Picture2Winning in retail involves a lot of hard work, time, effort and investment. Competition for retail shelf and floor space is intense, and if your sales are not hitting retailers expectations, its likely you will begin to lose shelf space and experience delistings.

Running a successful, well planned and well executed In-Store Sampling Campaign is a proven way to dramatically increase wholesale volume per store over the long term. Combined with good retail merchandising, this is a winning combination.

The key ingredient for a successful In-Store Sampling Campaign is to get reliable and well trained staff. Having great motivated people on your team is the most critical aspect of success.

Sonas Top 10 tips for better results with your In-Store Sampling investment:

  1. Get the best Brand  Ambassadors available. Planning any campaign starts with what is required to attract quality Brand Ambassadors to run with your program.Good Brand Ambassadors are in high demand and avoid single or one-off events.
  2. Schedule 6 to 8 weeks out. The better Brand Ambassadors have their calendars booked 4 to 8 weeks in advance.
  3. Pay well. Great Brand Ambassadors are hard to find, always in high demand and get paid well by the brands that want the cream of the crop.
  4. Focused Regions for Sustainable Sales growth. Concentrate any budget into a small number of region's for a minimum 3 months or preferably a 6-12 month campaign.
  5. Give Brand Ambassadors Enough Work to Keep Them Committed. Create a program that can give any Brand Ambassador 10 to 15 events per month, within a 45 minute radius.
  6. Avoid single or One-Off programs. They generally are a sunk cost and don't generate any noticeable long term impact on sales. They are sometimes needed to deliver on commitments made to retail buyers.
    Longer term campaigns, 3 or 6-12 months are the proven way to make a real impact on store level sales volume. 6, 12 and 24 month campaigns can double or triple sales volume when executed well. These longer term campaigns also build a strong, meaningful relationship with store level retail management to further support your brand.
  7. Don't hire unknown staff on the internet. These are generally the staff that agencies like Sonas have blacklisted and don't use.
  8. Have a comprehensive event reporting system.  Having an event reporting system that confirms the Brand Ambassador is at the correct location at the right time is essential. Collecting event data and pictures that are accessible is an easy to read, standard format helps event reviews and data analytics.
  9. Educate your Brand Ambassadors. Sonas uses a 4 step learning system which includes weekly mentoring and our online training and testing portal: The Sonas University.
  10. Enhance the Experience. Add in coupons or swag to create a more enjoyable and engaging event.

5 great reasons to use In-Store Sampling & Demos:

1. Sell in Support Service. Offering a strong sampling program to a retailer can help get your product or line into a trial. Retailers look for and appreciate the commitment from vendors to help give any new line a strong start.

Boosting initial sales performance with a strong in-store sampling campaign will set your products up for a favorable review by the retail buyers and can greatly increase the trial outcome and lead to store front expansion into additional stores. 

Our suggested "Sell In" campaign would be 2 samplings per store per month for an initial 2 months and 1 sampling per store per month thereafter. Having a well stocked distributor and ensuring no inventory gaps is critical. Ask us about adding in our Retail Merchandising Service to help mitigate against out of stocks and the negative impact that can have on sales volume.

2. Store Front Expansion. Retailers measure sales per shelf inch / floor space and will expand SKU's and number of stores for better performing brands. If your initial or ongoing sales are low, its likely you are facing a delisting in some or all stores. If alternatively your sales are higher than expected, then getting additional shelf space and store fronts has just become easier. 

We often see our most successful clients get started in approximately 30 stores, embrace a strong initial sell in sampling campaign, gain an additional 30 to 100 store fronts upon which they repeat the process. Taking a targeted approach and planning on a retailer by retailer basis is highly recommended. This is the best ROI for the cost and investment in a sampling campaign.

3. Long Term Store Level Sales Growth. Once you are firmly established in a group of stores, a consistent long term approach to In-Store sampling delivers our clients the best results. Our client feedback is that samplings on a monthly basis can deliver steady 6% to 8% sales growth per store. That level of monthly growth will increase store level sales by 50% in just 6 months and double sales after 10 months.

When done right, running both a strong Sell In Campaign and an ongoing regular Monthly Sampling Campaign can dramatically transform sales and deliver strong store level profitability.

4. Targeted Shelf Space Maintenance. Are you in danger of being delisted in some weaker stores ? If so, it can be the start of a delisting cycle that can lead to chain wide delisting.

Targeting these under performing stores with In-Store samplings and some price promotion or coupon's is a great way to help boost sales, maintain shelf space and avoid delistings starting. Under performing in some stores, can lead to a negative review by buyers with a risk of a chain wide delisting coming next.

5. Excess Inventory & Supply Chain Bottlenecks. If after an initial sell in or a promotion period, sales have been poor and some stores have excess inventory, using in-store samplings with a price promotion is a great way to move excess inventory out the front door, rather than having inventory returned to you or your distributor by the back door. Having a plan to avoid large credit notes and/or inventory write downs is an important part of succeeding in retail.


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