Before CBD took off, were you uneasy about the future of your business?
It seems like everyone has jumped on the CBD trend in the last year. Stores are popping up left and right that just sell CBD products, major pharmacy chains have joined in, not to mention all of the health food stores that are carrying it. As exciting as it is to have a new product that is in high demand and provides great amounts of revenue, it’s important to ask the question, “Is hemp a savior for the industry, or is it a life vest?”
It’s easy to believe that hemp is the savior of health food stores. It is a revolutionary substance that is helping so many, and the amount of sales it’s generating is like nothing we’ve seen in a very long time. That’s why everyone is sprinting to get some skin in the game. However, we need to take a step back and see that as much as we’d like to think it’s the savior some of our struggling stores have been looking for, it is actually more of a life vest.
If you answered “yes” to the question of feeling worried about your business before the CBD boom, then now is the time to hold on to the life vest of CBD but make some changes too. If after you started carrying CBD you haven’t started eliminating brands from your store that don’t have a solid MAP policy, further made a name for yourself as the health expert in your community, made solid community and brand partnerships, etc. then you should still be worried about the state of your business in a few years. CBD cannot, and will not, sustain your business long term.
So, how do you cling to the life vest and enjoy it while it lasts but not depend on it forever? You must do the following steps while things are booming to ensure that your community knows that you are the experts in the health and nutrition field and frequents your location buying a vast variety of your goods.
- Be prepared to transform digitally. If your store is not selling online already or planning on it in the next year or two, then you really need to evaluate your plans for future success. The digital age is now and if you’re not ready to change with the trends then you’re going to struggle. If you think Amazon is a concern today, get ready because the game is just getting started. Our culture is being shaped by Amazon and Google. No matter how we feel about it, digital seamlessness into our lives is going to be an expectation for humans living in the developed world. Everyone, is slowly conforming to these new ways of life. Just think of how many of us would have hopped in the car with a stranger just a few years ago, but now we have UBER. There are so many examples to list and again, it is just beginning. Now, don’t panic. I am not saying every store needs to be cutting edge with digital, but we must be respectable and available. Every store needs to have product available for purchase with features like delivery and in-store pick up. The site needs to be easy to navigate and function on mobile. There are small details that must be there that I could go on about all day, but at the end of the day it must feel and function well to your customer and at the same time be a good representation of your store.
- Offer free education. Do this for a variety of subjects in a regular basis. You need to be explaining the facts to your customers and building a relationship of trust. Offer lectures, do staff trainings, share your knowledge on social media. Become the expert and stand above the competition. The natural products industry will last because people come to us looking for answers. Make sure we can deliver and help them in the best way possible. Make sure you have a top tier staff and show off your knowledge and processes. Everything you do in regards to research and quality needs to be branded and communicated to your customers and staff as why they should see you as the place for health and wellness information.
- Partner with the best brands. If you are unwilling to cut brands that don’t have an enforced MAP policy, you are only hurting yourself. Customers price shop and if you can’t be competitive with Amazon, then those brands don’t need to be in your store. There are so many brands that are supporting independents, and you don’t need to settle for less than a great partnership. If you only have a ‘few’ brands that are non-compliant and think that’s okay, think again. Say a customer comes in and happens to pick up one of those items, they pull out their phone to see that you are double the price than Amazon! Kiss that customer (and potentially all their friends) goodbye. Is it fair, no? But that is the mentality of many customers today walking your floors. Don’t see them on their phones that much? It doesn’t matter. How many times have you simply thought of an item and it magically appears on Facebook or Amazon, begging you to buy it? The same happens to your customers and it is just a matter of time before they will see the items you carry that are drastically higher than competitors. I know there are some things that can’t be cut. For those items, you must be vigilant that you have a close price to the internet giants. Suck it up and take a deeper cut on those items but eliminate as much as you can of that brand before cutting prices.
- Offer services in addition to products. You can have a beautiful store with the best products but if you’re not offering additional incentives for customers to come back, you may lose out to convenience (yet another reason to also sell online). Offering services to customers to improve their health can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but needs to be available to your community. Each store should have their own services to best serve their customers, whether that be weight loss programs, fitness plans, health coaching, practitioners on site, or other things. It’s important to find out what your customers want and need and do your best to offer those things to them.
The future of natural products retail is not something to fear IF you take the proper steps to ensure that your store has what it takes to survive. Enjoy the boost in sales right now from CBD, but please do not make the mistake of staking your success on it. For more information or questions, please make sure to reach out to me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.