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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Add alternative merchandise to your natural products store for spring

Bill Crawford
Diversifying your product mix with things like apparel or lifestyle accessories may allow you to offer unique and different items that provide great value and convenience to customers.

As the season (finally) changes from winter to spring, sales opportunities in the natural and organic channel abound! Sun care, healthy chilled beverages for on-the-go shoppers, products for outdoor grilling, natural allergy remedies and much, much more.

However, if you have never ventured outside the standard mix of products, this might be a time to try it. Up front, I want to be absolutely clear that you never, ever, want to lose your focus and emphasis on natural and organic products, period. That is your calling card, your unique value proposition, your identity, your bread and butter. For many others who merely dabble in this category, it is a sideline, a supplemental category. For you, it is your lifeline.

Nonetheless, there are other products that your customers are buying that are consistent with a natural and healthy lifestyle. Wise supplementation of your product mix may allow you to offer unique and different products that your customers will find to be of great value — and the sales of them will add to both your top and bottom lines.

Recently I saw some very cool “stroller enhancement products” from Diono.  They included things like sun and insect nets, expandable shade canopies and in-stroller fans. If you have shoppers that are active young mothers, items like this may help them keep their little ones comfortable while out and about. Some stores have done well selling local and national magazines, CD’s and eyewear, both sunglasses and reading glasses. Have you tried apparel? You can get compact racks of all organic T-shirts; they look great and offer incredible comfort. Some companies offer great-looking and eco-friendly canteens and water bottles. Some of the new designs from SIGG caught my eye when visiting stores the other day.

Of course, when getting into alternative categories and items like these, you need to buy carefully and monitor sales closely, or any benefits that you may gain would evaporate quickly. However, if you buy them wisely and merchandise them well, some non-traditional items can be turn into nice incremental sales for you.

Have you tried selling any "outside of the norm" products? What success stories or words of caution would you offer to other natural retailers?

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