A Guide to Stocking Emerging Products for Your Store

Apr 14, 2020 1:31:16 PM / by Arik Keller

As a store owner in a small New England town, I take pride in the role that my store plays in our community. We're nestled at the base of a ski resort, and we value the locals that stop in each morning for a cup of coffee just as much as the skiers that stop by for snacks and a six pack after a long day on the mountain. When I first bought the store a year ago, there wasn't much to discover in the aisles besides the traditional consumer packaged goods you can find anywhere. My team and I made it part of our mission to change that.

There are countless reasons I can think of to stock more emerging food brands in 2020, and soon, I believe it will no longer be a choice. Consumers are demanding products with simple ingredients they can understand, with roots they can trace. Simply put, sourcing more specialty food brands equates to staying competitive. Supporting the food artisans that help make our communities vibrant is an added bonus.

Shifts in our inventory didn't happen overnight. Inventory is a big investment, in both time and money.  Plus, it can feel a bit daunting to take on a new product without knowing how well it will move off your shelf. Here, I'm sharing my tips to get started carrying more specialty brands, along with my top five product recommendations from emerging brands that are redefining consumer packaged goods, with simplified ingredients and smart packaging.


Tip #1 - Category Assessment

An easy way to transition out of carrying the same old packaged goods is to slowly introduce alternatives into your best selling categories. For my store, coffee and snacks are two of our best sellers. Over time, we slowly introduced new types of energy bars, alternative types of jerky, and coffee options that are easy to grab and go. Adding product to your best categories also eliminates the need to create a new category/display area in your store.

Try these products: 

Tip #2 - Ingredients

Determining what is "healthy" is not exactly my business as a store owner, but I can do my part to compare like products and chose to carry ones with fewer, more responsibly sourced ingredients, or ones that meet specific dietary objectives. Health means different things to different customers at different times. We respect that, and try to carry the full spectrum of dietary preferences of our customers. Take jerky as an example. In the last year, we've upgraded our options to include jerky made from mushrooms, and we’ve seen an extremely positive response from our customers. I’m really excited to watch these older categories transform, and it’s a great feeling to be able to introduce healthier options in my store.

Try these products: 

Tip #3 - Packaging

Packaging matters for both emotional and practical reasons. On the emotion front, the story behind an emerging brand is a huge part of what draws customers in to try a new product. My team does a great job positioning the story of our specialty food brands when they are out on the floor, but when the store is busy, I look for products with packaging that pops. On the practical side, great packaging keeps the product protected during drop shipping, ships without a lot of excess weight and waste, and promotes shelf stability.

Try these products: 

What do you consider most important when adding new brands to your inventory? Share your tips in the comments.

Tags: grocery wholesale, food wholesale, specialty food brand

Arik Keller

Written by Arik Keller