certified as a woman-owned business. Wal-Mart will accept certification only from the Women's Business Enterprise National Council. Its counterpart for minorities is the National Minority Supplier Development Council.

Buyers typically won't meet with you until they've approved your product, and for some reason that's not happening. Which leads us to ask: How attached are you to your company's name? "Your website makes it clear that you've invented clever fashion-tape products that help women's clothes fit better, but if you call someone and say, 'I'm from Bug Catcherz,' they won't think of fashion tape," says Pete Dewar, head of verbal identity for global branding giant Interbrand. "Your name is your calling card - and unfortunately this one makes you sound like a pest-control company." Dewar adds that big retail chains, especially upscale fashion retailers, seek products that "add value to their brand by reflecting its style and image." He doubts that a name like Bug Catcherz does that. To top of page

How can Rebecca get her product into retail stores? Share your advice for Bug Catcherz here.

Sniffing out sales

After the Wal-Mart deal

For designers, Oscar turn boosts sales

Ecko's startup story: Rhinos and maxed credit
They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
10 of the most luxurious airline amenity kits When it comes to in-flight pampering, the amenity kits offered by these 10 airlines are the ultimate in luxury More
7 startups that want to improve your mental health From a text therapy platform to apps that push you reminders to breathe, these self-care startups offer help on a daily basis or in times of need. More
5 radical technologies that will change how you get to work From Uber's flying cars to the Hyperloop, these are some of the neatest transportation concepts in the works today. More


Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.