Natural companies offer unique products that meet specific market needs and provide cutting-edge solutions that are leading the way in “better for you” product acceptance and adoption. Now, more than ever, an opportunity exists for natural to take the leadership role in this area. While conventional retailers are increasingly carrying natural products and jumping onto natural trends like gluten-free, natural retailers have a better connection to their consumers and can be more nimble in responding to their needs. They can use this advantage to differentiate themselves from the big guys.
So how exactly do natural retailers get ahead in this new environment?
Stock the items customers expect. Every shopping trip must absolutely leave a favorable impression given the number of retail choices shoppers have today. Nothing is more frustrating for consumers than to find out of stocks (especially on advertised sale items). Bottom-ranked items that virtually nobody is buying frequently take the place of absent top-selling items, forcing consumers to shop other retailers just to find what they are looking for. Just like other shoppers, if I can’t easily find what I need, I will go to another store, and as the expression goes, “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression."
Broaden your horizons. Focusing only on customers that completely embrace your mission will not generate enough sales to stay in business. Retailers need to appeal to a much broader audience to keep their doors open. They must focus on increasing foot traffic (the number of shoppers that enter their store) and Market Basket size (the amount each shopper buys while in their store). As more people start to embrace a better-for-you-lifestyle, they will continue to go to mainstream grocery stores if they can find what they're looking for. Natural retailers cannot sit back and watch this trend play out. They need to take advantage of the growing number of consumers that are interested in natural and organic products. This is their opportunity to capitalize on the trend natural retailers themselves started and bring those consumers back into the fold they created.
Competitively price key items. Natural retailers can attract new customers by carrying top-selling natural items at prices that are competitive with the Safeways and Krogers of the world. If key products are priced similarly, consumers will assume prices are competitive throughout the store and start looking around, which allows the natural retailer to impress them with all the store has to offer. Competitive pricing starts with creating efficiencies in the distribution system that allows a retailer to lower prices without huge sacrifices in margins.
Impress new customers with exceptional service. Every new shopper who enters your store should be treated as an opportunity to showcase your passion for healthy living. If you don’t have the item they are looking for, recommend a quality substitute. Exceptional customer service encourages repeat purchases. Satisfied customers share their experiences with their friends. Doing this will drive additional traffic into your store and give you an opportunity to introduce new shoppers to the unique products that you feature.
Imagine a strategy that grows sales by meeting your customer’s needs and exceeding their expectations. This strategy is perfect for natural retailers because they already expertly support natural and organic products, they are not restricted by large corporate bureaucracies, they are innovative and are able to adapt to consumer needs. Your store can become the source and destination for new and trending items. The increased foot traffic can then help you develop a new trust relationship with your customers, which can in turn, lead to a larger Market Basket and greater profits.
Not a bad trade off for a little extra effort, a little extra postage, and a targeted marketing strategy!