Marketing New Wholesale Products To Walmart

Introducing New Products

 

Why is it that so many new wholesale products fail on the market? Usually many reasons. Companies often are so in love with their new product they fail to do their research, or worse, they ignore what the research tells them. Pricing or distribution channels are wrong. Maybe the advertising doesn’t communicate. Successful new product launches result from a long process of research and solving problems before the launch date. NOTE: I finally gathered my buyers contact information where you can present your product yourself. Get hold of me for the list and it includeds most of the major retailers. This way you can get straight to thr right buyer and not be transfered to the automated system like everyone else!

Preparing for Market
Packaging

Other than the actual quality of the product, many other factors can determine market success. You can also add perceived value by packaging your product differently, or bundling a service and presenting it in a glossy brochure . How the product is packaged can have a big effect on who buys the product, and how it is perceived after purchase. Product packaging is the box that the product is enclosed in.

Depending on where the product will be sold, packaging importance can vary greatly. If the  invention is sitting on a shelf among many competing products, a cool or professional appearance could be needed to gain attention. On the other hand, if most sales are made on the Internet, the box the product comes in doesn’t matter as much. The customer has already been sold on buying the merchandise and doesn’t need to be persuaded any further. The web site is the key marketing tool and “packaging” that sells online products.

It is important to consider whom the target market is, who is buying the product off the shelves or from the web site? If the product is marketed to teenagers, the packaging might have explosive colors and designs to make it “cool” to buy. The same goes for the web site; it must appeal to teenagers so they will want to buy the product. If the target market is older people ages 60 to 90, maybe the web isn’t a great packing tool and the product packaging should be plain with big writing.

Product packaging is an important element to consider before going to market. It can alter the way a product is perceived by customers. For more information on product design or if you simply need to ask questions you can go

HERE. 

Determine your market

Nothing spells disaster like the lack of not having your target market identified. Market research does more than confirm your “gut feeling” to many new entrepreneurs rely to much on their gut feelings. Just because ” you think” your product is the best thing since the light bulb, does not mean anyone else will have the same feelings.


Take for example a man I knew a few years ago. He was an investor, you would think he would know all about launching new products. After all he had made millions of dollars investing in inventors and startup companies. One day he had an idea for a new educational game. He applied for a patent and produced a prototype. Instead of doing his homework…he sent overseas to have his game manufactured. A few months later he received his bright shiny new games all packaged up and ready to hit the store shelves of retailers like WALMART. He called a few buyers and asked to make appointments. Walmart was one of the first that hit him with the bomb shell of ‘not knowing’ his target market. You can’t just walk in the doors to present new products to buyers and not know these things. This is were you have to know what your talking about and get that message over in a hurry. They (buyers) don’t have time to sit down with you and figure out your game plan. Sad to say, he failed. Before he finally gave up on his idea he had spent thousands of dollars. His number one problem was not doing proper research and another was thinking “his way” is always right!

Timing

Are all the elements of the process coordinated? Is production on the same time schedule as the promotion? Will your product be ready when you announce it? Set a time frame for the roll out and stick with it. Miss it, and invite failure. There are marketing tales a mile long about companies who announce a new product only having to re announce when the product lags behind in manufacturing. The result is loss of credibility, loss of sales, and another failure.

 

How To Patent An Invention Before You Sell It To Walmart

If your new to the world of inventing you should first visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office .

There are different types of patents.

Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof.

Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

MARKETING YOUR INVENTION

There are basically three ways to market your invention.

    • Licensing
    • Producing and selling it yourself
    • Collaborating with another business or university

How to Turn Nothing Into Something
By Jim Rohn

Excerpted from the Jim Rohn Weekend Seminar-Excelling in the New Millennium)

Have you ever wondered how to turn nothing into something?

First, in order to turn nothing into something, you’ve got to start with some ideas and imagination.

Now, it might be hard to call ideas and imagination nothing; but how tangible are those ideas? That is a bit of a mystery. I don’t believe that ideas that can be turned into a hotel, ideas that can be turned into an enterprise, ideas that can be turned into a new vaccine or ideas that can be turned into some miracle product, should be called nothing. But tangibly, you have nothing.

Interesting! Think of it, ideas that become so powerful in your mind and in your consciousness that they seem real to you even before they become tangible. Imagination that is so strong, you can actually see it.

