Natural Foods Merchandiser
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Retailer roundtable: What action this year made the most difference to your bottom line?

Four retailers reflect on what they did in 2017 to grow revenues and improve their efficiency.

“We started to focus our efforts on companies with strictly enforced minimum advertised price (MAP) policies in order to stay competitive with Amazon. Along with the popularity of our store brand, this strategy has already given us much better customer retention. Instead of going online to rebuy products, customers continue to come back for our superior customer service and prices that are equivalent to what they could get online.”

-Ramona Billingslea, marketing and education manager, Betsy's Health Food stores based in Houston, Texas

“We did four things. 1) We negotiated better supply agreements and payment terms with distributors. 2) We focused on our category management by limiting the amount of items we put on promotion and giving our buyers gross profit parameter. 3) We established new target profit margins and focused on buying high-velocity items more strategically. 4) We tightened up labor by holding our store team leaders to very specific labor goals. We are able to now focus on sales growth for 2018 knowing that our bottom line will be strong.”

-Dean Nelson, CEO, Dean's Natural Food Market stores in New Jersey

“We improved product selection and continued to market in clever ways, but the best thing we did was get the staff excited about their positions, working for us and being part of a growing operation. We put a lot of effort into it and will continue to do so. This included offering a living wage and advocating for an increased minimum wage locally and nationally. But we also help them see that they aren’t just selling products but are a part of something bigger.”

-Michael Kanter, owner, Cambridge Naturals in Cambridge, Massachusetts

"A strategy we took on this past year and will continue is fine-tuning each category to offer a variety of choices without offering too many choices. Too many versions of the same product is confusing to the customer and labor intensive for the sales personnel. This revision also reduces the problem of out-of-dates and reduces time spent on placing orders. We have always taken pride in our varied inventory but have come to realize that our customers rely on our expertise and high standards in brands. They  trust what we have on the shelf is likely the best they will find."

-Angie O’Pry Blades, owner, Fiesta Nutrition Center, Monroe, Louisiana

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