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Do It Yourself

At TLB Consulting we can give you the tools to grow your business and expand the reach of your products.
Thousands of companies just like yours have made it into Costco and sold their products successfully for years.  What makes the difference between companies that are in and the one’s that are out?  The successful companies that have made it into Costco had the following things in common:

  • They were prepared:  They did their homework and had a plan.  They knew what they were getting themselves into and had already made the necessary adjustments for success.
  • They hired a company or individual who had expertise in selling Costco to fill in the gaps in their plan and advise them during the process.  
  • They understood Costco’s business model and that Costco would not bend their rules even for them.
  • They were in the right place, at the right time with the right item.

Will your product be the next big item at Costco?  Only time and preparation will tell.  At TLB Consulting I am  dedicated to making this dream a reality.

Remember:  You don't have to be  big to do business with Costco, but you do need to have the right tools. 

Using my propriatary 11 step process outlined below I can create a Costco Sales Strategy that is unique to your company and product.
 Sales & Product Strategies for Costco
I.  Product Selection: 
  • Determine if a single product or multiple products will be offered.  At times, in order to create the value needed to meet Costco’s standards, you may have to bundle products together.  Bundling products can also help with your distribution network as you have created a different and unique item number.

II.  Pricing: 
  • Research distribution network to determine lowest sell prices in the market on the products you would like to offer Costco.  
  • Ensure you have a handle on all prices and products being offered for sale.  If you don’t you can be sure Costco will.  They will do their research which means you need to as well.
  • Create possible pricing structure taking into account prices currently being offered.

III.  Distribution affect: 
  • Determine how selling product to Costco at reduced pricing or added value will affect your current distribution network.  Distributors and dealers can sometimes become difficult if they believe you are undercutting them by offering the same products to Costco.

IV.  Packaging: 
  • Determine what type of packaging you will be offering to Costco.  Costco is very specific on their packaging requirements.  Generally they require a single display pallet.
  • Price out packaging and graphics.  

V.  Logistics:
  • Take a look at your current logistics capacity to determine if you are able to service a large client like Costco.  Knowing your capacity will help you determine what your sell through expectations will be.
  • Analyze Costco’s routing guide to ensure you are including all required aspects when looking at logistics.

VI.  Other costs: Review the below additional costs.
  • Customer service support:  Do you have the phone support required to handle the influx of customers or will you have to hire a company to handle this aspect.
  • EDI Costs (Electronic Data Interchange):  Price out EDI to include in your financials.
  • Promotional costs:  Will you want to participate in any promotions?  The various promotions at Costco are where the sales really explode and should be planned for accordingly.
  • Shipping:  Costco will require a delivered cost to their depots.  You must cost average this out and include in your cost structure.
  • Returns and defects:  How will you manage the return and defect portion.  This can get expensive and should be carefully evaluated.

VII.  Potential sell through quantities: Based on what divisions of Costco you are going after create some scenarios that show potential quantity sales.  Costco has 3 divisions in the US and an international division:
  • Costco Wholesale
  • Costco.com
  • Costco Road Show
  • Canada (Canada is Costco’s second largest market with over 70 warehouses)
  • Mexico
  • UK
  • Taiwan
  • Japan
  • Korea

  • Create an item PNL using above information to determine viability of program.  You never want to do this after the deal has been made.  Entering into a program and finding out after you are having success that you are loosing money will be devastating. 
  • Moving to the next step will be based on the outcome of your item PNL.

IX.  Costco: 
  • Decide which division of Costco you should contact first.
  • Make initial contact with Costco buyer and gauge interest.  You will probably need help here as getting through to Costco buyers can be very difficult if not impossible. 
  • If enough interest exists set an initial meeting at Costco HQ.

