Natural Foods Merchandiser

Tips to take home to the PC department

From advice for sprucing up old store hardware to guidance on training top-notch staff, retailers got schooled in the latest tips for merchandising personal care in Friday’s seminar “Merchandising Personal Care Products.”

“One of the biggest problems [for natural personal care] is people don’t know our brands,” said Cheryl Bottger, an industry veteran with more than 30 years of experience including managing, training, buying and new-store development. “We’ve got to build brand identity, and good merchandising will do that.”

Jon Fiume, vice president of retail operations and natural products at Ritzman Natural Health Pharmacy in Akron, Ohio, analyzed the merchandising techniques of retail chains Aveda, Sephora and Origins, drawing out ideas that are applicable to the naturals channel, from display height to staff appearance.

“Steal an idea and make it your own,” said Cheryl Hughes, owner of The Whole Wheatery in Lancaster, Calif. For example, don’t just give out samples, she said. Put the product on the shoppers’ skin, the way salespeople in department stores do. “We’re moving in on their territory,” she said.

One of the keys to successful personal care sales, Bottger and Hughes agreed, is to be comfortable with your knowledge of your products, so you know exactly what to say about them to customers and feel confident in recommending them.

But when it comes down to making the sale, Bottger said, often the most important thing to do is just listen. “You can kill a sale by not listening to a customer,” she said. Her advice: Don’t ask: “How may I help you?” Instead, ask: “What can I help you find?” Or, “What product are you using now?” These specific questions are much more likely to turn into a conversation—and, ultimately, a sale, Bottger said. And before she dismissed the audience, she led the more than 80 voices in the mantra “I will never, ever say, ‘How may I help you.’”

--Hilary Oliver
Senior editor
Natural Foods Merchandiser

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.