Many retailers are stressed at the thought of what is happening in the health food industry right now. Amazon buying Whole Foods, the erosion of margins with online shopping, and more and more products showing up in the mass market.
If you want to survive as a health food retailer in the next couple decades, you are going to need to do things differently than you did in the past.
To survive, health food stores are going to need to have their own brands that are not available everywhere. To have access to this, health food retailers will need to have a supplier that is giving them brands of products that are not available in the mass market. While you may feel you need some mass market products, your customers are coming to you because you are the trusted advisor. If you have the knowledge to help them address their problems and concerns, they will buy what you put in their hands.
Health food stores who survive the change in the retail environment will have to have specialty niches where they are able to identify their potential customers and offer them specific products to satisfy their needs. Perhaps this is an anti-aging clinic, the men’s testosterone stop, or the skin care centre. This may mean that you will have to do things that you didn’t do in the past: offering services that are difficult to do, or products that are hard to get. Health food retailing will be getting harder, but the creative will thrive.
Millennials, Generation Xers and upcoming generations are going to want the human aspect of retailing that baby boomers had and then some. While we all might be on the computer more, we all crave to be touched, spoken with and humoured. Physical touch and real human presence is hard to experience over the computer. Brick and mortar health food stores will be around as long as they can offer this. Store owners are going to have to encourage their staff to develop meaningful relationships because this is what customers want.
It’s true that 3D is coming to retailing online, but you can’t taste food, feel fabric or smell scents online. Health food retailing is going to need to give customers even more experiences that fill the senses.
It was once the case that you could open a health food store because you wanted to help people have a chance of success. The chance of success now has been significantly reduced. In the past, store owners would spend money in advertising without measuring the results and set margins and price products upon a whim. Look at financials once a year and rely on your accountant to interpret them. Future store owners are going to need to be strategic, cunning and knowledgeable to thrive. Those that understand how business works and how they can create value for their customers, are going to be successful.
Health food retailing is changing but those who can adapt will be able to feed their families, hire great staff, help their customers and contribute to their communities for years to come.