Ordinary or Extraordinary

SENPA, Natural Products Association, Southeast Natural Products Association, Michelle DuFresne

Our marketplace is changing…what feels like daily. Natural and organic offerings are exploding in places you would have never thought as consumers look for those “better for you choices”. Airports, convenience stores, drug stores, mainstream grocery chains, big box stores and E-tailers are jumping at the opportunity to grab your customers and their wallets.

It’s not easy to compete. It takes commitment and hard work. It takes strategy and sometimes, a little luck. What will keep your customers coming back and telling others? An EXTRAORDINARY experience in your store.

Last week I took my car in for a routine maintenance at the dealership I purchased the car from 8 years ago. Yes, I could have found a different repair option that would have saved me a few dollars but I chose to go back. Why, because of repeatedly extraordinary service. Larry, my service advisor, makes me feel welcomed. We laugh together. He follows through on what he says will happen.  On one visit he noticed that my gas tank was low so he topped it off. Seriously? And last week, he picked out a special loaner model that he thought I might enjoy driving because he knew I was interested in that specific model. As a result, he has a loyal customer that gives glowing reviews and encourages others to go to MY dealership.

Here are a few things to consider in creating the extraordinary experience for your customers:

  • Competitively Priced – Notice I didn’t say the LOWEST price. Lowest price doesn’t always win when you can consistently provide a place where people love to shop. Customer service at its best can often offset a higher price.
  • Proper Product Assortment – Are you keeping up with the trends? Are you keeping up with what’s HOT and do you know when it’s not? Understanding what categories is growing (or shrinking) will help you determine where you should invest your inventory dollars. Update the assortment and know when to discontinue an item. Your shelf space is precious. Fill it with products that are interesting, on trend and sell!
  • Treasure Hunt or Excavation – When customers enter your store, is it clean, organized, properly signed and priced? Do you have eye-catching endcaps and displays or are they half-empty and cluttered? Do you have clever cross-merchandising that would encourage an impulse purchase? Are there new and exciting products displayed with proper signage? Move away from “same ole same ole” and into “WOW”!
  • Educated Staff – This is likely the most differentiating opportunity to compete against the more mainstream retailers. Does your staff know your products? Can they articulate the benefits or make meaningful suggestions? Is it a regular priority to create those learning moments for your staff? SENPA along with your supporters (brokers, manufacturers and distributors) provide excellent opportunities for training.
  • Courteous and engaging – Smile and treat them like they are the most important individual in your store at that moment – it seems simple until its hectic in the store, you’re short-handed and you are desperately needing that “Calgon take me away” moment. Engage them in conversation. Find a simple connection. Acknowledge them as a loyal shopper (or perhaps a new shopper). Take notice of what is in their basket. Ask their opinion about something specific in your store. Make them feel important and welcomed.

These ideas are not new. Matter of fact they are not revolutionary. They are what it takes to turn an ordinary experience into something extraordinary!

MichelleDuFresneMichelle DuFresne is the President elect of the Natural Products Association South East region and Vice President of Chains at KeHe Distributors East region.



NOTE: The opinions expressed in bylined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher.

Posted on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 6/22/2016