X.  Pre-meeting
  • Final decision on at least two, no more than three packaging options.  Nail down your options as you will only have approximately 30 minutes to pitch your idea to Costco and you want to have time left over to discuss next steps.
  • Final decision on cost pricing to include in presentation.
  • Create presentation 
  • Confirm meeting 1 week prior to date.
XI.  Meeting:
  • Presentation:  In your presentation be thorough, but not over the top.  Keep your pitch smart and to the point.
  • Q & A:  Be prepared for Costco to have some questions not just about your product, but about you and your company as well.  Know your competition and your market.  They will test you.
  • Meeting follow up:  Make sure you nail down next steps and follow up before you leave the meeting.

As a sales and retail trainer, troubleshooter, facilitator and business analyst I can help your team see the bigger picture and focus on success rather than effort.  I am an expert at getting your teams "Unstuck" and moving again in the right direction.  

Below are some of the areas in which I can add value to your organization and build on the great team you have already created.  Feel free to email me anytime for additional information.  
Half day seminar:  "Solution based selling":  The key to reaching your goals by giving your customers everything they want.
Tailored sales training:  Let me tailor a sales program for your team that utilizes their passion and drive.
Troubleshooting:  "Are your sales flat to last year or dropping and you just can't put your finger on why."  Put my extensive retail and sales experience to work for your company and let's get sales moving again.

Outsource your product sales to us and let TLB Consulting take your product to market.  We can present your product to many of the top retailers in the US and Internationally at a fraction of the cost associated with a sales force.

In today's economy sales forces are getting reduced, travel budgets are being slashed and companies are struggling just to maintain the clients they have let alone bring in new business.

Creating the delicate balance between comparable sales increase and new business is a tricky calculation.  Over expansion while neglecting current and tested business has been the formula for many business disasters.  With that said it is necessary and healthy to expand your business by consistently bringing in new customers in a measured sustainable way.

At TLB our Total Sales Solution consists of:

  • Strategic Plan:  We will create a strategic roadmap targeting the specific retailers required.  A clear and concise plan will help narrow the scope of the project and ensure desired results are met.
  • Hidden costs:  Consult on upfront on backend costs associated with selling to Big Box retail stores.  Planning and upfront knowledge is the key to a long term and successful relationship with Costco and other like retailers.

  • Pricing, Packaging and Distribution:  Create a pricing structure that not only takes into account the necessary components of each retailer, but also does not disrupt any current distribution channels.

  • Sales & Management:  We will approach the targeted retailers, sell the product and manage the accounts.  You have one point of contact, which is us, and we handle the rest.
Let us help you grow your business
Total Sales Solution
International Sales & Sourcing
Let us help you sell and source your product globally!
Whether you are already selling your products in the U.S. or just starting out; it is never to early to start thinking global.  

At TLB Consulting not only can we build you a retail marketing strategy domestically we can also take your product international.  We have retail connections all over the world and can create a specialized plan to promote your products in the following retail markets:

  • Mexico
  • Canada
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Columbia
  • South America
  • Israel
  • Europe
  • Asia

The US is one piece of a very large pie; why stop there, when the opportunities abroad are endless.
Specific expertise in the following areas:
  • Sourcing 
  • Product placement & account management
  • Local product representation
  • International logistics
  • Specific country business, product and retail requirements
At TLB Consulting we have a first hand understanding and knowledge of the global retaiI market so you don't have to.  Please take a look below at the 7 areas we feel are crucial to your success when selling product internationally.   

  • Local culture & Customs:  Understanding a country's culture, customs and specific business practices will make the difference between closing the sale and going away empty handed.  International business relationships are built over time and based on mutual respect and common interests.  The fast paced, multi tasking approach common in the US will not be as successful in the Middle East or South America.  You may walk away empty handed from a business lunch in Saudi Arabia simply because you ate with your left hand.  Saudis only eat with the right hand as the left is considered dirty.  Speaking the local language, knowing when to push, when to eat, when to call it a day, when to relax and when to close are all nuances specific to each country and learned over time.

