In light of the new chain of stores that Whole Foods Market plans to open, what should independent stores be doing now? This new chain is going to feature smaller stores, with a more limited selection and service, but still with the Whole Foods ingredient standards. While the concept has been announced well in advance, no locations for initial stores have been confirmed yet.
But there are things that independent stores should be doing. The Whole Foods announcement is not the only impetus for action. The continued growth of natural and organic products in supermarkets, supercenters, warehouse clubs, convenience stores and natural chains have changed the retail dynamic such that independent stores need to constantly re-earn their place in the local market.
Here are five areas to concentrate on now.
Find and emphasize your differences. What do you do that is both different from and better than your competition? That’s what you should focus on. How do you add value to your shoppers, their families and their lives? That’s what you should focus on. The areas that you have in common with the other guys are the areas where your store is not special. Focus on your differences.
Talk up your roots. Make sure that your shoppers know that you are local. When you can, buy local. Hire local. Support the community and look for other local businesses with which you can partner. Educate your shoppers on the value of local businesses to the local economy.
Be new and be fresh. When you see a new item at a show, you can have that product featured in your store as soon as it can be shipped to you. Do that. Often! Keep it fresh and new and fun. It not only drives sales, but it also sets the expectation for shoppers to come back again.
Invest in your shoppers. Don’t just present them with sales fliers and self-serving literature. Invest in their health with good, third-party content and recipes. Let them know that you are there for their wellness. Put good information on your Facebook page, in your Twitter and Instagram feeds, on your YouTube channel, on your Pinterest pages and any other social media platform that your shoppers use. Delicious Living just launched an awesome new e-newsletter service that gives stores the tools to email medically edited and fact-checked consumer content direct to their shoppers. That’s the kind of stuff that you should be doing.
You may or may not end up with one of the new stores that Whole Foods is opening near you. Regardless of that, you have more competition now than you did five years ago—and not as much as you will have in five more years. Use this announcement by Whole Foods Market as motivation to up your game and ensure that your store is the best place for shoppers in your community to find natural, organic and healthy products.