When I built my first home for my family in Idaho all those years ago, before I started construction, I would take my friends and associates out to the vacant property and give them a tour of the house. Is that possible? Is it possible to take someone on a tour through an imaginary house? And the answer is, “Yes, of course.” “Here is the 3 car garage,” I used to say, and my friends would look and say, “Yes, this garage will hold 3 cars.” I could really make it “live”. I would take them on a tour throughout the house… “Here is the fireplace, and look, this side is brick and the other side is stone.” I could make it so real… “Follow me through the rest of the house. Take a look through the picture window here in the kitchen, isn’t the view great?” One day, I made the house so real that one of my friends bumped his elbow on the fireplace. I mean, it was that real.

So, the first step of turning nothing into something is to imagine the possibilities. Imagine All of the possibilities. One of the reasons for seminars, sermons, lyrics from songs and testimonials of others is to give us an idea of the possibilities; to help us imagine and to see the potential.

Now here is the second step for turning nothing into something, you must Believe that what you imagine Is possible for you. Testimonials like, “If I can do it, you can do it.” often become a support to our belief. And we start believing. First we imagine it’s possible. Second, we start to believe that what’s possible is possible for us.

We might also believe because of our own testimonial. Here is what your testimonial might say, “If I did it once, I can do it again. If it happened for me before, it could very well happen again.” So we believe not only the testimonials of others who say, “If I can do it, you can do it. If I can change, you can change. If I can start with nothing, you can start with nothing. If I can turn it all around, you can turn it all around.” Then we also have the support of our own testimonial, if we’ve accomplished something before. “If we did it once, we can do it again. If we did it last year, we can do it this year.” So those two things together are very powerful. Now, we do not have actual substance yet, although it is very close.

Again, step one is to imagine the possibilities. Step two is to imagine that what is possible is possible for you. Here is what we call step two – faith to believe. In fact, one writer said this, “Faith is substance.” An interesting word, “substance”, the powerful ability to believe in the possibilities that are possible for you. If you have faith to believe… that faith is substance, substance meaning “a piece of the real.” Now it’s not “the real”, it’s not this podium, but it is so powerful that it is very close to being real and so the writer said, “The faith is a piece of, the substance of”. He then goes on to call it evidence, substance and evidence. It is difficult to call substance and evidence “nothing”. It is nothing in the sense that it cannot be seen except with the inner eye. You can’t get a hold of it because it isn’t Yet tangible. But it is possible to turn nothing, especially ideas and imaginations, into something if you believe that it is now possible for you. That substance and evidence becomes so powerful that it can now be turned into reality.

So the first step is to imagine what is possible, the second is to have the faith to believe that what is possible is possible for you. And now the third step is to that you go to work to make it real. You go to work to make it a hotel. You go to work to make it an enterprise. You go to work and make it good health. You go to work and make it an association. You go to work and make it a good marriage. You go to work and make it a movement; you make it tangible. You make it viable. You breathe life into it and then you construct it. That is such a unique and powerful ability for all of us human beings. Put this to work and start the miracle process today!

To Your Success,

Jim Rohn

Reproduced with permission from Jim Rohn’s Weekly E-zine.
Copyright 2005 Jim Rohn International. All rights reserved
worldwide. To subscribe to Jim Rohn’s Weekly E-zine, go to
http://Jim-Rohn.InspiresYOU.com

 

Frequently Asked Questions BY Walmart Vendors

If Supplier is brand new with no Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club supplier number how do I apply to become a Supplier and get an approved supplier number?

Once the questionnaire is submitted the Supplier cannot view anything until the buyer either rejects the questionnaire and/or initiates the supplier agreement. The Supplier will know the questionnaire has been received by Supplier Development IF the supplier receives an e-mail from RL (Retail Link) within 24 hours or less of submission. This e-mail gives the supplier their userid and password (#4) for access to retail link if the supplier agreement is granted/initiated. (E-mail not received- questionnaire not received) Once the questionnaire is reviewed by the Buyer- the Supplier will receive an e-mail message either rejecting or initiating the supplier agreement.

What is a Dun & Bradstreet?

A. D&B (Supplier Evaluation Report ­ SER) is a financial report that is given by “Dun & Bradstreet” to the requesting supplier company showing their Risk Rating of 1 ­ 9 and other information concerning the requesting company. This report (SER) is required to be purchased by the supplier in order to process the questionnaire to Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club Supplier needs to contact D&B in their local area to give information for this report (SER) to be established before filling out the questionnaire. D&B will ask questions and a fee will be charged by D&B to establish this report (SER). When filling out the On-line questionnaire for WM or Sam’s, the screen will request your credit card number, which will enable you to purchase the Supplier Evaluation Report for $75 ­ The SER will attach to the questionnaire for submission to Wal-Mart/ Sam’s Club. If this report is not available/or does not attach -the questionnaire will not process.

