What To Do When Sell-In Isn't Going Well?How’s sell-in going?

Have you ever been in this situation?  You’ve already presented your new products — the ones you’re going to unveil to the world at the International Home + Housewares Show in March — to your major retail customers.  But so far your retail customers have had a lukewarm or downright negative reaction to some of your new products.  They are telling your sales people that they don’t aren’t as convinced as you are that the product is going to sell well.

What do you do now?  Is this new product doomed to failure because your most important retail customers are not too sure about it … and now your sales people or brokers have lost faith in the product and don’t even want to present it?

What to do if sell-in is not going well

Is it possible to convince skeptical retail buyers to reconsider?  Is there hope for the product?

Yes, if you can prove there is sufficient demand for your product.  How do you do that?

1. Sales success stories

The best way, of course, is to be able to prove that the product will sell because it is already selling well somewhere else. That’s why the more risk averse retail buyers want to know who else is selling the product and how it is doing before they will commit to buying the product.  That’s why so many retailers jump on As Seen On TV (ASOTV) products and products that were introduced via infomercial or TV shopping channel.  The products already have proven track records of sales success.

But what if sales hasn’t been able to get the product placed at any of your key lead retailers so you have no retail sales success stories, the product is not right for an infomercial, and/or you don’t sell to QVC?  How do you get sales success stories for new products that are not in the market yet?

2. Test Market 

You could test market the product by convincing one of your retail customers to test the product in a couple of their stores.  You could get the product placed with an e-tailer.  You could test the product on your own company web site if you sell directly to consumers.  If you don’t have finished product to sell yet, you could create a landing page that describes the product’s features and benefits, post it on your website, promote it via social media, and measure pre-orders or requests for notifications.

3.  Validation Test

If you don’t have the time or budget for a test market, the next best alternative for proving that a new product has a strong level of consumer interest  is to do a consumer validation test.  A validation test is typically done online with consumers.  Respondents are shown a photograph and description of the product (or a photograph of the package)  or a video and are asked a battery of questions designed to ascertain how likely they would be to buy the product at a certain price.  Typically, several other products are included in the test, usually one or two of the best selling products in the category, to provide benchmark scores to compare the test results against.


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