Natural Foods Merchandiser

6 tips for fostering consumer trust at retail

Engendering trust means more than ever in natural retail. Here's how some are doing it.

Set standards and communicate them. Formally establish what you will and will not allow from suppliers with regard to farming practices and ingredients, and post it in your store and on your website. “If you decide you are going to say ‘No’ to a product and you cannot say why, you lose trust from the manufacturer too,” says John Wood of Green Grocer.

Offer employee discounts. “The problem with big box stores is that employees have no product knowledge and aren’t invested in the brands,” says Mark Kastel, co-founder of the farm policy research group The Cornucopia Institute. If you and your employees shop at your store, it shows customers you trust your brands and you can genuinely recommend them. “This is the secret weapon of small independents.”

Have a weekly e-newsletter. It’s a great way to introduce your suppliers and farmers to your customers and keep them posted on in-store events.

Vet your products personally. Visit farms and manufacturing facilities when you can and use third-party resources like HowGood and the Cornucopia Institute to keep up on how brands are doing when it comes to sustainability.

Listen to your customers. Walk the aisles, put a suggestion box in your store and use social media to interact with your customers.

Accept returns. “If the retailer has an unconditional satisfaction guarantee, that is the best way to demonstrate its trustworthiness,” says Jay Jacobowitz of consulting firm Retail Insights.

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