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    9 Replies Latest reply on Dec 7, 2009 10:50 AM by MooRiver

    Help with the Distribution of my product... Got Ideas?

    nbkmuln Newbie
      I am in the process of developing a super premium brand of ice cream to compete with the likes of Ben & Jerry's Breyers All Natural Haggen Daze and the like...

      I have completed the business plan. My financials look good. I have had numerous trips to the SBDC and Score, and as of recently an accountant to take a look at everything. I hear that my concept and service model is very solid. The market is properly defined and ultimately, if the product recieves the proper marketing I should be sucessful. VERY ENCOURAGING STUFF...

      I am entering a business plan competition and my submission is due by early October...

      MY PROBLEM....

      I cannot for the life of me figure out the distributing peice of the puzzle. I will only be selling pints of ice cream which makes it easy. I have 12 flavors that I have developed but only 5 that I will release initially. I have also determined which stores would be the best fit for my product and in store promotional techniques etc. What I cannot find out however is how to get them the product.

      In speaking with my manufacturer he says that I could work out a deal with the chain that my product will be in where they purchase the product and I ship it directly to their distributing location. This is an optimal solution however I am not sure that this will be the case with all of the chains I am looking to target.

      Also how do the grocery chains and stores work? From the countless phone interviews and conversations that I have had with people inside and outside of the industry I am still a little hazy on their operation.

      I have heard the following: They operate like a real estate company. You purchase shelf space and you move your own product....

      I have also heard that if your product is good and they like it, they will buy it directly from you and resell it with their own markup...

      P.S. While I appreciate the general post like go to SCORE and the SBDC and try this or that... I would really appreciate all the more an answer that will point me in the right direction. Please take this into consideration before you respond!


        • Re: Help with the Distribution of my product... Got Ideas?
          ICECREAMMAN2 Wayfarer

          Hi: Excited Ice Cream Man:

          I started selling Novelty Ice Cream back in 1988, up here in Canada.

          I'm new to this board, and not sure if you can, PM, me or not.

          E-mail me at:




          If you want some Ideas.


          BUY BUY 4 NOW




          • Re: Help with the Distribution of my product... Got Ideas?
            Tianna Wayfarer
            Hi there!

            First of all I wish you good luck in your business and more creative ideas.

            Concerning your question... What about creating a website? Internet provides huge possibiliteis for all kinds of businesses. And I'm sure if you create a website, it will definitelly help you to find clients, distributors and etc.
            If you want to create a website as fast as possible without spending much means, take an opportunity of turnkey websites or website builder from site2you (

            Best Regards,
            • Re: Help with the Distribution of my product... Got Ideas?
              businessSIR Adventurer
              I have worked on deals where you as the supplier purchase shelf space like you were talking about with a store. You can hire someone to be your merchandiser and go to the store and arrange your products on the shelf for you and have them do this at multiple locations. The store will have your products shipped to their DC and then shipped to the store. Your merchandiser will do all the arranging of your merchandise themselves and you can come up with plan-o-grams and displays yourself.

              Alot of time stores would prefer this because it frees up their employees for other tasks. Now i have known some merchandisers who when it is part of their job, can pick up the merchandise directly from you and bring it to stores also. But this can add to the pay of the merchandiser which can actually save you money.

              If you have any questions you can email me at

              good luck
              • Re: Help with the Distribution of my product... Got Ideas?
                MoveForward Scout
                Sysco :
                This is a national distributor, including resturants, grocery, etc.

                They do the same as Sysco

                And I have to give a shout-out for a flavor suggestions...
                "Elvis Peanut Butter and Bannana"
                • Re: Help with the Distribution of my product... Got Ideas?

                  Congratulations on your new product.

                  There are many different ways to promote and move your product. One that I would start with would be a local distributor. You would sell the product directly to them and they will do the leg work on getting the product into the stores. I don't know if I would tie a product up with just one grocery chain. You then have all of your eggs in their basket and only within their chain.

