When shopping in natural stores, I frequently hear retailers give lots of excuses to justify why their products are out of stock. My least favorite is, "We sold out of the item because Dr. Oz mentioned it on his show.”
Retailers rarely, if ever, tell me when an out-of-stock item will be available. Instead, they choose to blame Dr. Oz when they could be capitalizing on the opportunity to convert me into a happy and loyal customer who could refer others to their store.
Nothing is more frustrating for consumers than finding out of stock items, especially on advertised sales. Bottom-ranked, unpopular items that frequently take the place of absent top-selling items force consumers to shop other retailers.
Every shopping trip must absolutely leave a favorable impression given the number of retail choices consumers have today. Just like other consumers, if I can’t easily find what I need, I will go to another store. As the expression goes, "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression."
If the true goal of natural retailers is to encourage others to embrace natural companies and our way of life, then having a popular nationally recognized and trusted celebrity advocating natural products is a huge win for our community. It should be embraced and welcomed.
Taking advantage of the 'Dr. Oz effect'
If I were a retailer, I would take full advantage of this opportunity. It’s free press! I would position my store as the destination source for Dr. Oz’s recommendations. Here's how:
- Have an employee watch the show every day (perhaps even the East Coast feed) with instructions to instantly order additional product to meet anticipated customer requests.
As of 9/7/12 this is no longer permissible by Dr Oz:
Advertise on your home page, enewsletter and social media networks that the store is the go-to source for Dr. Oz products.
- If the distributor is out-of-stock, have the manufacturer drop ship the item next-day air.
- Feature all of the recommended items recently mentioned by Dr. Oz, GMA, The Today Show, Hungry Girl, etc., in the store.
- Encourage manufacturers to support this initiative.
This innovative approach would not only give you a true competitive advantage, but would set you apart from the other retailers in every channel. Your store—the destination for new and trending items—would also become the favorite retailer for all manufacturers wanting new customers. Increased foot traffic would also assist you in developing a new trust relationship with customers, which would lead to larger purchases and greater profits.
Imagine a strategy that grows sales by meeting your customer’s needs and exceeding their expectations. This strategy is perfect for natural retailers because they already expertly support natural products; they are not restricted by large corporate bureaucracies; they are innovative and able to adapt to changing consumer needs; and they are the true gateway to "better for you" living.
Not a bad trade off for a little extra effort and a targeted marketing strategy!
Daniel Lohman is the owner of Category Management Solutions (CMS) which provides innovative strategic solutions for natural and organic CPG companies interested in gaining a significant competitive advantage.