Reseller kits differ, according to which type of reseller you use and whether you use one or two-tier distribution. To get a product into distribution, you would send either the retail or VAR reseller kit–this will contain the same information that wholesale distributors need to see prior to approval and assigning a part number.
In addition, with distribution you would usually commit to a promotional plan, complete an application and sign a distributor agreement. These agreements can contain lots of “gotcha’s” (such as replacement of inventory–even if there is a fire on their end, etc.) so be careful–you don’t have to accept everything–they just put everything in the agreement. Get qualified help at this step since the agreement can affect your overall profitability and risk.
Following are sample reseller kit elements (some contain links to actual reseller samples):
The audience for a retail kit is the software buyer, either at a superstore, mass merchant, regional chain, consumer electronics, or independent reseller. They all need the same information. The quality of this kit often decides whether or not the buyer will take your call, and whether or not you will get into the chain.
While attending Retail Vision (a major retail event attended by most of the big chains), I was told once by Mike Smith, a buyer at CompUSA, that some vendors have sent a poorly designed box with a basic intro letter. He explained that he rejects them and doesn’t follow-up or spend any time with them since they, “Obviously” don’t know what is required, and he has no time to train them.
When I then told him how small the company was that I worked for (when I originally sent the package), he said he would not have let us into his store based on our numbers, but we had such a professional retail kit that addressed all his questions he figured we must know what we were doing. Of course, as a result of getting into our desired locations, we grew from $2 million to $12 million during the same year.
Typically I create a retail kit with the following items (some of these items can also be found within the collateral section of this site):
- Product Package. This is one of the first collateral pieces, and the most important item you can send since the buyer will often determine whether you do or do not get on the shelf based on your package. Click HERE to register with the Chanimal site (lists are not sold). This will allow you access to “The Cave” to download the entire Chanimal Packaging Guidelines in MS Word format. These guidelines are invaluable and contain the framework and acid tests for effective package design (whether virtual or actual packaging)–perfect guidelines for submitting to your design team!
- Folder. I typically create a generic folder with a place for a sticker–then I sticker the kit “Retail Kit.” Then I can re-use the relatively expensive folders for other purposes such as, “Press kit,” etc.
- Introductory letter. This would briefly (1-2 sentences) explain the company, the market, the product, a special stocking offer (I always open with a promotion), and the request to be stocked, along with a hint on possible MDF/CO-op expenditures.
- Sell Sheet. This is typically a black and white (so it can also be faxed) double-sided slick that is given to buyers and distribution only–it is not an end-user piece. I’ve included two sample sell sheets below of two products that no longer exist. Sometimes I have created a panel of data sheets that provides the same kind of information as a sell sheet. The Sell sheet pretty much provides all of the information that the buyer needs to decide to stock and order the product, including the following information:
- Product name
- MSRP (for distribution since they use this for markup) and/or anticipated street price
- Product overview
- Market size/potential/demographics
- Competitive position
- Company/Product awards
- Projected Rate of Sales
- Launch outline
- Ordering information (product SKU, disti number, weight, size)
- System specs
- Company background
- Contact information
- Product Slick. This is the single, four-color product slick that is given to customers. Below are two sample product slicks as samples. As a standard collateral piece (not specific to resellers), the format and information are discussed within the Marcom collateral section. The product slick sample for 3-D Website builder also doubled as a shelf talker (laminated and then hung on the retail shelf next to the product). Samples: Consultant Slick, IQTechProsSlick, Feedonomics .
- PowerPoint. A presentation that you can review with the buyer in person, or over the phone.
- Point of Purchase (POP) samples. I include any special POP materials–if available (laminated product slicks that act as shelf hangers, tent cards, pictures of pop-up displays, monitor wraps (depending on product type), store demo displays, etc.
- Product reviews. I typically photocopy positive customer and press reviews (or send reprints) so the buyer will have 3rd person validation that our product is good. These positive reviews are garnered through our analyst and PR efforts.
- Sample product in Package. If the box is completed, I send a complete package to review. Of course, the packaging follows the Chanimal Packaging Guidelines (available for FREE when you register at the Chanimal site). One time I was able to sell in-prior to having received my printed boxes, so I sent a color box proof–they got to see the packaging and I got set up in their system prior to even having the box back from the printer.
- Promotional flyer. I usually run a buy 2, get one free, or some other type of special “sell-in” promotion that is acceptable to the store (some don’t like 2/1, but prefer a discount (same thing but their systems handle it differently)) and only good for the first order. This helps get more inventory into the store during the initial order, and sometimes helps set a lower, more competitive price–that often goes unchanged.
- Demo CD or video. I include a demo product CD or video if available. This would help them to see the product–if they decided to do that much due diligence. You can also send a YouTube link.
- Give-away item. Sometimes I include a T-shirt, hat, mug, mouse pad, or other small branded giveaway items to get the buyer to remember me and the product. I am cautious to understand their rules for “gifts” so I don’t violate any retail store ethics policy.
VAR, System Integrator Kit
The VAR/System Integrator Kit contains the same items as the retail kit (minus any shelf talker or other POP material), plus additional reseller authorization information–if applicable (if they have not already signed up). The VAR authorization program, with its associated deliverables, are described within the Partner Program section. From the Partner Program section, the VAR kit would contain the following existing or additional elements:
- Reseller PowerPoint
- Introductory letter
- Competitive Reseller Matrix (shows every major element of a program and allows you to compare yours to your competitors)
- A detailed Reseller application
- A reseller agreement
- Description of the reseller levels (Authorized, Gold, Platinum, etc.) along with the benefits and requirements at each level
- Contact information
- Reseller NFR prices
- Distribution part numbers
- Sample product slicks, data sheets
- Customer PowerPoint
- Training requirements & schedules
- Q & A
REGISTER (no cost) and download a complete sample reseller program in a single .zip file (all the items above in Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats) – approx.. 2.9 meg. The latest version contains a complete re-work and update and can be used to create an entire online partner portal.
- Aber Law Firm. Jeremy specializes in software law and helps with EULA, SAAS Contracts, Channel Agreements, Software Licensing, Software Litigation, Reverse Engineering, Open Source Licensing, OEM Agreements, API Licensing, Trademarks and MUCH more. I’ve met him at a conference and he’s a really nice guy–plus he is in Austin (home base for Chanimal).