From Online to In-store: A Behind-the-scenes Look at Working with Retailers

Seeing their products on store shelves is a moment few business owners ever forget.

But how does the process actually work? 

We followed one entrepreneur for several months to get a behind-the-scenes look at working with mass retailers.

Today, we're sharing everything we learned.

In this TGIM short, you'll...

  • Get an inside look into dealing with product buyers at big chain retailers
  • Discover Fitlosophy's three pieces of advice for getting into stores
  • Find out how to prep for big meetings, and what you need to know beforehand

Check out the full short below:

Want to hear more? Listen to the full episode of TGIM.

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Female: "It's 11AM, Angela Mayer grabs her phone in her home office in Denver."

Female: "Please enter your access code."

Female: "Angela is the founder of Fitlosophy and creator of Fit Book. That's her signature fitness and nutrition journal. She has some high stakes negotiations in the works with Target and Walgreens. Target has over 1700 stores, Walgreens, 8000."

Angela: "These deals that we're talking about, they may just seem oh, Walgreens, Target. This could double or triple our business in one year."

Female: "Her company hit the one-million dollar mark a couple of years ago with their Live Life Fit products and programs. She has this driving motto."

Angela: "We operate under this notion of say yes and figure it out later."

Female: "Today is a figure it out day. She is on a call with her team of five in the Orange County California Office. Retailers are considering her journals and a calendar and she has gotten a Target buyer interested in a concept for the fitness aisle. Now, she needs to make some of these products come to life. She and her team begin brainstorming."

Angela: "Our creative concepts are due this week. Do you guys have any epiphanies?"

Female: "Mine was, "I'm sorry for what I said when I was hungry.""

Female: "Angela tells them it's D-day for Target. Then in the middle of a call, Tiana tells her to go check her e-mail."

Angela: "Steve, did we get an e-mail from Walgreens? Hold on, what? Oh my god."

Female: "She reads her e-mail right then."

Angela: "Today is going to be different than planned. Oh dear god."

Female: "What happened next tested one of their signature strengths, their nimbleness. First, let's take a step back in Angela's story and look at how she built a company that plays in the big leagues of mass retailers. Angela's first and signature product, Fit Book was born from pain. For seven years beginning when she was 14, she battled anorexia and bulimia. In college, she had admitted herself into this treatment program. One thing she learned as she recovered was the value of journaling. She wanted a cute fitness journal with no calorie counting that emphasized healthy goal setting. She made one. Then one day at the gym, she realized someone else would be interested in it. She was using her fit book and this guy comes up to her."

Angela: "He is like, "Hey, where did you get that?" "It's my company," not my company, I had one. He said, "Can I get one? Actually I want two.""

Female: "So she made two for him. With her new found health, she really wanted help other people. She went to production with the first drawn of a thousand fit books and launched her company in 2008. She shipped those initial fit books from her home and didn't take a salary the first few years. They've been profitable since day 1 and have distributed half a million fit books."

Angela: "My ideas aren't better. I just do them."

Female: "Back to the day of team brainstorming call and the e-mail that she got in the middle of it."

Angela: "Today is going to be different than planned. Oh dear god. Okay, so we just got an e-mail from Walgreens that they want the following items within the Walgreen systems by end of day today. Oh my god. Why do they do this to me?"

Female: "Walgreen wanted products that she had pitched but they wanted pricing and dimensions by 5PM. The problem with that? Those products didn't physically exist yet. That's because a lot of what Angela and her team pitches is designed exclusively for their vendors. Designing and mocking up concepts is time consuming. They are due next week. She tells her team, "This is huge.""

Angela: "Just so you guys know, this is huge. This is huge."

Female: "When the team call ended, Tiana gets on the floor, measuring fake products to get Walgreen their info by 5. Angela and her designer Lanie, they work on the Target concepts and a few hours later, she calls her Target rep. Shows her online slides of designs and products, including one that they had conceived just that morning. Target is considering them for an entire in-cap. You know, this displays at the ends of long shelves. It's a retail big deal. You know when you see clearance items there, well, it's not Target taking a price hit, it's the vendors, the Fitlosophies. How much you'll fund is always negotiated upfront. These are called markdown dollars. Those are the kinds of terms that you'll need to understand if you're an entrepreneur wanting to get products into retail chains. Angela has several tips for you."

"The first, ooze passion, but know the lingo. Get to know terms like MSRP and markdown dollars so they don't go with an existing vendor who offers a similar product. Angela and her Target Rep, Michelle Clipful start talking markdown dollars. They are hashing out some pretty big numbers."

Michelle: "If you can build them $100,000 just markdown somehow, someway in the cost as well as this other stand, I'm telling you, Angela that the [inaudible]"

Female: "That was $100,000 she was suggesting Angela eat if the products didn't sell and had to be sold at clearance prices."

Angela: "I just felt my child college as acute and go out the door. She is my shining light"

Michelle: "Understand that when you're building on a whole program and you're planning on being a whole entire end capsules, there are additional cost dollars that comes through the door."

Angela: "Yeah."

Female: "Fitlosophy can concept ideas and work deals faster than some of us take to nap. They pitch product lines that don't exist, create exclusives. They do corporate and school programs and design things that buyers want them to create. Angela's second piece of advice for working with chain buyers, bring value to the table. Position yourself as an industry expert. You got to get to know the trends and your competition and show them how your brand can help set them apart. Sometimes that competitive advantage to might however big companies is in being small. What's happened while we've been a fly on the wall watching her do business? Her mantra of saying yes first is paying off big time. On the day of the team call and Target call, they made their Walgreens 5:00 deadline. Then a few weeks later, another deal."

Angela: "Okay, we have a call."

Female: "It's with another mass retailer."

Angela: "I take it you like the concepts we presented."

Female: "I loved them of course."

Angela: "You're saying full chain at the same time?"

Female: "Yeah, full chain."

Angela: "Wohoo."

Female: "That meant another product hitting 700 stores. After negotiating with Walgreens, three products are going into a thousand stores year-round and two of her products are hitting a holiday in-cap in 6500 stores. Another major retailer is selling her fit portions meal prep set. Target carries her journals and an in-cap deal is in negotiations with them. Fitlosophy concepted, sourced, designed. They presented. They got approval. Created samples and created packaging in just weeks. One retail partner ..."

Angela: "Decides they want it. Walgreens decides they want that. I'm like, "All right. It's go time.""

Female: "Angela's third tip that you can use as an entrepreneur to help get your products in big stores, it's this, over deliver."

Angela: "There is this concept of luck, I don't believe in it. But they say luck is preparation meets opportunity. The truth is I'm rarely prepared for an opportunity but I always, always deliver."

Female: "Say yes. Figure it out later, and never take no for an answer. She says after you do land the deal, forecast wisely, plan your cash accordingly. Then hustle like never before."

About TGIM: TGIM is a podcast for people who can’t wait for the week to start. In each episode we’ll be bringing you inspirational stories about entrepreneurs who have overcome obstacles, built incredible businesses, and are now living the life they want.