What is the status of my questionnaire?

Once the questionnaire is submitted the Supplier cannot view anything until the buyer either rejects the questionnaire and/or initiates the supplier agreement. The Supplier will know the questionnaire has been received by Supplier Development IF the supplier receives an e-mail from RL (Retail Link) within 24 hours or less of submission. This e-mail gives the supplier their userid and password (#4) for access to retail link if the supplier agreement is granted/initiated. (E-mail not received- questionnaire not received) Once the questionnaire is reviewed by the Buyer- the Supplier will receive an e-mail message either rejecting or initiating the supplier agreement.

What is a Userid and Password?

A new supplier will receive an e-mail from RL (retail link) giving them a userid and password that will be used to access the supplier agreement in retail link if supplier agreement is initiated.

Existing Supplier needing New Dept/Sequence Number

How do I get a New Department/Sequence number?

Two Options:

A. Supplier with an existing supplier number will go into Retail Link using their Userid and password (6# and #7)­ will click on Merchandising tab, then On-line supplier agreement, then NEW QUESTIONNAIRE and will fill out questionnaire. The supplier will purchase the D&B- (SER) (if systems asks supplier to do so) and then clicks on submit.

B. Buyer sends the Supplier a New Dept/Seq Questionnaire, which the supplier may access from the on-line agreement Home Page. Click on NEW DEPT/SEQ and complete the questionnaire. Update/submit.

Process may be started by either option above.

What is a Userid and Password?

A. Userid and password is required for a Supplier to be able to access Wal-Mart’s/Sam’s Club’s computer information system called Retail Link. Retail Link is used to get reports regarding the sales of products, complete the on-line supplier agreement, and obtain information about how to do business with our company. This information helps the Supplier and buyer to better manager sales, inventory, and enables both parties to communicate effectively.

How do I get a Userid and Password?

A. Supplier should call Retail Link Hotline 479-273-8888 and follow prompts.

Renewal Agreement Process

How is a renewal agreement started?

.A renewal agreement may only be accessed by the Supplier when the buyer initiates the desired supplier agreement by department and sequence number under the Upcoming Renewal Agreements heading. Only the supplier can make changes to the supplier Agreement.

Status Questions

What is the status of my supplier agreement?

Suppliers can review the status of their supplier agreement once they have signed the agreement (by hitting the ACCEPT button at the end of the supplier agreement) and it has moved into Pending Agreement on Retail Link’s Home Page.

Go into Pending Agreement ­ under View Approval Status ­ If any of the approval groups are on HOLD, click on name of department and view reason for Hold and what needs to be done to fix the agreement.

After Fixing error ­ click on ACCEPT button to approve corrections. Agreement will move forward in the approval process.

How do I get back into the supplier agreement to make a correction?

A. Supplier will go into Retail Link ­ Merchandising ­ On-line supplier agreement- Pending Agreement ­ clicks on ‘No Number Assigned’ or ‘the number’ in the first column. -Read, – then click on accept, click on OK, supplier agreement will appear and changes may be made.

After changes are complete-Click on the ACCEPT button at the end of the supplier agreement to accept your changes. (If Accept is not clicked the on -line process cannot continue.)

The buyer may see the changes as soon as the supplier hits the accept button by clicking on the refresh button.

B. An Agreement should not be REJECTED if only a change is needed ( if rejected at this point, the supplier agreement will have to be started over from the beginning) .

Procedure: Buyer calls Supplier and requests changes,

Supplier makes change — hits ACCEPT button making changes complete.

Buyer views change by clicking on the REFRESH button.

The supplier agreement goes back to the Approval Group the change affected and the change is approved, process continues, and supplier agreement is complete when number is seen in CURRENT AGREEMENTS.

What does Pending, Hold, and Approval mean in the View Approval Status?

A. PENDING means the approving department has not yet looked at the agreement. If pending status remains for more than 48 hours, supplier should call their Buyer and request the buyer to find out why that department has not processed the agreement.

HOLD means there is something wrong with the way the agreement has been filled out and the supplier should click on the name of the department and read the reason for the hold status. Supplier should ‘fix’ the error and click on ACCEPT at the end of the supplier agreement to accept the changes.

