Sink or Sell Episode 4 - These Aren’t TV Channels: What is a Go-To Market Retail Channel Strategy?

8th April 2017

Pete Janssen from Sightline Group shares with listeners his expertise gained over more than 35 years of experience in retail and technology. From product positioning, to market validation and beyond, he knows how to drive results in business and sales, with a large focus on strategy and channel development.

According to Pete, discovering the best retail channels for your product is all about the customers. Many entrepreneurs don’t really know who their target customers are, or generally think of them in too broad of a group. Who are the people who really “have to have” your product and where do they shop? But just putting that product in the store these people shop at isn’t enough. High-touch channels of distribution can tell a story, through demonstrations and getting the word out. 

Pete was one of the people to help create a market retail channel strategy for the fitness giant most of know, Fitbit. When the device first came out, Fitbit was being launched in Brookstone, with a freestanding video display and trained salespeople who had a first line of knowledge regarding the product, and who could give consumers the majority of the information they needed. As we now know, this was far more effective than merely throwing a product with some pretty packaging on a store shelf and hoping for the best.

Sightline Group gets involved with startups in the earliest stages of development, so that they can participate in everything from package design to operational infrastructure. The startups they work with range in amount of capital available, but all are encouraged to leverage existing channels of distribution. While it may cost more money at first, in comparison to, for example, selling your product on your own website, it generally pays off greatly in the long run. Even online, consumers would rather buy from Amazon or Best Buy than the actual creator.

To sum up his advice, Pete offers a few key points about the top mistakes startups make. He says to (1) always have appropriate financing lined up to avoid undercapitalizing, (2) discover the true viability of a product and the target audience, (3) be patient, as it’s rare for startups to actually stick to their projected schedule, (4) secure a quality contractual manufacturer and then understand the true cost of manufacturing and (5) build a team of competent third-party logistics people who can help make your brand successful.

For more info and advice, startups and passionate entrepreneurs are invited to visit the Sightline Group website, at

Learn more tips like this at HardwareCon 2018, the Bay Area’s Premier Hardware Innovation conference on April 19th-20th.  Experience two full days of keynotes, panels and workshops focused on the most important topics around building a successful hardware company. Get your tickets here now if you want to meet the hottest startups, investors and industry leaders across the global hardware ecosystem.

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