How to Pitch your Product to Big Retailers

Pitch To A Big Retailer

Fetola’s Anton Ressel recently sat down with Michelle Strydom of SME South Africa to dish out some tips about pitching a product to a big corporate.

If you feel that you have a product that is worth pitching to a big retailer like Pick n Pay, you need to make sure that your offering is up to scratch,” he says.

Anton is the founder and director of ARC Consulting and he is the Director of Fetola Foundation, an enterprise development firm.

“Don’t assume that because your product is in demand – or you personally believe it to be a good product – that this is enough to ensure success,” says Anton.

Anton gives four ways to prepare for that all-important meeting:

1. Pitch to the right person within the retailer

“It all starts with talking to ‘the man’. Find out who “the man” is or ‘the woman’. This is the person who has the authority to buy – or to decline to buy – the product you wish to sell. This can be established by calling the retailer in question and requesting to speak to the relevant buyer or category manager, based on the nature of your product. Don’t waste your time engaging with the wrong person.”

2. Build a relationship with the retailer

“Firstly, long-term success depends on building a relationship with the buyer/s. Chat with them about their needs. Find out what price points work for them. Take the time to find out whether the product you have to offer is likely to be of interest before going to see them. This entails doing research. Do they stock similar products? Have they stocked something similar in the past but no longer do so?”

3. Prepare to answer tough questions

“Be prepared to leave samples behind and be able to answer any questions they may have around price, capacity, lead times, distribution channels and delivery related queries. In other words, be prepared as per the Boy Scouts motto. Know your price points, particularly around quantity discounts, how low you are prepared to go, and what payment terms you can absorb. 30, 60, 90 days?”

4. Pitch the whole business, not only the product

“Establish delivery expectations and other criteria such as after-sales service expectations, warranty requirements and so on. Ensure that you’re in a position to efficiently manage the full 360-degree spectrum of the sale process. In other words, having a good product to offer is only a small element of the total expectation of a retailer.

How to Pitch


Michelle StrydomMichelle Strydom is a small business journalist for SME South Africa. BA journalism graduate from the University of Johannesburg. Areas of focus are entrepreneurs, startups, marketing, and funding.