Who Needs 'Em?

Introducing Your Product To E-Tailers

Although most Internet storefronts contain information about how to submit ideas, Winchell didn't find that route very effective. "You would send the product in and not know what happened to it," he says. Instead, Winchell tapped the same sales strategy he uses with catalogs: He called up the site, found the name of the correct buyer and then sent the information directly to that buyer. Winchell then followed up with the buyer by phone.

In each package, Winchell also included a short, sales-oriented paragraph for the Internet site's summary section, and then gave more detailed information for customers who clicked through to his product. The Internet stores didn't end up using Winchell's descriptions, but those short paragraphs did help the buyers get a better handle on how the game would appeal to customers on the Internet.

Winchell's difficulties didn't end there. He failed in his initial attempt to penetrate Amazon.com when it first branched out into toys. Says Winchell, "I just couldn't make the connection." And he couldn't get that initial order. So he turned to a representative in the Pacific Northwest who was able to call Amazon.com, find the right buyer and present the product. The result? A sale.

How can you find the right representative? Winchell went to the American International Toy Fair in New York City and asked other inventors who they used to represent their products.

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This article was originally published in the July 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Who Needs 'Em?.

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