The past decade has demonstrated enormous growth in the natural food and supplement market. The supplement category grew from $10 billion to $45 billion in under 10 years while the natural food category grew at an even greater pace with vegan, keto, paleo, prepared and clean foods leading consumer choices.
Although online shopping still causes the most angst among independent retailers, it really is the mass market that has taken the lead in natural health. Conventional grocery, pharmacy and big box stores now have over 55 per cent of the entire natural health product (NHP) category while online is still relatively small at four per cent.
Why should consumers still shop in health food stores when mass is more convenient and online appears so much cheaper? What is so special about a natural health food store? Why do customers return? It is the people working in the natural health food stores that keep people coming back, as they truly care about making a difference in the health of the customer’s life!
Over the past several months, as a business ambassador with Natural Factors/Assured, I have had the pleasure to train over 300 staff, managers and owners on customer service, merchandising, promotions and management. These are some of the visions I took to the trainings.
VISION #1 - CARE
In a recent article, I suggested it is primarily women working in health stores, taking the time and effort to study and learn about natural health foods and medicines. They are the true caregivers in our society. They teach the local women – who make 75 per cent of the family health decisions – about the benefits and safe solutions of natural health products. What other business in your community has staff who listen with care while helping guide people to a healthier lifestyle?
VISION #2 - EDUCATION
Whether you own a store in a high-density neighbourhood or a small community, you MUST take the lead to educate the local community on the benefits and solutions of the products you sell.
Also educate on the fact that health stores have had no serious health incidents and zero deaths from vitamins. What we sell is safe and has been for 60 years. Who else will educate the local community on organic, zero waste, homeopathy, vitamins, and botancials if not YOU?! The media? Government? Google? As if. You must control the message of natural health in your community.
VISION #3 - BRING THEM BACK
I was taught early on in my retail career to always consider the following: How do you know the customer will ever come back? What can you do to increase your chances? How they feel when they walk out the door is always the number one consideration. However, you must stay connected. Always collect a customer’s contact information.
If you find customer counts are lower, perhaps create a one-month in-store coupon. When a customer spends a specific amount, say $50 or more, you give a three dollar coupon for their next visit. “Thank you for shopping with us today. Here is a $3 coupon as a gift off your next visit.” Remember, they may be in the store now, but how can you encourage them to come back?
VISION #4 - COUNTER ATTACK
Most of us have gone to a store like Winners where the impulse aisle is 100 feet long. I have read that if impulse shopping ended, the economy would collapse, with more large retailers depending on impulse as the profit generator. The checkout counter is the perfect place for an impulse sale. It should be under $9.95. Pick a good general solution like sleep, cold and flu, stress, anxiety or digestion.
Have a staff member trained to point out the special – “If you have trouble sleeping, we have a special on XYZ.” During cold and flu season, the staff member could say, “Do you have enough vitamin D on hand?”
One retailer shared with me that in a regular month, sales of a particular brand of product was 44 bottles. By training the staff to suggest an offer at the counter, they were able to bump it up and sell 1,300 bottles in a month!
VISION #5 - WHAT YOU DO IS VITAL TO YOUR COMMUNITY
It seems Health Canada believes clinical trials should be required to justify the claims made for natural medicine. Please read or go online and find out the truth about clinical trials. Become educated on the limited – if even true – results of a drug trial compared to 60+ years of safety with vitamins, minerals, homeopathics, botanicals, super foods, etc. as sold across Canada, in local health stores, for generations with NO serious side effects.
BE LOUD, PASSIONATE and PERSISTENT with the wellness message and products you provide, and if you are loud enough, someone just might hear you and change their life for the better.