APPROVED means the approval department has approved the agreement.

How To Sell Your Products To Walmart

The first step to being a WALMART vender is to go online at WALMART Stores and submit detailed financial info about your company. You can also call corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.. Operators will refer you to the appropriate department for the information you need. You also must be listed with and order and pay for two DUN & BRADSTREET reports. WALMART wants to know you can handle your biz. In addition to following these steps, you must apply for Universal Product Code (UPC) Identification number (s) meet applicable liability and workers compensation insurance requirements, pass quality assurance testing, and meet Labeling and Packaging requirements. If you survive that round, you might just find yourself in that big ole parking lot filled with rental cars from fellow venders… your competition. Don’t worry, there will be many scared faces to match yours.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

BEFORE you submit that questionnaire remember you usually have ONE chance to sell to these buyers “They don’t have time to BS”. The buyers at WALMART have become even more demanding. In fact, these days, venders have to prove they have what it takes to handle Walmart’s massive production and Walmart size returns long before negotiations begin. You can’t even get pass the front door without showing proof that you have adequate financing.

Step one for potential venders is to go to a Walmart Super Center and figure out where your product should be placed. If you find a spot you think you should overtake then you better be ready to say “Why your product is better” and can be sold cheaper. Get to know your competitors and who they are.

YOUR ODDS

Bentonville is a really long way from anywhere. Here in the south, business is still done the good- ole- boy country way. Most buyers are male. They pretty much fall into three categories, with the most experienced likely to be in their early 40’s making $75,000 or more a year. Even a beginning buyer, at age 27 making as little as $30,000 a year, has power…lot’s of power! The typical buyer is a “Child of the Ozarks” meaning “a local boy” but they also very smart and tough. These kids control millions and millions of dollars in purchasing power. Pitch rooms in which these buyers have you in operate usually reserved for no more than 45 minutes to an hour, vendors presentations better be short and sweet. If you don’t get to the point quickly, then your done. They say, ‘Don’t like, move on. Don’t like it move on’. So be very prepared when you go.
Why should they be expected to replace an established product having a proven track record for “zillions” of order cycles with a new product that has not been heard of before? In essence, what you are asking the buyer is to dilute that share of a proven and known value with an unproven and unknown value. New product failures are not how buyers keep their jobs.

Another consideration is the amount of open-to-buy the buyer has for his department. In other words, how many dollars does he have left in his budget to spend on product, whether new or old? Seasonal returns, advertising and sales promotions, departmental landed gross, interest on inventory purchased, and markdowns both current and year-to-date all play a factor in determining the amount of available open-to-buy the buyer has to spend.

Seasonal buying for an event during the forthcoming year begins during the same event in the current year, and perhaps as much as 40% of the buyer’s annual budget is spent during the months following that season as it leads to the next. Juggling those dollars is a very complicated and formulated process!

Figure in the average turns per year, gross markup at retail versus landed gross, net profit budgeted versus actual profit due to markdowns, and a virtual plethora of other factors complicate the matter. Then figure how may square feet and the dollars per square feet (sometimes even dollars per square inch!) each known product will bring in to conform to a certain shelf profile or gondola modular layout that will maximize and enhance his department’s sales in order to come in at or over budget in all of the above except inventory, and one can begin to readily see why a buyer may not really be interested in new products.

So again, your presentation and salesmanship better be good. If not hire someone!

WALMART’S LITTLE SECRET

One of best kept secrets to Walmart is their LOCAL VENDOR PROGRAM. This program is one of the easiest ways to become a vendor. Your products usually need to be unique and locally referenced in some way. This program is the best way for small local business to set up shop with Walmart which allows smaller orders to be distributed in your local area. Starting at a slow pace can let you get a feel of how Walmart operates. What I did was call my local Walmart store and ask to speak with the general manager. We then set up a time for him to look over my product. After this meeting he gave me a local vendor application. I filled out the application and brought it back to him to send in with his referral. Store managers have the power to refer any new product they think would be good for their store.

DON’T FORGET YOUR EDI

You must have an EDI to do business with Walmart. Click this link to go to the EDI site.

Click here to go to the EDI site…

Covalentwork’s web-based EDI solution providers everything a supplier needs to easily exchange EDI transactions with any of the major retailers. No software is required. EDI VAN service, training and support are all included at no extra charge.

Walmart’s Minority And Women’s Supplier Program

The goal is to provide training to 1 million farmers and farm workers, of which half will be women, in emerging markets.

