January 4, 2013 (Updated May 26, 2015)
Endcaps and sidecaps (also known as promo space) are largely used to drive a sharp lift in sales in a short period of time. Therefore the expectations for the sales volume they will generate are HIGH – and typically not achievable for most newcomers to achieve. These “programs” are in-and-out programs. Meaning, this space is allocated for a limited time. And, buyers have to compete with other buyers to win this temporary space. To win the space, they have to propose an endcap or sidecap program that will earn their retailer the most sales and profits. And if buyers win this space, it gives them a huge leap forward in meeting their individual financial performance goals.
Because buyers are awarded endcap/sidecap space for a limited time, buyers primarily use endcaps and sidecaps for one of two reasons:
- to quickly pick up additional sales and profits to bring them closer to their financial goals, or
- to try out a new product that is not currently sold in their stores to see if it has future potential.
While not a primary objective, endcaps (rarely sidecaps) support a seasonal event or strategic focus, so every promo space submission should be mindful of season and strategy too.
About 90% of the time buyers choose to use this space for reason #1. After all, it is all about making money. They choose items that are known sellers because they know it will rake in the most sales. Often times the manufacturer of those known sellers will give additional funding to help the buyer compete for that space.
Most of you will not be able to win sidecaps or endcaps based on reason #1. Not yet at least. But I have clients who have won space based on reason #2.
How did they do this? By having an innovative product and a strong business rationale that gives the buyer confidence in your product. Remember, that buyer has the option of putting a proven seller in that space which is a “sure thing.” So if you want to unseat the “sure thing”, your product better prove worth the risk. How? Demonstrate a strong business case for why the buyer should take the leap of faith. This includes showing:
- your brand has appropriate consumer awareness and marketing support
- your product convincingly solves an unmet consumer need
- your product's differentiation is 10X (meaning, it is 10 times) better than other products in the market and communicates it clearly
- your product has packaging and branding that is executed per the retailer’s expectations
- your product has a healthy retailer markup and the right retail price to court shoppers
- your product aligns with a strategy important to the retailer (e.g., social good, organic/natural, seasonal, etc)
- you’ve identified the potential pitfalls and risks and have provided contingency plans to reassure the buyer
- and you can either offer the buyer a full brand statement with several of your items for a branded endcap. Or 1 to 2 items from your portfolio that the buyer will mix in with complementary brands and products. Each promo space program typically has a theme for cohesiveness, so try to build a proposal that has a story, too.
All of these items, when in place, will prove that you have a product worth taking a risk for and worth bypassing a known seller for. But it still won’t be easy. My clients had to pitch several sidecaps/endcaps programs before eventually making the cut.
While regional retailers are more flexible than national retailers, the thought process the buyer goes through as described above is the same. Stores vary in how rigid they are in their endcap/sidecap planning so do your research before submitting proposals.