All of my articles talk about creating a competitive set. This means having top-selling items on the shelves to draw new consumers into your store. But what sets you apart from the competition?
Consumers compare store pricing and selection by comparing like items at each store. Their perception is what keeps them coming back or pushes them away. It’s critical that retailers sell items that help them effectively compete in their local markets by aggressively pricing and merchandising popular items sold by your competition.
I am not suggesting that every retailer be a carbon copy of their competitor. To the contrary, I recommend that about 80 percent of the items in each category mirror what consumers want most—items available across multiple retailers and outlets. The remaining 20 percent should make a statement about the retailer and their focus in the community.
The most exciting thing about the natural channel is the incredible amount of innovation in the new and highly creative products launched each year. Innovation is fueling the growth in the natural channel. It is also what creates excitement for consumers and encourages them to shop natural stores and buy natural brands.
The 20 percent of items referenced above should be used to differentiate the retailer from their competition, leveraged to communicate the retailer’s unique niche in the market. This gives the retailer an opportunity to brand themselves as the market leader in specialty food, ethnic food, whole food supplements, pet food, raw, gluten free, etc.
Treat your store as a laboratory
Experiment with new items to keep the selection fresh and exciting. One strategy to drive excitement and increase foot traffic is to rotate specialty items into your existing assortment. This allows the retailer to “test” shoppers reactions to the new items before committing to full regular distribution.
One strategic idea is to merchandise items traditionally featured during a holiday with complementary specialty items. For example, the traditionally massive chip display on Memorial Day could also include specialty hot sauces, dips and marinades. This might also be a great opportunity for the retailer to incorporate locally produced items in displays.
Retailers and manufacture’s should work closely together to develop product assortments that will help draw shoppers. Experimenting with a portion of your assortment is a great way to continually keep your merchandising fresh and exciting.
How do you showcase your unique and specialty items?