                  If you work with a local milk or dairy distributor, they will work with all of the small mom and pops up to the large chain stores. They don't typically buy space. They gain the space by working directly with each buyer at the store level. The stores will usually compare prices against the other brands and may ask for some samples to take home and try for themselves. If they like the product, it will usually make it on the store shelf.

                  I own and operate a grocery store and this is done on a regular basis. My vendors constantly bring me new products to try. Some are great and others don't make it off the truck.

                  I know it is short but hope it will help. Feel free to contact me if you should have any other questions.

                  • Re: Help with the Distribution of my product... Got Ideas?
                    gessoandgold Newbie
                    I've heard bad things about the big stores, stocking your product if it's successful (and robbing you on margins) for just as long as it takes to nick your idea and get their own brand in, talking you into special deals and then dropping the item when you can't afford to fund it any more. Watch your back.
                    • Re: Help with the Distribution of my product... Got Ideas?
                      designsmith Newbie
                      i would not even consider selling through any retail outlets and chain stores.
                      i have only heard horror stories.
                      and you would be trapped within their system, their syppliers, their, their.
                      i would add 30% to my price and do a retail shop of my own.
                      you could make it exclusive, or you could go the wholesale route, but i would have controll...
                      and to me that is everything.
                      you could then rollout shops or franchises at will depending on your capital.
                      just this morning i was reading about Nandos a chicken food outlet that started up in my backyard a few years ago and now they are growing like a virus.

                      good luck with it all.
                      Rob Anderson
                      • Re: Help with the Distribution of my product... Got Ideas?
                        arefin Newbie

                        The following are opinions to often asked ice cream vending questions:

                        Should I lease or buy an ice cream truck?
                        If you want to get started in the ice cream street vending business I suggest you first try to lease a truck before you buy. After an ice cream selling season with a leased truck you can then determine if you want to buy your own truck.

                        How do you find a place that leases ice cream trucks?
                        If you are unable to find a place that leases ice cream trucks you can try asking ice cream distributors in your area if they know who leases ice cream trucks. After a few phone calls someone should point you in the right direction. To find an ice cream distributor you can use any of the yellow pages sites like SuperPages, or Yahoo Yellow Pages.

                        What are the laws for ice cream trucks in my town?
                        As far as local laws and vendor permits, go right to the town hall and ask. It can definitely vary from town to town. Since the laws can be different do not take someone else's word for it unless they have sold in the same locations that you want to sell.

                        Should I get a soft-serve truck or just sell novelties?
                        Selling ice cream on the street is a unique business. The competive edge you have is that you are going to the customer and making it very convenient for them to buy an ice cream. Once someone actually walks up to the truck most likely they have determined they are going to buy something. I therefore suggest you start off simple and selling novelties is an easier way to start.

                        Where do I sell?
                        The best way to be successful is try to become a part of the community where you are selling. Find out about baseball, softball or soccer game times. Show interest in the games. If a team knows you are a fan of them and support them then they may support you. When you are selling talk to your customers. Find out what other activities they do. Having car dealerships and industrial areas as regular stops is good since even on cloudy days you can still get business from them. The more you drive around a neighborhood the more you learn.

                        Do ice cream trucks make good money?
                        Ice cream street vending is similiar to other sales jobs in the way that the more time and effort you put into it, the greater potential. Just like running any business you should do the math. Determine all your costs and expenses. Then you can decide how much you need to sell to be happy with your income. Establish daily routes, find community areas to sell, be aware of any local events and be friendly to customers are some keys to success.


                        Band Merchandise
                        • Re: Help with the Distribution of my product... Got Ideas?
                          MooRiver Newbie
                          Good morning Nbkmulin, Reading your post is kinda interesting, cause it sounds exactly what my goals and asperations are as well, we should chat and bounce some ideas around if you'd like email me Peter