Everything I Know About Retail

Hey squad happy Monday. I just got back from Utah after a full week of action-packed activities.

Not sure about you guys but this January-March is always my favorite time of the year. You’re focused as hell, get to lock in on your “resolutions”, I feel like I start to eat healthier and become more intentional with everything. But best of all I get to go snowboarding. This year we’re going for 30 days on the mountain and if you’re in Whistler or Denver let me know because I’ll be there soon.

The Founders Club hosted 5 events in the past few days and I’m so excited to start hosting them in all major cities. If you want to join the waitlist for your city let me know, maybe we can build it out together!

  1. Wednesday - VIP Box at the Jazz vs Nuggets game

  2. Thursday - Ice hiking up a mountain, cold plunging in a lake, wood burning saunas waiting at the top

  3. Friday - 2024 Planning & Growth Seminar (Invite Only) & VIP Box at Jazz vs Raptors game

  4. Saturday & Sunday - Group Snowboarding at Park City

Wild photo from our 90 minute ice hike.

Breaking into Big Box

The last newsletter I sent got a ton of feedback and love and I could not be more appreciative. To be honest, guys writing this sometimes comes easy and sometimes it’s really damn challenging to come up with good things to say. I happen to be good at writing and I think that’s how I tricked Lyndsey into going on our first date, so something seems to be working. But not all the time is it easy. I’d love some suggestions on what you want to learn more about. Is it retail? Is it fundraising? Is it building with partners? Hiring? 

The other day, I hosted a 40 person session on breaking into retail and the dos & donts. I must of received 50+ emails back saying that they couldn’t make it but wanted to learn more so that’s where I’m taking this newsletter today. Nearly 40% of CROSSNET’s revenue will retail this year thanks to large contributions from our amazing partners at Dicks, Scheels, Academy and many, many more.

Stamped - We Saved $$$

Before I break out 10 years of sales advice, I wanted to give a massive shout out to Stamped, CROSSNET’s new review and loyalty program. I learned about them a few months back and we finally got them up on the site and I’m so damn excited.

If you’re like us, we’ve struggled with getting reviews from our customers. We have tens of thousands of orders every year. Why so little reviews? Reviews from real people mean more than ever. I’m moving into a new house this week and 100% of my wife’s financial buying decisions are based on stranger’s feedback on the internet. It’s actually crazy.

The next time you see this we better be at 2000 reviews!

Reviews are the most overlooked part of your business and one of the easiest unlocks you can make this month. When we were reviewing our software spend this year we found out we were paying way more for some of the big names in the tech space and Stamped’s going to help us collect way more reviews for a fraction of the price. Also, it doesn’t hurt that 75,000 Shopify merchants trust them, so I know we’re in good company.

Your customers sell better than you do. With Stamped’s reviews & loyalty features they plan on helping us increase AOV, LTV and conversion rate, all while saving us money on our software fees and acquisition costs.

Do me a favor. Check out how much you're paying for reviews right now and I can almost guarantee Stamped will beat it.

Get Stamped here or email my rep Kelsey ([email protected]) personally and she’ll roll out the red carpet with the friends and family pricing.

Let’s Get you into Retail!

How Do I Outreach?

Cracking retail is like a job interview. You need to be prepared, you need to dress the part, and you need to say the right things. I’d first start by cleaning up all your social media and professionalizing your LinkedIn as this is the easiest way to connect with buyers. Adding a buyer from Dicks Sporting Goods on Facebook or Instagram would be hella weird, but on LinkedIn completely fair game. The sooner you can add all of the buyers, marketers, and assistants at the company on your LinkedIn the better. 

What’s Your LinkedIn Strategy?

I am very bullish on posting 2-4 times a day on LinkedIn. Don’t over think it. Just fire. Not everything is going to be a homerun. Guess what? If it’s not a homer, then a lot people didn’t see it anyways so keep it moving. The goal is to create relatable content that continues to grow organically daily and hopefully land on a few “viral ones” along the way. You want to talk about the brand, your journey, and your wins. You want to show off the product and get it on the timeline that way the buyer has seen it BEFORE you cold outreach. 

If you’re a new brand I wouldn’t suggest private messaging buyers right away, especially if they’ve never heard of you. Of course you can try a few, but you only have so many bullets. Be patient, you’re building a long term retail strategy not flipping an NFT to the next idiot. 

If you’re at the stage of say a CROSSNET or Dude Wipes where you have a bit more brand equity I’d add the buyer and hit them with a quick connection message saying “Hey there, we’d love to work with you guys. Have sold over $30M worth of our 4-way volleyball game in the past few years and know it’d crush in your store.” Short, simple, to the point. 

Do I Cold Call?

Just don’t. Sure for every 10000000 calls you make, maybe you land one good one. I remember I used to cold call hookah lounges and smoke shops around the country and it was a brutal game. Instead, I’d become friends with a few friends (not me hahah) who are selling into retail stores you want and offer to trade contacts & intros. This has worked really well for me and my friends. 

Do I Use a Broker?

