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Why natural retailers and brands should 'put mobile into everything you do'

Retailers must shift from a transactional-based communication strategy to more complete customers solutions as newly empowered shoppers research products and prices online and creating their own supply chains.

Natural brands and manufacturers need to stay relevant in today's ever-changing world if they hope to effectively compete and survive. A strong digital strategy can provide a significant competitive advantage. An effective digital strategy develops and maintains a one-on-one relationship between the brand and the consumer and has the capability of influencing a consumer’s network of friends and family.

As consumers, we are bombarded by an overwhelming amount of information. Everybody is trying to get our attention. The marketplace is extremely crowded, and our attention spans are shorter than ever. Yesterday's news is constantly being eclipsed by whatever is trendy or relevant. Yesterday’s fad is quickly forgotten by today’s “overnight successes” or flavor of the moment. The retailers and brands who capture and keep our attention remain relevant and thus have the greatest opportunity to sell to us and our network of friends.

Natural Products Expo East this year made this phenomenon a priority with an educational session titled Digital Strategies: Using Digital Influences to Sell More Natural Products. The session was led by industry thought leader and expert Bill Bishop from Brick Meets Click.

Bill talked about the newly empowered consumers and raising expectation of shoppers. He said that shoppers today are armed with far more information than any time before in history. In many cases, shoppers are better informed than the retailers themselves. This is the result of shoppers having quick and easy access to a tremendous amount of information at their fingertips—through their smart phones. As a result, consumers can gain information on most any topic at a moment's notice—including while considering product choices at the retailer’s shelf.

Bill talked about webroming as a new phenomenon where consumers are able to research products online before sampling the product at the store, essentially creating their own empowered “supply chain." Specifically, instead of going to one retailer to try to fill their entire shopping basket, consumers now know exactly where to go to find the best deals on the products that they specifically want. "All of the choices before us encourage consumers to look harder for exactly what we want," Bill said. "This creates the need for more personalization”.

Throughout all of my articles, I constantly talk about the importance of encouraging shoppers to make all of their purchases in natural. This happens when shopper needs are met. Bill pointed out that this can be accomplished with a “shift from transactional-based shopper communication” to focusing on “customer solutions." He said that solution selling can increase transition size while driving sales. He recommended that brands build online communities where they can “tell more stories” that help personalize the relationships they cultivate with shoppers. He also recommended that you “put mobile into everything you do"—or speak to consumers where they are and in terms they understand, the same way you talk to a close personal friend.

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