First the good news: If your product is ready to go and on pallets, there’s still time to get it into major retailers’ stores by Christmas. But if you’re still in the design phase, you may be too late for Christmas 2017.
Right now, it’s March. And yes, there’s a madness for planning the 2017 holiday season. Now is the time to approach retailers with your ready-to-go product. Retailers are planning their holiday promotions, marketing and floorsets. Big boxes and boutiques are deciding how much of their resources they’re allocating to the all-important 4th quarter. If you want to be included in their plans you need to act now and fast, or focus your energy on hitting the 2018 cycle. If you have an Indiegogo campaign that is live or are thinking of launching one, shoot to fulfill your orders with enough time to ramp production back up for 2018.
To understand why you need to start so early, you need to look at it from the retailer’s perspective:
Q1: The hunt is on
The retailer is aggressively on the hunt for new products. They are attending CES, Housewares, Toy Fair and other tradeshows. They are scouring the Internet looking for the newest and the best. They are holding pitch events and taking meetings with vendors and makers from all over the world in search of that year’s Holiday assortment that will bring them success. If you are launching your product this year before Q4, you want to be in front of them now.
Q2: Testing 1, 2, 3
Many retailers like to test new and innovative products before they commit to a large inventory buy. Store testing for most retailers takes 4 to 6 weeks. Add another 1 to 2 weeks for accepting the inventory and distributing it to store locations and you are at 8 weeks to determine if the retailer will stock your product for Holiday. If your test is successful, the retailer will want to negotiate and lock in the inventory. The retailer will then allocate precious shelf space to your product. The later you get to retailers the less space they have to fill. You may have an awesome product, but if the retailer has already spent their budget and assigned all their space, there is nothing the retailer can do to get your product into stores. (See section on Q1.)
Q3: Don’t miss your shipment
If you’re in, the agreed upon inventory needs to be in a retailer’s warehouse by Q3. This allows the retailer enough time to distribute to stores without blowing all the profits on rush shipping charges. The Holiday buying season is starting earlier and earlier each year. Retailers will begin setting up their stores for Holiday by the end of October and if your product is in their floorset plan it needs to be in by Halloween at the latest.
Every person in the retailer’s organization is focused on selling in store and online. There’s just no time to talk to anyone about anything other than making sure everything is perfect for the customer in our stores.
Retailers may say they’re doing some preliminary planning for next year, but this is (mostly) false. You’re going to have a MUCH better chance of getting your product noticed and bought if you get it to them early in the year. (Again, see section on Q1).
No-matter what your product launch plans, Brookstone wants to help! If you are an Indiegogo campaigner or product entrepreneur who is interested in selling on Brookstone, submit your project for the opportunity to get distribution in Brookstone Stores.