Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

Alternative
Routes to Market

Erin Fasano is the Managing Editor of the Startup CPG Spotlight and the Co-Founder of Starryside, a brand on a mission to save creativity. Larissa and Fiona are the cofounders of Pod Foods, a full-service B2B Marketplace that helps brands scale into retail with unprecedented autonomy and insights.

Recently, Chris Kajander published a piece on the Spotlight helping founders understand how to work with traditional grocery distributors. For many, these big names are the first ones that come to mind, but there are other alternatives in the for new brands that can help you get started, with less hassle.

Self-Distribution to Start

For many brands, starting slowly and owning your local retail relationships is an important way to get started. As Justin Gold of Justin’s Nut Butter explained to me, getting to know your local retailers will help you get to know what retailers are looking for, how to talk to them, and helps you learn the lingo. Get to the independents in your area and start talking to the staff! Get to know them well and they’ll be more willing to help get your brand on the shelf. Gold told me that he knew the names and extracurricular activities of kids of his earliest retail supporters. At its heart, the grocery business is still a relationship business, so build relationships with your most important gate-keepers. Self-distribution won’t work beyond a small scale, but it is a great way to learn the grocery ropes, especially if you are new to CPG.

Pop-up Grocery Brings Instagram to Life

Emily Schildt, founder of Pop-Up Grocer told us for the April Issue of the Spotlight Magazine that she started Pop-Up Grocer to bring an “ideal launch environment” to life for her clients. It has since morphed into an opportunity for brands to work directly with a retailer, without needing a distribution network established, or even UPCs! The model is straightforward and direct – an advertising fee and a portion of the revenue in exchange for distribution (and pretty great Instagram coverage, too).

Currently popping-up in Chicago, Schildt is opening the first permanent location for Pop-Up Grocer in Q4 of 2021.

Another Alternative to Market

In 2014, Larissa Russell and Fiona Lee had a cookie company. Inspired by a cookie from Fiona’s home country, Singapore, they made cookies out of peas. Their branding was unique. Their products were tasty and healthy. They had customers across the country ordering large amounts of cookies through their online store. But when it came time to enter retail and scale their business, other brands in the industry warned them of a “necessary evil” – wholesale food distribution. Known to be costly, difficult, and out-dated, it became a roadblock to their growth. That’s why they created Pod Foods. Their model is differentiated from the other “big guys” and offer an alternative for brands who are ready to scale nationwide.

Instead of markups, chargebacks, and long lists of hidden fees, Pod Foods allows brands to set their own wholesale pricing and promotions, and charges a simple warehousing fee and transaction fee that includes last mile logistics to the store. Brands increase their margins as they grow.

Instead of obscuring information, Pod Foods provides analytics and shares information with brands in real time about where their products are being sold and how they can best support their own growth in specific regions and markets. They also have a hands-on vendor success team to advise, consult, and aid in your growth, and a retail team to help unlock and grow relationships.

Also, the platform solution and real-time, data-driven insights through an easy to access portal, which enables better management and planning for the brand.

Reach out to Pop-Up Grocer at hi@popupgrocer.co or Pod Foods at hi@podfoods.co to discuss distribution opportunities. Join our #sales channel to talk all things distribution with the community.

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