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Pain-free tips to find your best distribution channel

3-minute read

Do you have a great product you know customers will love? What about distribution? How will you get it to market?

It’s a big concern for many entrepreneurs. Distribution is one of the most important aspects of product development. But it often takes a back seat to product design.

Here are 4 steps to help get your distribution channel running smoothly.

1. Think about distribution early

Some great products never get off the ground because distribution was an afterthought.

Take a close look at your product as it’s being developed. Think about its characteristics, its market and how it fits the buying needs of your target customers.

This information is vital for choosing the right distribution channel for it.

2. Decide on your approach

Should you sell your products yourself or find a distributor?

It’s a question of strategic planning. Selling your product to a distributor is a good option if you feel you don’t have the capacity yourself. A larger distributor usually has more marketing power than a small one.

If you do decide to distribute yourself, it’s important to develop a marketing strategy. A wide variety of promotion strategies exist for various types of products and budgets.

Be sure to consider online marketing and social media. The Internet has given entrepreneurs cost effective and easy-to-use tools to punch above their weight and compete with much larger businesses.

Another marketing strategy is to target a focused niche. Taking advantage of a niche market involves promoting your product through advertising, social media and gatherings where your target clientele is present.

3. Consider starting small

Competition can be fierce for a deal with a mass distributor or retailer. They’re often inundated with new product pitches and rarely take one on.

Large retailers and distributors have to consider a potential supplier’s longevity and ability to consistently deliver and support the product.

If you can address such concerns, it can be very lucrative to sell into a large distribution channel.

But it can also be costly if your efforts fail—akin to a bet-the-farm strategy.

Consider starting with smaller operations outside the big distribution channels. With success there, you can establish a track record.

Once you’ve built a solid foundation for growth, it should be easier to approach a larger distributor.

4. Multiple channels

To reduce risk, you can also consider a multi-pronged marketing and distribution strategy.

For example, one part of the strategy could be targeting geographic locations that would be easiest to serve and provide the best return. Within these regions, find out which distributors supply the independent and small retailers.

Next, try to get your product into their distribution channel, either as a supplier or, as is becoming more common, as a partner in an alliance.

Another part of your strategy could involve targeting larger, more national distributors or retailers.

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