Merchandise Placement

How I Got An Order From Walmart in 20 Minutes (True Story!)

Last week, I was in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Have you ever been there? I haven't. And I was excited to go. Walmart and Sam's Club are headquartered in Bentonville and give the town its storied history.

I was there to lead the pitch to Walmart and Sam's Club for a client. It was such an interesting and positive experience that I knew I had to share it with you! Whether or not you intend to sell to Walmart or Sam's Club, this experience is still worth reading about. 

I'll start with the meetings. We had 3 Walmart meetings and 2 Sam's Club meetings. We met with both the Senior Buyers and Buyers for our categories. Within 20 minutes of our first meeting with a Walmart Sr. Buyer, we received a commitment for Feb 2016. My client laughs when she tells this story, but the commitment came so fast I didn't believe it. I actually asked the Sr. Buyer to clarify, "So when did you say you will be making decisions for the February assortment?". His response, "I just did. Your brand is in our assortment." OH! 

5 Lessons From Store Execution Nightmares (How To Ensure In-Store Execution Is Flawless)

You have a vision for how your products will be merchandised and displayed in stores. And it’s magnificent one.

Your SKUs are lined up neatly, shelves are fully stocked, and the packaging is gleaming with crisp edges as if it just came off the production line. You imagine yourself turning down the aisle and being blinded but the beautiful merchandise display. You marvel over how your brand will jump off shelf and are pretty sure the assortment will catch the attention of any shopper walking by.

And then reality hits. And it’s far from what you imagined.

The truth of brick and mortar retail is that your product will have made a long journey before it reaches shelf. And that journey will have jostled product in its master carton, collected dents from drops and bumps, and misshapen the contents from the crushing weight of other cartons.



Lesson #1: You have some (not full) control over how your product and packaging will arrive and look at shelf.

Make sure you think through this journey before finalizing packaging colors (white gets dirty) and durability (corners crush easily, plastic and dolomite shatter easily, tin dents). Do drop testing. Wrap individual items with plastic or bubble wrap. Use inner cartons.

How Do I Get An Endcap Or Sidecap In A Store

Endcaps and sidecaps 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.

My Product Is A Game Changer and Unlike Anything Currently Out on the Market. What Can I Do To Make Sure A Retailer “Gets It”?

1) PR and the media are usually fast to embrace new trends or game-changing products. If your game-changer is featured in a magazine, show that to the buyer as evidence of an emerging trend. Plus, media attention serves as consumer education and builds consumer demand, which appeals to retailers.

2) Do research into the unmet needs of consumers.

3) But more likely than not, you’ll run into a lot of retailers who do not get it. Not to fret. Those risk averse retailers are usually the bigger ones.

Do I Need A Product Line Or Is One Product Enough?

For a buyer, the ideal situation is one in which a manufacturer has one hero SKU with a strong sales history.  But in addition, that manufacturer would ideally have a line of other products in the pipeline ready to ship once a buyer agrees to add new SKUs of your brand.

One product is enough for the short term, but to build longevity with a retailer, you will need to offer a line of products that can make a strong brand statement at shelf.

This is an extreme case.  But take the laundry detergent aisle as one example. Detergents are brand blocked as far as the eye can see.  Tide, All, Gain are all merchandised in clear, vertical statements...