If you have a home improvement product or tool and are looking for retail distribution, The Home Depot is probably on your list. They have over 2200 stores in the United States, Mexico and Canada and cater to both the professional contractor and do-it-yourself consumers. Increasing your success of getting your building materials or products on the shelves of Home Depot is probably a top priority. Although there is no real ‘secret’ on how to sell to Home Depot, there are some proven steps you can take that will increase your chances of success.
Understanding the Home Depot Shoppers
The Home Depot is not like your average retail outlet. They have shoppers who have specific needs. You want to really zero in on these needs. For instance, up to almost 40% of sales in the big box chains are made through the Pro. Are you able to reach the pro? How about the DIFM and DIY-er groups? Do you even understand these terms which mean ‘do it for me’ and ‘do it yourself’? If this is the first time hearing these terms, chances are you are not ready for this big dog yet.
You may also make the mistake of thinking that all big boxes are the same. You need to study and understand the differences between a Home Depot and a Lowes shopper. They may seem like subtle differences, but they are real. You need to ask yourself does your product fit better at one or the other.
Forget the Sales Pitch
Instead, have a marketing plan. Share how you intend on creating excitement and interest with your brand and product plan for your category. Really, you must be answering the question, “why should I swap?” In order to add your product, the buyer usually has to cut out another.
You want to display to Home Depot how you plan on bringing them exclusivity or innovation. Just so you know, exclusivity typically goes well with reciprocation. This means you will only sell to Home Depot for a period of time.
Another very attractive benefit to the buyer is if you can show them how adding your product will not just result switching a customer sale from one brand to another. If you can show them how adding your product will grow the sales of his department, he will be more interested.
Submit Your Product Information
As a new product, you may not be able to get an infernos meeting initially. You will have to showcase your product online. They have a complete online vendor application process through their supplier application portal on their website. They do, however, encourage you to upload catalog links, records, photos, service licenses and a PowerPoint presentation along with your application.
Be Ready to Answer the Following Questions:
Is a current or future need being answered by your product?
Is Home Depot really the best outlet to put your product in?
What are the properties and characteristics of your product that distinguishes it from others?
Are you ready and prepared to handle the boost in production?
Are you financially able to handle the boost in sales when you will have to pay for expenses several months before you are paid.
Get in the Supplier Diversity Program, if you qualify.
It is a good idea to obtain certification through the Women Business Enterprise National Council or the National Minority Supplier Development Council to get into the Supplier Diversity Program in The Home Depot. Just click on the ‘Supplier Diversity’ links to learn more about it.
Make an Appearance in the National Hardware Show
Home Depot along with a lot of other big-time home and hardware outlets regularly attends this function. Showcasing your building materials or products in this show will give you the opportunity to network and gather up contact information of associates and buyers.
Check your Application Twice
You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Polish up and refine your application before you submit it. It is the buyers who decide on accepting new vendors, and they usually do not review applications more than once. Prepare yourself for success and expect a big increase in product distribution. This starts with a polished application.
Getting your Products on the Shelves is Just the Beginning
Congratulations! You managed to get your product on the shelves of Home Depot. Now, what? Well, now is the time for you to demonstrate how you are going to drive sales. This will take more than just having your product on the shelf.
You should come up with a promotion plan that may get you into Home Depot advertising or in special display areas in the stores.Your ‘silent salesman’ package design should be compelling and powerful since locating an associate on the floor is not simple and not to mention they know less about the newer products and brands.
Now that you are learning how to sell to Home Depot, it is time to check out their website and go through the vendor/supplier application process. This process can take a little while, however, if you adhere to all their regulations, rules and terms, you can feel confident that you are putting your product in very good hands.
Here’s another important shift at Home Depot for you to consider.
For more information on selling to Home Depot and growing your builder sales, please contact us.