Parents shouldn’t worry about feeding their children organic foods sourced from China—provided a product carries the USDA Organic seal, says the Organic Trade Association. Still, consumers’ distrust of products imported from China and Latin America, in particular, as well as a lack of understanding of organic regulations, means natural products retailers should be prepared to field questions about imported organic items.
Developing trusting, transparent relationships with customers who rely on retailers to supply the highest quality organics should be a priority for every staff member at your store—from stockers to segment managers to checkout clerks.
1. Know what you stock.
Boothe: I hear a lot of people say, “A friend of mine shops with you, and she says if you don’t carry a product, there’s a reason why.” Sometimes that feels like a huge responsibility for me. No retailer can be 100 percent sure about every product, but it’s important to be transparent and tell your customers what questions you ask suppliers. Let them know you live the lifestyle you’re preaching.
Wright: Just because you’ve been stocking a company’s products for five to 10 years doesn’t mean you don’t need to revisit questions about its quality-assurance and control practices. They may have changed the way they do things to save on costs. Questioning takes more work, but it means we can sleep better at night.
2. Share what you know.
Boothe: I tell people to get to know store owners and key employees, and to ask them what they do to ensure their products are the best. There have been hot new items I’ve felt would be very popular and we could make a lot of money on, but we chose not to carry the products because I didn’t know much about them.
Wright: We talk to customers specifically about what certified organic means and what’s required of a certified company. If these explanations don’t make customers feel we’ve vetted a product, we give them our vendors’ phone numbers and encourage them to ask questions and share their concerns.
3. Give them a choice.