Question: I want to test-market my new educational toy in a toy store near my house, but the store won't carry it. Do you have any suggestions on how to encourage the store to try my product?
Answer: Retailers frequently resist taking on new, unproven products. They like to wait until they're sure the product will sell. Three tactics you can try are guaranteed sales, consignment sales and small promotional campaigns.
Guaranteed sales means if your product doesn't sell, you'll take it back and issue a full credit or refund. A consignment sale is when you place a product in the store and bill the store only for actual sales. This tactic eliminates risk for the retailer, as it only pays the inventor after the product is sold.
My choice in your situation would be to run a small promotional campaign. Tell the retailer you will pass out 500 to 1,000 fliers about your product to schools, early-childhood-education programs and day-care centers in your area. Explain that you'll include a 10-percent-off coupon valid only at the retailer's store; all he or she has to do is stock the product.
The retailer might still insist on incentives such as consignment or guaranteed sales before you can close the sale. Meet those demands; you need to get your product on the shelf where people can buy it.
Bob Black, c/o Automation Inc., 11232 St. John's Industrial Pkwy., #1, Jacksonville, FL 32246, http://www.cleanshower.com