Value equals benefits minus hassle.
In a retail seminar at Natural Products Expo West 2016, I introduced this definition of value into a discussion. I have had a series of ongoing discussions about this concept since then, so adding it to the topics in this forum seemed like a good thing.
Natural retailers have to focus on delivering value to their shoppers. This contrasts with simply trying to provide them goods at low costs. Those with whom natural retailers compete—grocery stores, national and regional chains, drug stores, e-tailers—are much better equipped to fight and prevail in a protracted price battle. Value is where our stores can excel, but little is understood about what value is and is not.
First, value is about benefits, what is gained from the purchase of a product. Second, it is about hassle, or the absence of it. So, while the first component of value is about the product, the other part of it is about the retailer and/or the purchase process or experience. As a retailer, you control both since you determine what you carry and control your operation.
This gives reinforcement to something vital. Retailers, especially natural product-focused ones, need to be very deliberate in choosing what brands and products they carry. Are they made well? Do the ingredients meet your standards? Are these products the ones that you wish tied to your reputation?
The desired, perceived or received benefits are going to vary from person to person. By this I am referring not only to the benefits that they want from buying natural and organic products in general, but also to those received from a specific product. For some, the benefits are about health and wellness. We can call those intended benefits since they were what the manufacturer and the retailer had in mind when these products were made and made available. For others, the benefits are about image, coolness and being trendy as they emulate celebrities and others using or endorsing a brand or product. I am not mentioning this to denigrate those who shop for something other than the intended benefits, but to make the point that some of the value that drives purchase is unintended and is therefore much more likely to change over time.
We should never stop stressing the health and wellness benefits coming from the products that we carry. Some of it will be preaching to the choir, but there are some in the choir who have not yet been converted.
Hassle has got to be one of the more negative words and concepts that there is. Retail hassle consists of issues relating to staff, supply and systems.
Staff: Do you have enough staff to make the shopping experience pleasant? Is your staff trained to give quality product information? Does your staff focus on customer service?
Supply: Are there chronic out of stocks on your shelves? Are best-sellers or sales items ever out of stock? Do your products have adequate dating on them for in home use?
Systems: Is your store focused on customer experience or staff convenience? Are your credit card and cash register systems reliable?
If you can minimize hassle and communicate benefits, you are providing value, meeting the needs of your customers and competing well.