Giant Peach joined Food Matters Live at the Dutch Embassy for an insightful industry briefing into maximising food and drink retail opportunities, for start up businesses. The talks covered everything from getting into retail stores, improving sales on ecommerce websites and making your brand go national.

Supplying Retailers in the Grocery Market // Purple Basil

Small brands can really help big retailers by offering differentiation, but it can be a tough task to get stocked into the stores in the first place. Jo Walker gave advice from her 16 years of experience in buying, product development and marketing, of the best way to get into the big retailers.

What do retailers and buyers want? They want a supplier base they can trust, with consistent stock each time, something which can be tricky for artisan producers. What’s more they want products that are in line with their customers needs.

Getting noticed. You need to be innovative, better quality or cheaper and prove to the retailers why your product is different.  

Before you approach. Do your research! Before even contacting retailers make sure you are clear on your customer, the market, prices and sales plans. Know your unique selling points inside out and be well rehearsed. Surprisingly, Jo has seen many pitches where the company has forgotten to even mention what the product is.

During the pitch. This is your chance to tell your all important brand story, so sell it, create emotion and convey your passion.

Glenilen Farm proved how small businesses can get it right. With a compelling story and gap in the market for healthy dairy desserts, they are now stocked in Waitrose, Tescos and Morrisons.

Improving your Ecommerce Conversions  // Giant Peach

Getting visitors to your website is only half of the hard work completed and converting their visits into sales can often be overlooked. James talked us through the steps that should be taken to ensure ecommerce sites are maximising every opportunity for conversion.

James Read

Global conversion rates are increasing but there's still a big difference between desktop and mobile, that's why user experience is so important when you're looking to increase conversions.

Site search is a must for ecommerce sites, but shockingly some big name ecommerce sites have only just started to offer site search, which is bonkers.

What a customer sees and reads on the product page forms a large part of the decision making process, so a well-designed product page with compelling copy will increase your chances of converting visitors into buyers. 

Finally, remember why you're here, there are still huge opportunities in ecommerce, carve out your niche and steel market share from the big boys.

Making Small Brands Stand Out // Union Hand-Roasted Coffee

On average products only have two seconds to grab the shoppers attention whilst on the shelf. Kerttu shared her story in how Union Hand-Roasted Coffee took steps to ensure they were the ones being chosen.

First, if you only have two seconds you need to really know who your customers are, and what stands out to them.

Next, don’t look like the rest. You need your packaging to stand out, so don’t follow the crowd. Kerttu found that especially within the coffee market, customers become immune to fairtrade and ethical certifications. They redesigned their packaging, ensuring they caught the customers’ eyes.

Once you’ve been noticed, pricing can then help signpost customers what to chose from your range. Union Coffee price their House Blends slightly cheaper, guiding consumers to pick this as an initial introduction to the brand.

Finally, once your brand is brought home, make them love it. Post-purchase, enable your customers to discover your product and brand, initiating brand loyalty.

The Route to Retail // The Foraging Fox

Next, Frankie from The Foraging Fox (the red lipstick of condiments that came from humble beginnings) talked about what she has learnt along the brand’s journey from kitchen to store.

Foraging Fox

Start with independents. We’ve all got to start somewhere, and independents are a great place. Use this time to perfect your brand, only approaching big retailers once you feel ready.

Sample, sample, sample. Whether that’s sampling at trade shows or in stores, sampling is your best opportunity to gain feedback but get your brand name out there at the same time.

Collaborate. Small producers need to work together to stand up against big producers. Whilst developing the product, speaking to other start ups was a vital source of information.

Don’t dismiss exports. Although exports may indicate a loss of control over the brand, they can combat problems with seasonality. Frankie's top tip was to ensure you work with manufacturers you trust and who get your brand.

Do’s and Don’ts of Building a National Brand // John Stapleton

John’s industry experience stretches from ‘87 until now, with brands such as New Covent Garden Soup Co and Little Dish under his belt. It’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about building a national brand. He shared his three do’s and don’ts to brand building.

Do #1 Know your target customer. Don’t assume you know who they are, get out there and do some research.
Do #2 Ensure everyone wears your brand hat. If you are outsourcing you need to make sure everyone gets your brand. Set brand guidelines from the start.
Do #3 Have a top-notch retailer pitch. You’ve only got one shot, so make sure you are ready for it.

Don’t #1 Design your brand too early. When launching your brand you will inevitably learn from trial and error, so leave time to redefine your brand for the market.
Don’t #2 Rely solely on social media. Social media can be a valuable tool to tap into communities whilst launching your product, but don’t become too fixated on it.
Don’t #3 Listen to conventional wisdom. There’s no one size fits all approach, what works for someone else might not work for you, you don’t have to stick to all the advice you hear.

The five speakers ensured the start-ups were educated and motivated to get their brand into retail. Taking away that you really need to know who your customer is, have a perfected pitch and make sure your brand stands out. Watch this space, there will be new brands coming to a store near you soon.