How To Go To Market
You’ve come up with your idea, made a prototype and found a manufacturer. Now what? There are a few ways to get your product to market, here are some to think about:
1. Your website. You could start by simply selling your product from your website. You need to be in charge of orders, fulfillment and collection of funds. Marketing is extremely important here. Without the name of a big retail center behind you, getting customers can be difficult, but it can be done!
2. Order fulfillment center. An order fulfillment center stores your merchandise and fufills orders for you. When someone orders, they ship it, track it and take a certain cut. The best-known fulfillment center is Amazon, however, there are many fulfillment centers out there so be sure to compare prices, location and terms.
3. Licensing. You can license your product to another company and in exchange, you get a royalty or a percentage of what’s sold. The company that licenses the product from you assumes a majority of the risk and fees so they typically will take a bigger portion of the profit. The terms of a licensing agreement can be varied, so be sure that you are happy with all of them. It can be a challenge to find companies that will want to license your product, so do your research. For a fee, the USPTO will publish a notice that your patent is available for licensing or sale in its official gazette.
4. Tradeshows, Farmers Markets. Setting up a booth at tradeshows and farmers markets is a great way to get your product in front of your consumers or potential distributors and wholesalers. It takes some investment on your part but can provide you with leads, open up relationships and help you sell product. Look for tradeshows that are in your industry and that buyers attend.
5. Go Local. A good way to get your product into the hands of consumers is getting it into your local shops. Visit local boutiques, markets and shops and request a meeting with their buyer or owner. Offer to hold in-store demos, give out samples, etc. to draw interest and prove to the shops that your product will sell. Getting your product on the shelves in local stores, you are able to gain momentum and provide the numbers when it's time to pitch big box retailers.
6. Pitch to big box retailers. It can be very difficult to get a meeting with big box retailers. Most of these companies have departments that deal solely with inventors and companies such as yourself so be prepared. Do some research on their website or call their corporate headquarters to point you to the person or department you need to speak with. These companies want to know a lot of information about you, but most important, can you fulfill large orders? Do you have the capabilities to handle it? Use the numbers from selling at the local level to help you gain access to the bigger retailers.