The Supply Side: CPG Innovators expose smaller suppliers to resources, education

by Jamie Smith ([email protected]) 278 views 

The world of consumer packaged goods (CPG) in retail is changing and it’s a move that has a strong potential to benefit small brands.

This is just one message participants in the CPG Innovators Conference heard Wednesday (April 20) at the Shewmaker Center for Workforce Technologies in Bentonville.

Hosted by Selling to the Masses and Startup Junkie Consulting, the event was designed to bring brands to Northwest Arkansas to not only expose them to the supplier-friendly environment in the region, but also educate them on how to improve their overall sales and reach, said Matt Fifer, founder and CEO of Selling to the Masses.

Shannon Bedore, managing director of Sightline Retail, which helps “businesses develop relationships and achieve growth across multiple retailers,” shared about how the world of retail is a “changing game” and how certain challenges that small brands face are actually potential advantages over large, major brands that are starting to struggle in the marketplace.

SupplysidelogoPropak“Challenges also exist for the big brands,” she said. “Growth for the top global brands slowed to 1.7% growth last year, down from 5.6% growth in 2012.”

Bedore said several challenges could also be perceived as advantages, the first being that small businesses usually have less internal expertise on a wide range of areas but that also means the smaller business is more adept at finding outsourced help, which is a concept many big brands fail to understand.

Small brands may also struggle with cash flow, but that also means they are more adept at varying expenses and sources of cash flow, she said. Small businesses also struggle to optimize their potential, but that also means they have room to grow whereas larger brands may have less room for upward movement.

Bedore also spoke about how the industry is seeing an “irrational market” in that trends that would be expected are not holding true and vice versa. For example, companies are seeing less sales but consumers are spending more. This means the consumers are finding more choices, with some of those choices on services rather than goods.

Another misnomer is that the rise in e-commerce is driving the rise in consumer sales. Not so much, Bedore said.

“The total money spent in retail is coming from other segments,” she said.

What the lessons are telling brands of all sizes is that it’s better to have a wider number of items instead of a few strong performers.

The participants also heard from Clint Lazenby, founder and CEO of the newly announced SYNCDUP, which is a “matching and continuity platform for companies seeking the absolute best outside sales team and distributors.”

Lazenby spoke about how to find the best representation for a brand when trying to connect with retailers, specifically the big box stores. Much of Lazenby’s presentation focused on the various path to market options from a full-service broker to having full-time resources in-house.

Woven throughout the conference were spotlights on Northwest Arkansas businesses that started small and have found recent retail success. The morning spotlights included Lauren James, Kyya Chocolate, and EcoVet.