I always tell people to EXHAUST your efforts first before you pass of the business to a broker. I will always remember I kinda strung this amazing broker named Neal Fink (here’s his email he’s great - [email protected]) because I didn’t know what the hell I wanted. I didn’t wanna pay his 5-10% commission, but I also wanted to get my product into the store so badly. Eventually, I pulled the chord before we landed a deal with him, ended on good terms and years later hes now helping me get my product into other stores. I always suggest trying yourself, but sometimes you’re just not naturally a good sales person and that’s completely fine. Like for a club store, that was an impossible challenge, so I’m happy to cut back the sales group their 3% cut. 

You can find these people by simply googling or LinkedIn searching - Walmart Broker, Sporting Goods Broker, etc. 

How Long Does it Take? 

Good things take time. Smaller stores can be really fast. Legit a few PDFS that need to get signed, ship your stuff in and you’re good to go. The larger ones can take a year of planning and pitching. Right now I’m currently pitching one of the worlds largest stores for 2025, and about to start talking Winter 2024 with some accounts shortly.

Payment Terms?

The quickest way to get tripped up as a new company is by signing a deal with terrible payment terms out the gate. Stay clear of Net 120 and Net 90. It was a blessing in disguise that we fell into Net-30  before we even knew what is way. Net-30 means that the vendor pays you 30 days after they receive the goods. For optimum cash conversion cycle I’d pay my manufacture 60 days after I receive the goods at my warehouse. That means I get the inventory, ship it to the customer, invoice them, and get paid ALL BEFORE China is owed their money. Pretty much like I’m pre-ordering or dropshipping at scale. 

Accounts to go After?

Every industry has its specialty stores. If you can’t figure out the big accounts in your industry you got bigger issues. My advice always is to try to start with a 5-20 store location. You won’t learn much from a 1 store location and business really starts to get more buttoned up and series on the 5-20 store locations. 

How Much Paperwork is Required? 

If you get slammed with retail inquiries the paperwork is going to be a headache. It sucks. It’s a lot of number crunching and could take hours. However its a one time thing and you’ll be very happy its done. 

How to Build out a Retail Guide? 

Retail guides should be short, sweet and to the point in my opinion. Maybe a quick blurb on the brand and then the following:

  • Product image

  • Product description

  • MSRP - Suggested retail pricing

  • MAP - Minimum pricing

  • Wholesale price

  • Minimum oder quantity if any

  • Product dimensions & weight

Send me an email and I’ll send you my retail guide - [email protected]

Things I Need to Watch Out For?

The quickest way you can turn a $50,000 order into a $20,000 loss is by not knowing how to ship orders properly. This starts with you or your operations team READING the entire 100+ page manual they are going to send you. It sucks, my mind typically shuts down, but if you don’t ship the order EXACTLY how they want you to you are going to get a chargeback. This means the right bubble wrap, pallet size, stickers in the right place, routing compliantly, etc. Each store typically has a team that legit directs this and does ANYTHING and everything to charge you back and make the store money. They pay these people $70-100k a year to knit pick and if they can whack you with a $25k chargeback on one order think about how quickly the company is making back their money on that salary…. Must be nice 

Read the manual. Get a partime or full time ops person and MOST IMPORTANTLY if the ops person is not in your warehouse you NEED to be working with a 3PL that is compliant and knows how to ship wholesale. After a nightmare 2023, I have found what I think is the BEST 3PL in THE USA for wholesale. They helped grow Aviator Nation and now are doing the lords work for CROSSNET. They are called Rack’d and are super affordable and great to work with. Email Reed and let him know I sent you - [email protected]

How Many Hours a Week Does Account Management Take?

After account setup the real heavy lifting is done. I’m personally meeting with the stores 1-2 per year and then firing off maybe 30-60 mins of emails each week. If I was in the food space and was constantly cycling in new inventory I’d expect this to be very different. 

How Do I Drive Store Foot Traffic?

This is a much larger conversation than one paragraph and actually what I’ve started to do 1vs1 consulting for. A few of my favorite ways are geo-targeting a 10-20 mile radius around your store locations and running FB/IG ads to them. Email & social media marketing and awareness plays. Taking out a billboard near the store (much cheaper than you’d think in rural cities), and even radio/podcast ads. Most importantly tho work with the store’s directly. Ask them what opportunities do they have to purchase endcaps, in-store posts, signs, aisle markers, etc. Invest the money into the store, I promise the buyers will appreciate it and if they see an increase in traffic from the promotion they will keep making the orders larger and larger. 

Moving Day Tomorrow

Well this might be the longest newsletter I’ve ever written. I hope you found it packed with value. I’m moving into a new house tomorrow and will be busy unpacking like crazy! Apologies for any delayed responses back on the email, but promise I’ll read every one of them.

If you could do me ONE FAVOR - I don’t ask for much here - Please send this to 1-3 friends you think would enjoy it. Tell them to subscribe here. This newsletter is growing into a full on business that’s supporting me and my family and I simply giving the value to you guys. I’ll never forget being the up-and-comer who was so desperate for the 5 minutes to pick anybody’s brain. 

Thanks again for reading and making me come back to the keyboard each week. Check out Stamped, I promise they will save you a ton of $.

See you soon,