Manufacturers are often concerned about where they can sell their products. The right choice of channels can make goods highly desirable by the public and become a household name, but a poor decision can cause their products to slide into obscurity. Part of the decision is not just about the exposure that certain products will get; it is also about the ability to deliver products, the consumer base and the time that the manufacturer has to devote to such enterprises.
As such, deciding on channels to sell your product on is going to be a challenge. So here are seven sales channels for you to consider with some of the advantages and disadvantages for each.
Retailers, such as Walmart, are one of the more popular routes to sell your products through – especially if your products are consumer orientated. Retailers will handle most of the sales end of the product (although general marketing might be on your nickel) and the retailer will pay upfront (on terms) for what it orders.
However, retailers can be very picky about what they buy. You will need to have a good sales pitch to convince them to provide your product with shelf space, and don’t be surprised by an automatic reduction for advertising credit or returns.
When you have relatively low overhead and your product can be produced in bulk, a wholesaler might be your best option. However, these are companies who are looking to sell to the trade market, so the price you are getting is going to be lower than you might expect from a retailer or online shop. On the other hand, the volumes they order can be significant.
Just remember to have your profit-loss figures clear in your head, so you don’t sell yourself short when selling down this channel.
Some products, especially large investments, are best sold to customers through resellers. This can be very lucrative as you don’t have to train salespeople to do it, the reseller will. For their efforts, the reseller will get a commission and in some cases, even do the installation work for you (when applicable).
The trouble with resellers is that the sales can often be inconsistent, and you can lose some brand control. If the customer has a bad experience with a reseller, it can also be reflected on your product.
Wholesalers and resellers are similar, but wholesalers typically come before resellers in this chain of selling products. Wholesalers buy products from manufacturers and often then prepare products for resellers so the resellers can sell directly to the end customer.
Selling directly to customers allows you to collect more money, as you can charge retail prices for your products and control the sales process. It also means that you can collect more customer information, helping you to develop the product or any future products.
The problem is that it needs a whole new business operations team to make work. You’ll need warehouse staff, administrators, marketing and delivery networks to make the process work. It might be too much work if you can’t get the orders in.
Whether you prefer Amazon, Ebay or Shopify, these online stores can be highly useful for selling your products to a large market. Amazon even allows you to sell your products to them, and they fullfil the orders making it easier for you to run your business.
The problem with this strategy is that apart from the commission, your products can be swamped by thousands of competitors. This makes it tough to get noticed and therefore, can be rather frustrating when you are starting out.
Trade shows are an excellent way to sell your product. You are surrounded by people who are looking for solutions to their problems, and you’ll be one of just relatively few suppliers of a solution. Trade shows can also be a good way to find resellers, wholesalers or retailers.
The problem is that trade shows are infrequent and relying on them is not considered good practice.
If you are located in a place where there is a lot of foot traffic with your ideal customers, then having a showroom of your products might be a good way to gain some sales. This will require hiring a retail team and designing a shop floor, but it allows you to retain the brand image.
The other issue is business growth. One showroom is limiting. So if you want to grow you might need to look at other channels or open up more showrooms.
Are you looking for ways to sell your product? What channels do you currently use?
Let us know in the comments below.