How to get listed at an international retailer – your step by step guide

Getting your product listed in an international supermarket can be a daunting task for suppliers. However, understanding the buyer’s perspective and following a few key guidelines can significantly increase your chances of success. In this article, we will explore the basic steps in a retailer’s supplier selection process, including supplier training, increasing visibility and commercial negotiation. In our previous article on the topic, we established what factors are important to consider before engaging with international retailers to list your product. In this article we will take a closer look at the listing process. 

Throughout the listing process, we need to consider the buyer’s stance. By doing this you will be able to establish how you, as a new supplier, can help the buyer meet their targets:

  • Will you drive more value than other brands?
  • Will it drive more margin for the buyer?
  • Is there a clear consumer demand for your brand? 

Supplier training & registration

All supermarkets operate supplier training courses on an online supplier portal – for example, Tesco’s training portal. These training portals are not only for existing suppliers, but for potential new suppliers as well. Through doing the training available on these portals, you will learn about what the supermarket requires and expects of you and your product. It is highly recommended that you sign up for these before engaging with the buyer, and on completion you will enhance your prospects of being selected as a supplier. You can find the supermarket’s training portal simply by searching on the internet: “(supermarket name) online supplier training”. Your local Chamber of Commerce may be able to facilitate your access to this type of training portal. Ask your Chamber for assistance in this regard. 

On the training portal will be instructions on how to sign up as a potential new supplier for the supermarket. It is important to prepare in advance, and not simply sign up and jump in. In addition to doing the supermarket’s supplier training courses, it is recommended to read all public domain information about the supermarket and build up a comprehensive understanding of their operations. In addition, identifying key buyers on LinkedIn can be helpful. It is also recommended to study market trends to gain a better understanding of the overall industry. 

Using online visibility platforms to get your products seen

For many new suppliers, becoming known and finding a route to market can be a challenging task. However, a low/no cost route to making your product known are online visibility platforms.  Online visibility platforms such as RangeMe offer multiple visibility programs that can showcase your products to relevant buyers in your category. RangeMe works by providing a free profile to highlight your brand’s products and company information, making it easier for you to be discovered by potential buyers. This low-risk, low-outlay approach can potentially result in a high reward for new small suppliers looking to break into the market.

Basic steps in a retailer’s supplier selection process: 

1. Range review

Every supermarket engages in ongoing gap analysis of their product lines and ranges. They measure this against ongoing market data and trend analysis. This is the point where they identify the need for new products – and this is your access point into the process. 

Supermarkets source new products through various channels, including:

  • Direct contact: Through supplier registration on their online supplier portals or direct inquiries through their other communication channels.
  • Trade shows: Supermarkets attend trade shows to discover new products and meet with manufacturers and distributors.
  • Consumer feedback: Supermarkets may also receive suggestions from customers about new products they would like to see on the shelves. This is why small brands’ level of off-shelf support is an important factor in listing in international supermarkets (see previous article).
  • Online research: Supermarkets also use online resources, such as supplier visibility programs, to stay informed about new products and brands in the market. They actively search for new products which they’ve identified a need for through online product directories.

2. Benchmarking

If they express an interest in your product, the retailer will invite you to send product samples, data sheets, and technical specifications; they want to know more about your capabilities and your capacities. You will then enter a process of engagement with the buying team to discuss your offer and whether you can satisfy them that you can meet their terms and conditions/standards. What is expected is proactive engagement with the buying team’s feedback, as this will form the basis of possible commercial negotiation.

3. Commercial negotiation. 

The buyer has a tender brief with terms and conditions that you, as the supplier, have to meet. If interested in listing your product, the buyer will send a competitive commercial offer based on the Buyer’s Brief, and you must meet the tender Terms and Conditions. If you satisfy those terms and conditions, then you will go on to discussing a contractual agreement. 

4. Product set up 

Here, you sign the contractual confirmation/agreement and your products will be listed in the supermarkets as per the agreement. 

From range review to product listing and launch, every step of the supplier selection process requires proactive engagement and the ability to meet the buyer’s terms and conditions. By understanding the process from the buyer’s stance, you can better prepare to help them meet their targets and drive value for their business. Supplier training, as well as displaying your brand on supplier visibility portals like RangeMe, can increase your chances of success as a new supplier. With careful preparation and engagement, small suppliers can break into the market and potentially achieve great rewards.

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Zoë Dolan

Trade consultant, researcher, writer

After receiving her degree, Zoë joined the Trade Logistics team as a trade consultant, researcher and writer, assisting multitudes navigate and grow in the world of international trade. In her free time, you can find her programming, baking, or reading a great book.

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