By the end of FY2015, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation had contributed to training 564,321 farmers of which 297,655 were women. As of this date, funding was in place to reach a total of 837,449 farmers, including 475,537 women. During 2014, the Walmart Foundation funded four projects in Africa and Asia that will train 151,000 farmers, an estimated 79,967 being women.

Additionally, Walmart provides technical assistance to small and medium-sized growers in our supply chain through our various sourcing organizations, such as U.K.-based International Procurement and Logistics, U.S.-based Global Food Sourcing and Hortifruti in Central America.

Qiang BoPing: Improving yields for Chinese apple growers

Qiang BoPing is one of 200,000 Chinese apple growers learning sustainable agricultural practices through a program made possible by a Walmart Foundation grant to Cornell University and the University of California, Davis. Smallholder apple farmers in China face many production problems, including low productivity and poor fruit quality due to wide use of seedling rootstocks, overuse of fertilizers and rising labor costs. This training program addresses these and other key issues through a partnership with the provincial extension system and agricultural universities in both Shandong and Shaanxi Provinces. To date, 149,233 Chinese apple farmers have received training through the program. This training program has enabled apple farmers to adopt high-density planting systems on dwarfing rootstocks and associated sustainable management practices to improve yield, fruit quality and income on their family orchards while reducing the environmental impact of apple farming in China.

Women Owned and Minority Suppliers

Wal-Mart began its Minority & Women-Owned Business Development Program in 1994 and, since that time, has increased its number of minority and women-owned business suppliers.
The purpose of this program is to help develop the potential of minority and women-owned businesses that provide retail goods or services. The support WALMART offers is as varied as the individuals involved, but their goal is constant: to ensure the business approach reflects the broad marketplace. Through this program, assistance in locating resources, as well as guidance and consultation are available to help program participants to become Wal-Mart suppliers. But, whether they become a Wal-Mart supplier or not, the goal is to help them develop their individual businesses.
If your business is minority or woman-owned, Wal-Mart requires that you become certified by one of the authorized site certifying organizations. The National Minority Supplier Development Council or one of its regional affiliates certifies minority-owned firms and the Women Business Enterprise National Council certifies those firms considered women-owned.
If your business is both minority and woman-owned, you need only one of the previously mentioned certifications.
By becoming a certified Minority / Women-Owned Enterprise you do not only become a part of an organization committed to developing your firm. You also become part of a network that is supported by more than 3,500 corporate members including most of America’s largest publicly-owned, privately-owned and foreign-owned companies, as well as universities, hospitals and other buying institutions. In addition, the regional affiliates help to match your firm with member corporations, which want to purchase goods and services. For example, in 1997, member corporations of NMSDC purchased more than $36.1 billion from its certified members. When you become certified, you become part of a database from which Wal-Mart and other Fortune 500 companies, ranging from retail outlets to service organizations, actively seek suppliers.

Here is the link to appy http://sc-tforce2-12c37e19579-12f0cb8bf15.force.com/

Walmart’s Little Secret

Wal-Mart Local Vendor Program

The Local Supplier Questionnaire may be obtained from your local Store Manager/Food Merchandiser after he/she reviews your product and if he/she wants to sell your item(s) in their store. Two signatures required after the Supplier fills out the questionnaire completely (all blanks filled in). The store manager, and/or the District Manager’s (general merchandise) or Food Merchandiser’s ( food items) should sign the questionnaire and list the Store numbers (by District) requesting the product.

Supplier will submit completed Local Supplier Questionnaire directly to Local Purchases at the Home Office. Requirements for a Complete Packet: (address on questionnaire.)

  1. Dun & Bradstreet number – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will run a “Supplier Evaluation Report” on all potential Suppliers (liquor excluded). Supplier should request a Supplier Evaluation Report be set up for their company by calling D&B at (866) 815-2749.
  2. UCC Membership Number – UPC scanning label is required. A copy of the letter or Certificate identifying your assigned number should be included with the sample and Questionnaire when mailed. For a Universal Code Council number call – (937) 435-3870
  3. Supplier Insurance Requirements A copy of your Certificate of Liability Insurance will be requested once your company has been accepted by the buyer (a fax number will be provided when the insurance certificate is required). Please do not make changes or purchase insurance until requested by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. An Accord Liability form is preferred.
    Do not forward a certificate of insurance until a buyer has granted a supplier agreement, at that time, show your insurance company this information so they can provide a certificate of insurance showing the following:

