“Getting a listing with your local Co-op is a great stepping stone to the larger retailers”Nimisha?Raja?s Co-op journey began with a listing of her brand of air-dried fruit and vegetable crisps in 60 Kent branches. Popularity among its shoppers saw the listing expand into a further 70 stores across the Midlands. According to Raja, her initial introduction to Co-op?s buying team was a great example of how working with a local trade organisation can open doors with larger retailers. ?Co-op was searching for locally made produce and we were introduced to them by Produced in Kent, who had got to know us and our desire to try to source as many local ingredients as possible for use in Nim?s Fruit Crisps,? Raja told Business Advice. As an organisation, Produced in Kent offers business support to local business owners and aims to provide smaller companies with sales and growth opportunities. __________________________________________________________________________________
Want to find out the secrets to getting stocked in Britain’s major retail stores? From Screwfix to Sainsbury?s, and from Platet Organic to John Lewis, we?ve found out how different businesses have got products onto those illusive shelves. __________________________________________________________________________________
? Double the amount of local suppliers
? Break down barriers to trading by sharing technical expertise and practical support
? Avoid expensive and duplicate audits
? Not seek exclusivity to help small businesses to grow
? Build long-term relationships with suppliers and growers
One foot in the doorSomething Business Advice discovered in previous instalments of our selling to big business series is that impressing a retail buyer with a unique and interesting product doesn?t count for much unless there is sales clout behind it. Both of our suppliers agreed that solid figures and projections were crucial in gaining a listing. ?As well as tasting our products, we had to present the buyer with commercials for the products and market research as to why our products are suitable for your typical Co-op customer,? Raja said. ?It was really important to create a great presentation that highlights what the trends are in your sector and how your product fits in with their consumer base. Ultimately though, it does come down to the buyer actually liking what you have to sell. More than 15 store managers were invited to try our great tasting and healthy fruit crisps.? Proving that Co-op?s customers would take to Snaffling Pig was equally vital to Coleman, who also explained why a brand outselling its competition in the market would help sway the buying team. ?Like any retail outlet, there?s only so much shelf space available,? he said. ?Buyers are under constant pressure to ensure the brands they stock offer their customers what they need, whilst still maximising the return for the space they occupy. ?In the majority of cases, gaining a listing in a store means the buyer will have de-listed an existing line. This means that at the very least the new brand will need a rate of sale (ROS) greater than that of the one it?s replacing. To be able to prove this higher ROS will always put you in a stronger position and help the buyer create a more informed choice ahead of the launch. But there?s still a degree of risk ? and pressure.? The initial arrangement has seen Snaffling Pig listed locally across three counties. After 12 months, SP hopes the business will be able to provide Co-op with a strong case to expand the listing on a national scale. Once stocked, both Coleman and Raja found that Co-op?s ethics and values were also reflected in its relationship with suppliers. ?They not only support local businesses, but are mindful that a listing with them could mean a bit of a learning curve and they were very supportive,? Raja noted. ?Even though the buyer who originally dealt with me has moved to a different department, she will still email me or message via social media to see how things are going.? __________________________________________________________________________________
Revealed: The best and worst national retailers for paying small suppliers Comparing the credit rating and payment performance of 20 of the biggest names in UK retail, Orsmby Street uncovered the country?s best and worst companies for paying small suppliers. __________________________________________________________________________________ Co-op?s enthusiasm for independent brands and producers has set it apart from other national supermarkets, but maintaining an extensive local network has seen the retailer take a slightly different approach. Coleman explained the logistical differences between Co-op?s supply chain and that of rival stores. ?It simply isn?t feasible for them to have individual relationships with each brand,? he said. ?Therefore they use a consolidator, Enterprise Foods, which supports Co-op in its mission to buy local.?
Final secrets for selling to Co-opFor Coleman, knowing your own business inside out and bringing a powerful brand plan to the negotiating table were the essential starting points for a smaller brand targeting Co-op. ?This gives the buyer total confidence your product is worth backing,? he added. ?You can beef this up with case studies which highlight strong ROS and a brand their customers will love engaging with.? On the other hand, Raja urged other brands to do their homework on Co-op. ?Co-op stores are smaller than some of the other retailers and possibly more price-sensitive,? she explained. ?As with all retailers, ensure that you have the correct accreditations ? BRC/SALSA or equivalent. Remember that this is a commercial venture and you will need to convince them that they will make money from selling your products.? Want to learn more about getting your products stocked with other major UK retailers? Go back and read some other features in our ?Selling to big business? supply chain series.
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