Natural Foods Merchandiser

Six Things They Hate About You

Everybody likes to offer advice about delighting your customers. Want to know how to hack them off? Read on.

In an effort to find out what consumers consider the most important attributes of store operation—location? service? product assortment?—researchers asked our survey respondents how bothered they would be if things changed at their favorite naturals store.

Respondents said they would drive 10 minutes out of their way to a different store if:

  • They are regularly kept waiting seven minutes or longer at the register
  • Fresh products sit an extra day on the shelf
  • It takes two or more minutes to find a staff person on the store floor
  • Less than 33 percent of staff are knowledgeable about products
  • Less than 75 percent of staff are helpful or friendly
  • Perceived prices go up 10 percent or more.

Price is a major motivator for Thomas Miller of Nashville, Tenn., a young pilot who expects his ability to buy organic to rise as his salary increases. His main complaint about natural and organic products? ?They?re too damn expensive.? Miller says he would buy natural products from his local Wal-Mart if it offered them, because he?s convinced that Wal-Mart offers the lowest price.

Staff knowledgeability and helpfulness also make a difference. Graduate student Kathleen Colenso of Missoula, Mont., distrusts organic and natural brands produced by large corporations that ?steal the language of organic food and turn it into a rhetoric of misguidance.? But she?s loyal to Missoula?s Good Food Store because she feels its employees? commitment to clean products matches hers.

And how to fix those things they hate?

  • Decrease fresh product turnover by one day.
  • Improve the selection within a signature category by three items.
  • Cut the time it takes for a customer to find a staff person to one minute.
  • Ensure that all staff are trained to be both knowledgeable and helpful.
  • Increase the presence of local foods in your store by 10 percent.
  • Adjust the ?price image? by 5 percent through more visible promotions.
  • Align the natural/conventional product mix to your customers' needs.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXV/number 8/p. 16

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