    • The supplier name must show exactly the same as on the supplier agreement.
    • $2 Million in Product & completed operations
    • $2 Million in Personal Injury & advertising injury
    • $2 Million in Each Occurrence
    • $2 million minimum required unless otherwise requested by insurance compliance department. Coverage is based on the risk of the product being sold. The supplier will be advised of the required liability limits.
    • An excess liability or an umbrella policy may be shown to increase the primary limits.
    • Insurance company must show 30 days written notice in case of cancellation.
    • List as additional insured: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., its subsidiaries & affiliates
    • Show as certificate holder: Wal-Mart Stores Inc., its subsidiaries & affiliates, 702 SW 8th Street, Bentonville, AR, 72716-0145
    • A renewal certificate will be required to be faxed on or before the expiration date. Do not mail a hard copy.
    • If the insurance policy is on a claims-made basis, other requirements must be met before any approval can be considered.

Workers’ Compensation: 
Entering onto Wal-Mart property while product is being delivered Workers’ Compensation is required. (Statutory workers’ comp laws must comply with insured’s respective state).

Employers’ Liability (entering onto Wal-Mart property): 
$1 million per occurrence (waiver of subrogation is available where permitted by law).

Important: Your certificate must name The Certificate Holder as “Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., its affiliates and subsidiaries, 702 SW 8th St., Bentonville, AR. 72716”. The Description of the Operations section must read “Certificate Holder is listed as additional insured”. Notice of cancellation must be 30 days.

Notice of cancellation must be 30 days.

If the certificate of insurance does not comply with these requests, the forms will be returned and no supplier agreement will be issued until compliance is met.

Minority Certification (all minority & women-owned suppliers): 
Please FAX a copy of your Minority Certificate to 479-277-2532. Please enclose in your proposal packet a copy of your Minority Certificate. If your business is minority-owned, you may be certified by the National Minority Suppliers Development Council (NMSDC), or one of its regional affiliates. If your business is woman-owned, you may be certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). If your business is both minority and woman-owned, you need only one of the previously mentioned certifications. For additional information refer to the National Supplier guidelines.

Make copies of your Local Supplier Questionnaire and Insurance Certificate. (Keep for your files)

Forward all requirements to:

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Attn: Local Purchases
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, AR 72716-0145     

How To Become A Product Reviewer For Walmart

A Spark reviewer reports that Walmart sends a list of about 100 items each month, ranging from groceries to furniture. Spark reviewers test the products and write reviews. Reviews must be 200 words or longer, and all reviews meeting this requirement are posted, whether they are positive or negative in tone.

Spark reviewers are chosen on the basis of the quality and quantity of the reviews they wrote before they were invited into the program, and most also took the time to answer other consumer’s questions at Walmart.com.

Amazon’s Vine Voices program, an invitation-only cadre of top reviewers who receive free products to test and review, has been in operation for about a decade. Vine reviewers have targeted queues of products, and may have five products for review at a time. If a Vine reviewer has five products waiting for review, no more products will be offered until one of the reviews is completed; most Vine voices always have items on offer.

Unlike Amazon, Walmart has made its reviewer program transparent, using it to encourage reviews from consumers.

Walmart shoppers look for honest opinions from fellow customers when making a purchase decision — that’s where our members come in. Spark Reviewer is an invitation-only sampling program to get our newest and best products in the hands of our top customers in exchange for totally honest reviews.

Here’s how the program works:

  • Register as a member and sign up to receive sampling campaign email alerts
  • Upon receiving an alert, log on to this portal during the sample selection window
  • Select the allocated number of samples for that campaign
  • Receive the samples at your home
  • Test the products in the specified timeframe
  • Return to this portal to leave your honest rating & review on the item
  • Keep the sample in exchange for your review!
Why does this program exist?
We value honest feedback about products, and so do our customers. The Spark Reviewer Programallows our most trusted reviewers to provide honest and unbiased feedback on new or un-reviewed/low reviewed products on Walmart.com.
How do I become a member?
Membership is granted to Spark Reviewers on an invitation-only basis. We are seeking customers who enjoy sharing their opinions and sentiments about the products they use. Spark Reviewers are selected based on several criteria, such as the quantity and quality of reviews already written, helpfulness votes, and membership availability.
As a member, do I have to write reviews to stay in the Spark Reviewer program?
Yes, but that’s really all we ask. Authentic reviews are critical in helping fellow shoppers make informed buying decisions, and we expect this program to generate many more helpful reviews. Once members are invited into the program, Spark Reviewers are asked to review their selected samples in an allotted timeframe to maintain their status as a Spark Reviewer.
Are members expected to write only positive reviews?
No. We expect our members to write unbiased, honest and authentic reviews. All Spark Reviewer reviews will be posted on the product’s detail page completely unedited, regardless of whether or not it is a favorable review, provided they follow The Walmart General Review Writing Guidelines and adhere to the Spark Reviewer requirements.
Do Spark Reviewers members get paid for writing reviews?
No. Members are not paid to participate in the program, nor are they paid to write reviews — positive or negative. There is no pressure or expectation to write positive reviews, and negative reviews do not affect membership in the program.
Are reviews collected through the Spark Reviewer program labeled differently?
Yes. To ensure authenticity, any reviews gathered through this program are labeled with a Spark Reviewer badge when they are displayed on Walmart.com.

