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Taking Your Small Bakery To The Next Level By Partnering With Your Regional Grocery Chain

By Business of Baking Blog posted 05-09-2024 07:00:00 AM


Are you a small bakery owner looking for ways to expand your business? Have you considered selling your products in regional grocery stores? Imagine walking into your local store and seeing your cakes, pies or other treats sitting on the shelves beside other national brand foods. Wouldn't that be amazing?!

In this post, we'll discuss the benefits of selling products in local grocery stores, and we'll also touch on challenges that you should be aware of when starting down the path to grocery sales. The hope is that this article will serve as a resource as you begin your research in to partnering with local area grocers. Keep in mind that this road may not be easy, but it comes with a ton of potential to elevate your sales and brand recognition to new heights.

How Can Expanding Your Small Bakery Sales Into Regional Grocery Stores Grow Your Business?

We are so glad you asked! Here are just a few things you can expect once you've established relationships with your local grocers: 

Increased Sales

Partnering with regional grocery stores can significantly boost your sales. Every day grocery stores attract a large and diverse customer base which will provide a broader market for your baked goods. This exposure can lead to higher sales volumes than you might achieve through your bakery alone, especially if you can secure a place in multiple stores across a region. Think of it this way "the more exposure, the more eyes, the more opportunity for sales".

Increased Brand Recognition

Selling your products in regional grocery stores can enhance your brand's visibility. When new customers stumble upon your baked goods at their local grocery, they'll be given a chance to fall in love with your brand which is something that might not have happened if your retail bakery isn't nearby. This exposure will help more people recognize and become more familiar with your products. This can lead to building a loyal following of customers who can't get enough of your delicious treats. Once someone discovers the magic of your brand, they'll likely keep coming back for more. Selling in a regional grocery chain is a chance for you to win over new fans!

Increased Awareness of Your Local Retail Store(s)

When customers discover your products in a grocery store, they may be inclined to visit your bakery to explore a wider range of offerings. This dual exposure can strengthen your local presence and draw new foot traffic to your retail bakery. It also provides an opportunity to build a customer base that appreciates both the convenience of grocery store availability and the unique experience of visiting your physical bakery.

Selling Your Products In Regional Grocery Stores Also Comes With Challenges

There is always a flip side to every coin. More sales and increased exposure are definitely great benefits of offering your products within a local grocery chain, but there are definitely some challenges that you should keep in mind. Here are just a few...

Being Prepared to Meet Demand

Can your current production process manage a major increase in workload? One of the most significant challenges of expanding into grocery stores is the need to meet increased demand. Before committing to any sales agreement with a local retailer, you should definitely assess your production capabilities and whether you can handle larger orders consistently. This might require scaling up your operations, investing in new equipment, or hiring additional staff to keep up with higher production volume. Make sure you are prepared for the influx in business that comes with your increased brand recognition.

Developing a Production and Packing Process

To succeed in grocery stores, you must have a streamlined production and packing process. Your products need to be packaged in a way that meets grocery store standards, ensuring they remain fresh and appealing on the shelves. This involves maintaining quality control, optimizing packaging for transportation, and ensuring your products have a shelf life that suits the grocery store's needs. Also, consider any updates to labeling that might be required to meet both the store and regulatory standards.

Building Brand Recognition That Grocery Stores Value

Before a grocery store agrees to carry your products, they often look for established brand recognition and a proven customer base. Demonstrating that your bakery has a faithful tribe and a strong local presence can make your products more attractive to grocery store buyers. This may involve marketing efforts, community engagement, and leveraging social media to build a recognizable and respected brand.

Establishing the Relationship and Terms with Grocery Stores

Entering the grocery store market requires building relationships with store buyers and negotiating favorable terms. This includes nailing down pricing, delivery schedules, and promotional support. Establishing these relationships takes time and persistence, as well as a clear understanding of the grocery store’s expectations and requirements. If you don't know how to find buyers, consider meeting with management at a store that you believe would be a good fit for your brand. They may not be the decision maker on these types of matters, but they will likely know who to connect you with. Also, research and attend industry trade shows to network and increase your opportunities of meeting the right contacts.

Maintaining the Ongoing Relationship

Once your products are on the shelves, maintaining a positive relationship is crucial. Building a strong partnership with grocery store managers can lead to better shelf placement, promotional opportunities, and long-term success. It is important to be a strong communicator, meet delivery deadlines, and are responsive and timely with resolving issues as they arise.

The Long-Term Value Of Selling Your Baked Goods In Grocery Stores Can Expand Your Brand

The exposure you gain by selling in regional grocery stores can significantly expand your brand reach. More customers will have the opportunity to try your products, potentially leading to increased demand and lifetime fans of the brand. As your brand becomes more recognizable, customers may seek out your bakery for a wider selection of goods not available in grocery stores, boosting your overall sales and sending foot traffic to your website or physical store. This can also need additional opportunities outside of your region and even nationally.

Partnering with regional grocery stores offers a pathway to grow your bakery. The benefits of increased sales, brand recognition, and customer awareness can propel your business to new levels. However, it is essential to be prepared for the challenges of meeting demand, maintaining quality, and building strong relationships with grocery stores.  With careful planning and execution, positioning your products in grocery stores can be a significant step towards achieving long-term growth for your bakery.

By understanding both the opportunities and the challenges, you can make a better informed decision that will position your bakery for success in the competitive grocery store market. Expanding your bakeries reach and attracting new customers is a way to not only grow your business, but it can also increase your fan base. Visibility is your friend and getting creative with things like free taste testings and in store demonstrations will help get your name out there. The sky's the limit!

Cyd N. Mitchell
Business Blogger, Retail Bakers of America

Cydni N. Mitchell (aka Cyd) is a Bakery Consultant and the Sweet Business Coach behind Sweet Fest®. Based in Atlanta, GA, Sweet Fest® is an online company that supports the business needs of the Sweet Community in the areas of professional development, marketing, branding and web design.

By trade, Cyd is an accountant & financial analyst with a Masters from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the Founder of the Sugar Coin Academy, an online business academy for business owners in the baking and sweets industry, and she is also the organizer of The Ultimate Sugar Show, Georgia’s Largest Annual Baking and Sweets Expo in Atlanta. She is also the Business Blogger for the Retail Bakers of America.