Silicon Valley Delegation PART 2 - Retail and Brand Awareness for Hardware Startups

Silicon Valley Delegation PART 2 - Retail and Brand Awareness for Hardware Startups

Greg Appelhof, Founder of SPRING, is a retail accelerator with an unparalleled resume of experience in launching and growing brands and product lines in a wide variety of retail channels. Here, he gives advice to any hardware startup looking to get their product to market.

What is The Best Path to Market?

The product path to market has never been faster, as a result of more capital available to invest, as well as other funding and marketing sources such as crowdfunding.

When building a product, focus on an opportunity for growth. Fast market penetration is often due to: 

  • Products providing both information and entertainment.
  • Strong adaption of the “connected self.”
  • Innovation that is driving personalization.
  • Sustainable growth through long-tail road maps. 

The Retail Super Highway

Major retailers are still dominate in today's market. In fact, for every $100 spent, $91 is taking place in a physical retail store. The biggest ones continue to display a significant presence with physical space:

Walmart - 5,000+ stores
Target - 1,800 stores
Best Buy - 1,000 stores 
Apple - 500+ stores

Top categories for hardware growth include consumer electronics, smart home, wearables, and IoT.

Big Brands are Expanding

Big brands, such as Amazon and Google are now investing in retail and paying for physical space in stores. While these companies aren't traditionally found in stores, they are now paying $1M per store for that space. 

Competing with these giants is difficult. Your product needs to be really great, non-competitive with their products, or you need really deep pockets. Often, smaller companies will be acquired. 

How Can You Win at Retail?

  • Align with retailer’s vision. Your first customer is the retailer. You must prove to them that you have a product that will sell.
  • Product differentiation. How does your product stand out among competitors?
  • Vendor onboarding. Are you ready to efficiently product your product and conduct business?
  • Merge with existing assortment. Does it make sense to package your product with another?
  • Build a retail “statement”. A brand-positioning statement helps maintain a consistent flow of information about your product.
  • Brand/production road map. Know where you're going and how you are getting there.
  • Marketing support. A strong team and resources help sell your product.
  • Customer acquisition for the retailer. You are responsible for selling your product, not the retailer. 

 Path to Retail

  • Channel - you need to identify which retailer is the best one to start with.
  • Retail Operations - Often an area in which many people fail. Understand the retailer's expectations for the timeline of getting your product to their shelves.
  • Retail Finance - Make sure you have enough money to cover any bumps in the road.
  • Marketing - Understand your target audience, including the retailer.
  • Capital - Do you have the money, assets, and resources?

The impact of an online giant

Amazon is important. Don’t discount their impact, but don’t rush to sell with an untested product. GREAT REVIEWS ARE CRITICAL.

At the end of the day, any successful product needs to stand out. Be innovative!

Check out photos from our event here!

About The Speaker

Greg Appelhof

Greg Appelhof

Founder, Spring

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