Preparing for Market

Other than the actual quality of the product, many other factors can determine market success. You can also add perceived value by packaging your product differently, or bundling a service and presenting it in a glossy brochure . How the product is packaged can have a big effect on who buys the product, and how it is perceived after purchase. Product packaging is the box that the product is enclosed in.

Depending on where the product will be sold, packaging importance can vary greatly. If the  invention is sitting on a shelf among many competing products, a cool or professional appearance could be needed to gain attention. On the other hand, if most sales are made on the Internet, the box the product comes in doesn’t matter as much. The customer has already been sold on buying the merchandise and doesn’t need to be persuaded any further. The web site is the key marketing tool and “packaging” that sells online products.

It is important to consider whom the target market is, who is buying the product off the shelves or from the web site? If the product is marketed to teenagers, the packaging might have explosive colors and designs to make it “cool” to buy. The same goes for the web site; it must appeal to teenagers so they will want to buy the product. If the target market is older people ages 60 to 90, maybe the web isn’t a great packing tool and the product packaging should be plain with big writing.

Product packaging is an important element to consider before going to market. It can alter the way a product is perceived by customers.

Determine your market

Nothing spells disaster like the lack of not having your target market identified. Market research does more than confirm your “gut feeling” to many new entrepreneurs rely to much on their gut feelings. Just because ” you think” your product is the best thing since the light bulb, does not mean anyone else will have the same feelings.

Take for example a man I knew a few years ago. He was an investor, you would think he would know all about launching new products. After all he had made millions of dollars investing in inventors and startup companies. One day he had an idea for a new educational game. He applied for a patent and produced a prototype. Instead of doing his homework…he sent overseas to have his game manufactured. A few months later he received his bright shiny new games all packaged up and ready to hit the store shelves of retailers like WALMART. He called a few buyers and asked to make appointments. Walmart was one of the first that hit him with the bomb shell of ‘not knowing’ his target market. You can’t just walk in the doors to present new products to buyers and not know these things. This is were you have to know what your talking about and get that message over in a hurry. They (buyers) don’t have time to sit down with you and figure out your game plan. Sad to say, he failed. Before he finally gave up on his idea he had spent thousands of dollars. His number one problem was not doing proper research and another was thinking “his way” is always right!

Timing

Are all the elements of the process coordinated? Is production on the same time schedule as the promotion? Will your product be ready when you announce it? Set a time frame for the roll out and stick with it. Miss it, and invite failure. There are marketing tales a mile long about companies who announce a new product only having to re announce when the product lags behind in manufacturing. The result is loss of credibility, loss of sales, and another failure.

Cindy Jones Case Study On How She Sold Antenna Buddies To Walmart

Got an idea for a cool promotional product? Read how this entrepreneur turned her simple idea into a successful business.
Entrepreneur’s Start-Ups magazine – September 2000 
By Don Debelak

URL: http://www.Entrepreneur.com/article/0,4621,278341,00.html 

Inspiration can strike at the oddest times. For 35-year-old Cindy Jones of Oklahoma City, it happened on Halloween back in 1996, when her husband came home with a Mr. Potato Head on his car antenna. Jones thought it was cute, so she took the idea one step further: She cut up a plastic pumpkin, put it over her antenna, played with the wiring, and voila, she had a lighted pumpkin on her car. “People were coming up to me, wanting to know where I bought it,” Jones recalls.

