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Retail Me Not (Why Getting Your Product Into A Retailer Can Kill Your Business)

· Strategy

A few years back I spoke to my mentors a lot about where I could take my startup Uberpong and always thought that retail was the answer.

I mean, being in England, the American Dream is pretty much to start a business with the goal of getting into a store like Walmart or Lowe’s.

The problem is that this is a minefield littered with challenges that could make you go under at any minute:

  • Chargebacks if you don’t sell your merchandise. This basically means the store makes you pay for the stock that wasn’t sold. After all, they want products that are flying off the rails.
  • You get into stores before you are known and because no-one has heard of you, the shelves remain full.
  • Suddenly your early adopters and hardcore fans see that you are mainstream and have sold out. Cue, a mass exodus.
  • The store wants a wholesale rate that is more than what it actually costs you to produce. You go overseas to China to get the rate you want but end up having high minimum order quantities and have a huge up front manufacturing cost.

There are many other reasons why retail just doesn’t seem to be worth the risk yet a few days ago, I was approached by one of the biggest French retailers.

With my recent acquisition of knowledge, I was confident this was NOT going to happen.

But then something funny happened.

The store insisted we were the coolest brand they had seen for a long time.

They wanted us in their cool Parisien pop-up shop.

I resisted and told them that we produced our paddles in the US and that the wholesale rate would be higher. They bit.

I told them that they would have to pay for shipping.

They had their own international shipping account.

I told them our turnaround times were longer than usual due to massive demand. They bit harder.

The more I resisted, the more they wanted me.

I have tried using reverse psychology in the past.

My success rate is a pretty even 50/50.

But on this occasion, here I was calling the shots with one of the biggest stores in the world.

One of the best things I have learned from fellow entrepreneurs is that sometimes you just gotta say no.

If you say yes to everyone, you might get distracted from your main mission and vision.

Have you had positive results from adopting this strategy?

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