Five must-follow steps for housewares inventors to sell their dream products

So you have a really great housewares invention. You have been through rounds of prototype development and finally have the product of your dreams.

What happens next?

How do you get your product onto retail shelves and into consumers’ homes?

This is where the Rosemont-based International Housewares Association (IHA) can help.

IHA has been a leading voice in the home and housewares industry for 86 years and hosts the world’s premier exposition of products for the home, The Inspired Home Show, taking place March 17-19 in Chicago.

One special destination at the Show is the Inventors Corner and Inventors Revue, where inventors from around the globe show off their products and engage in “Shark Tank”-style pitching. This area is valuable to housewares inventors because they gain in-person feedback from industry experts — and capture the attention of manufacturers and retailers scouting out the next big innovation.

Year after year, we have witnessed inventors benefit from the resources we offer. With our wealth of knowledge, we are sharing five steps new inventors should follow to make their dream production- or retail-ready:

1. Find your manufacturing facility.

The manufacturing facility you choose can make or break your success in selling your product, as the facility will directly impact quality, shipping time and costs. Be sure to research facilities with the appropriate manufacturing technology, expertise and a track record. Communicate directly with your top choices to vet them. Then, send detailed information on how to produce your product and request a quote on manufacturing costs. Evaluate their pricing, prototypes and responsiveness to pick the right facility for the job.

2. Protect your product.

Filing for a full patent shouldn’t be the first thing you do after coming up with your product idea, or even your first prototype. It’s wise to wait until your product is ready to mass manufacture so you can take advantage of the maximum patent enforcement window when it comes time to approach buyers. Plus, if you file a patent too early and your product design changes (which it will!) during the manufacturing process, you will have to re-file your application, which is costly.

3. Prepare your marketing materials.

Presentation is paramount to selling your product, whether you do it yourself or with support from retailers, wholesalers or investors. Before pitching to buyers, prepare all marketing assets, including branded packaging, professional product photos and videos, a website, a sales sheet and a product presentation deck with your business plan. If you can afford it, use focus groups and hire professionals to design the packaging and produce your photos, videos and website.

4. Identify your distribution, fulfillment and shipping companies.

Just like with the manufacturing facility, choosing the right companies for distribution, fulfillment and shipping is crucial to your selling success. Chicago is known as the logistics capital of the world, so you’ll find a wealth of distribution and fulfillment companies that offer services to fit your budget. You’ll also want to find a shipping company in the U.S. to avoid taxes and customs fees that other countries may tack on to your total shipping cost.

5. Determine your pricing structure

Now that you’ve chosen a manufacturer, work with them to get your product’s net cost-per-unit. Add your profit margin to this number to set a base retail and wholesale price, or the lowest price at which you can sell your product and still make a profit. Once you have a base price, create a sliding-scale pricing structure that gives wholesalers price breaks for buying in bulk. Now you are ready to pitch your product to buyers.

By using these steps as a guide, your dream product could be well on its way to retail readiness. The Inventors Corner at The Inspired Home Show in Chicago can help you find even more retail success through the valuable feedback and exposure you’ll receive. Sign up today to exhibit your product at

Dawn Evans is the director of marketing at The International Housewares Association. For more questions on how you can pitch your invention at The Inspired Home Show’s Inventors Revue, email

An inventor listens to feedback from a panel of direct response experts during the Inventors Revue’s “Pitch to the Pros” series at 2023 The Inspired Home Show. Courtesy of Loren Scott Fiedler
Inventor Jin Chen pitches her product, Planeket, to a panel of direct response experts at 2023 The Inspired Home Show. Courtesy of Loren Scott Fiedler
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