PORTLAND, ME – Like so many Medtrade attendees last year, Jim Greatorex searched for fantastic retail opportunities on the show floor. When Medtrade convenes in Orlando, Fla, this year from Oct 7-10, the manufacturers will be bringing the goods to him.
With the help of other experienced Medtrade presenters, Greatorex will sort through the latest products to find the six-or-so best of the bunch. The manufacturers of the selected products will be on hand to answer questions and, in some situations, make deals.
“I, and many others, go to Medtrade looking for the next great cash opportunity,” says Greatorex, owner of Black Bear Medical, Portland, Me. “This year providers will have a chance to expand their business and in some situations be one of the first to promote a product.”
Whittling down the bounty of products to just six is a tall order, but Greatorex and the other panelists will cull based on the biggest opportunities. “We will look for products with large potential markets,” he explains. “Perhaps a new diabetic product where the demographic is sizable. Manufacturers also have to tell us about their direct-to-consumer marketing plan, because if they are not going to be part of the marketing process in helping drive awareness, the chances of success are diminished.”
Beating the Walmarts
Especially for new products, Greatorex relies on territory protection for a certain amount of exclusivity. “You don’t want to do all this work and then just have the manufacturer set up the guy down the street,” he cautions. “Because he’ll cash out on all of your efforts. I think most manufacturers are also looking for a business partner—a good quality partner—rather than spreading themselves thin.”
Greatorex advises looking for products that require a certain level of expertise. Call it a way to lessen the attraction of the big box stores. “Your Walmart greeter is not an expert on pain management or compression products,” he says. “We need to become specialty shops where we are the geeks of our own industry. Make the experience worth the extra money you will be charging. There is plenty of opportunity there and Medtrade will be a great place to find those strategies and solutions.”
Carrying products on the “better and best” scale is another way to differentiate from the national chains, because product quality at Walmart generally meanders in the average to good category. “You generally don’t find the better and the best at Walmart, and lot of the savvy shoppers are looking for the better and best—along with the expertise,” adds Greatorex, “and that is where we can find our niche. We can compete by carrying better products than these guys have.”