Since then, Jones has had her product, dubbed Antenna Buddies—currently available as an eight ball, a pair of dice, a banana man and a happy face—featured for two years on MTV’s Road Rules, has signed a licensing agreement with a major neon light manufacturer, and has received orders from the J.C. Whitney catalog and auto electronic stores. What’s propelled her success? For starters, Jones worked through a manufacturer to introduce her product since she lacked the funds to introduce it herself. More important, though, she’s got the perfect promotional product—one that’s proved capable of landing accounts with major companies.

Jones wasn’t in a position to spend a lot of money on a product that wouldn’t sell. So she created 15 Antenna Buddies at home and put the product up for sale at David’s Electronics, a car stereo store in Oklahoma City. When the 15 units sold out in less than two weeks, Jones got an investor and applied for a patent. Problem was, Jones had no manufacturer. “I didn’t have any idea how I was going to make the product,” she admits. And even though major retailer Radio Shack helped out by providing her with three solid leads to manufacturers of novelty automotive lighting products, she wanted to be sure to get the best deal.

Gaining Publicity

Jones’ next move proved ingenious. Rather than try to raise money and manufacture her product all on her own, she decided to try to land a major publicity story to verify Antenna Buddies’ potential in a lucrative market. That’s where MTV came in and helped out.

Oh, it was by no means a simple task to get her product on MTV’s Road Rules show—think major hemming and hawing and a lukewarm reception to the first samples she presented to them when she flew out to the West Coast to show them her product. With persistence, though, she discovered what they wanted: something Southwestern. Enter a cow skull that finally made it onto the grill of the Road Rules trailer, which, by the way, gets quite a bit of airtime. “Rather than walk away,” says Jones, “I just kept asking what they wanted to see.”

What was probably most important for Jones was that her target customers, teens and young adults, also constitute the bulk of MTV’s audience, a fact that was certainly not lost on the manufacturers she later approached for help with her wholesale product.

Jones pursued all three manufacturers suggested by Radio Shack-and all three made offers. The winner was It’s Real Stuff in New York City. Jones’ main concern was that “the manufacturer just wouldn’t work hard enough for the product to really succeed.” So she insisted in her contract that she would receive a commission on any promotional product sales. Now Jones, who is closing in on a deal with Disney, gets royalties on all product sales and a commission on the sales she completes. Best of all, she doesn’t have to worry about manufacturing, billing, collecting, financing and all those other pesky tasks.

The potential for a major promotional product sale proved to be the key in attracting manufacturers, Jones learned. The risk to the manufacturer is greatly minimized, and all parties involved stand to benefit. Promotional products need to be able to display a company’s name in a dramatically visual way. Remember to check out the promotional product potential on any product—it may be the jumpstart you need for your product.

The Antenna Buddies had a red-hot launch, but Cindy Jones will soon face competitors. Protecting her patent could cost a lot. One option she can pursue is patent insurance, which can help mitigate the cost for patent infringement suits:

Advertising specialties is another term used for promotional products, and it generally refers to products that businesses buy to give away or to sell at a low price. For instance, Wal-Mart, which uses the yellow happy face in its advertising campaigns, might decide to buy the happy face Antenna Buddy to sell to its customers. Or MTV might offer the cow skull to its viewers.

Promotional items are typically sold through advertising specialty companies that will put a company’s name on a product for promotional purposes. Advertising specialty houses sell water bottles, golf balls, Frisbees and virtually any other imprintable item.

In Cindy Jones’ case, the Antenna Buddies promotional product possibilities were a point of leverage when approaching manufacturers for a licensing agreement. Jones’ product is an outstanding promotional item because it goes where everyone can see it: on the base of a car antenna. That makes it a great tool for any company to advertise its product or service.

Learning How To Sell To Walmart

It is the dream of many aspiring entrepreneurs to successfully sell their products to the world’s largest retailer.

One order from Walmart can lead towards millions of dollars of sales, as well as provide validation to other store buyers to start stocking up on those products.

Although the motivation to sell to the retailer is valid, and perhaps even more realistic than people might think, after all the retailer does need a constant supply of new products, it can still be a very challenging and daunting process.

Keep in mind that Walmart needs products for a few reasons that might not seem obvious at first.

Besides its need to simply have products to sell to its customers, it also needs new merchandise to distinguish itself from Amazon, and give shoppers a reason to visit its discount stores instead of simply pressing a button on their smartphones and ordering to their delight.

So if you do want to offer your merchandise to the retail category behemoth, you need to be fully prepared for the extensive process.

Start learning how to successfully sell products to Walmart by reading these books: