Get Retail Ready: Quality assurance requirements

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As more food startups gain momentum and look for ways to get a placement in retailer shelves, competition gets tougher. It is not always the easiest to get a retailer to stock a product – they go through lengthy processes before onboarding a new item.

Which factors do retailers take into consideration before choosing a product? How can the startups improve their chances for getting selected? We approached the approvers, selectors and distributors of the retail industry to find out exactly, how to be prepared, and how to catch retailer interest.

In the first edition of Get Retail Ready series we interview Charlotte Rosendahl, Director of Quality Assurance at METRO Germany.

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As a first step, quality assurance looks for the following product information:

  • A clear description of the product and specific requirements on how it should be stored
  • A clear description of the HACCP-concept, preferably an external certification following the GFSI (global food safety initiative) requirements
  • Certifications that support product claims: organic, fair trade, bio etc. Some of these certifications will vary depending on the country
  • Proof of marketability and legal compliance with labelling. This can be done via a focus group study, and/or survey, and/or certification from relevant certifiers. The study might research whether the group liked the product, found the pricing fair, would choose the product over other options etc.

These four different processes will get your product on a fast track to selection.

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Creating a sustainable relationship with a retailer might help a business be successful in the long run.

Here is what you need to remember when working with retailers:

  1. Give as much information about the product as possible, be proactive, reassure the retailer.
  2. Understand the retailer and their position: usually they are apprehensive about taking on a new unknown product due to the risk of poor quality which could lead to customers getting sick and damaged reputation. Eliminate these concerns by providing a good amount of documents and certifications.
  3. Food safety and legal requirements. This is the livelihood of any product.
  4. Ask who the end consumers are: retailers see that there is demand for your product, or your product has potential with their customers, you will have more chances for success.

Last but not least: learn as much as possible about the market you are trying to enter, understand the customer base of the retailer you want to work with, verify whether the product meets the needs of the target audience or re-define the concept together with the retailer.

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