  • Packaging:  Packaging, product copy, images and displays need to be culturally specific and appropriate to each country.  It would be disappointing to build an entire product launch around a female celebrity only to find women on packaging in the Middle East is not accepted as women are held in high regard and are not to expose body parts.  Ensuring your packaging is in the correct language and dialect needs to also be a consideration.  Packaging in China would not go over well if it were only in Mandarin; it would also need to be in Cantonese.  Be sure your graphic designer understands which colors are strong and acceptable for each country and region.  In China the color green is associated with “Health, Prosperity and Harmony”, however do not market green hats as they are associated with infidelity.

  • Logistics:  Freight forwarders, lead times, port authorities, peak ship times, reverse logistics due to returns, customs and freight rates are just a few of the issues you will have to be an expert at to ensure your products get to market as promised.

  • Regulations & Certifications:  Just like UL approval in the US other countries have a multitude of different certifications, approvals, and packaging requirements that need to be planned for and allotted the appropriate amount of time to complete.  The loss in revenue caused by the confiscation of an entire shipment by the Saudi government because it didn’t have the appropriate SASO approval can be devastating to any company as will finding you shipped your 4th quarter products to Israel without the appropriate ISI certifications.

  • In country representation:  Using in country representation can be a critical part of your products success.  An agency who dialed into the specific retailers you are targeting can give you an even greater understanding, insight and specifics regarding your product and how it is performing.  Having someone on the ground in country at all times can also help with training and product promotions to ensure their success.

  • Pricing your products for local retail & wholesale:  Pricing your product to be competitive internationally can be tricky.  Before committing to any deal you should be aware of the following:

  • a. What are the sensitive price points in the countries you are selling into?  What prices will move your product and get you the sell through you and the dealers are looking for?
  • b. Have you factored in freight, duty, certifications and import costs into your model?
  • c. When using an in country Distribution Partner ensure you factor in the different pricing levels knowing each level needs to make a profit.
  • d. Currency variations:  Is the country you are selling into having large currency swings or does it have a level balance?  Will you sponsor a currency smoothing program or take your chances with the market?

  • Payments & Credits:  Once you have mastered the above 6 items and have a deal in the works I am sure you want to get paid.  Acceptable credit, terms and payments schedules can vary by country.  A “Letter of Credit” with a well known bank is most common; however, this can add expense to your customer who will likely want to recoup it somewhere.  International receivable insurance, short shipments, charge backs and credit checks are some other critical areas to consider when looking to get paid in full for your product.

To learn more about how our "Total Sales Solution" can be the solution your company has been looking for email us now using the link below.
Complete Product Evalution and Recommendations
Creating and marketing your own product can be very personal.  You have invested so much time and effort into your creation that it can become difficult to be objective in areas like;

  • Product viability
  • Pricing
  • Packaging
  • Target market
  • Key retail partners

Putting your product on the correct path from the begining can be far easier than turning the Titanic around at a later date.  The decisions you and your company make during this phase can determine how successful your product will become.  

TLB Consulting can help you take a non bias look at your products sales capacity and market viability during this stage giving you invaluable information to help any course corrections if necessary.  

In November of 2012 we hired TLB Consulting to get the proper pricing strategy and ultimately a purchasing meeting with Costco.

The experience working with TLB was very professional and informative.  The information we gained during the project was extremely useful and pertinent to what we were attempting to accomplish.

TLB is a top notch consulting company and I would recommend them to anyone looking to understand and do business with Costco.

Tim has been a resouce I would use again with my next product placement.

Frank Moran
President, Gate Mate Inc.
Why is TLB’s TSS Program right for your company?

  • Time Savings:  We have the contacts and do not require any ramp up time.  Retailers are already buttoning down their merchandising plan for next year and we have the ability to speak to them immediately.

  • Cost Savings:  Our fees are a combination of a low monthly fee and commission the combination of which will be lower than the cost of one sales executive.

  • Low Investment:  We already have all the tools for success and do not require any investment from your company other than product knowledge.

  • Low Risk:  As an outsourced sales team we require no yearly evaluations, raises, or vacation.  Our worth to your company is purely results driven.