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Transitioning to a New Normal: Effects of COVID-19 on Natural Health Food Stores

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Young woman wearing a blue surgical face mask selects organic juice in a natural health store.

COVID-19 has taken the world by storm. Several months into it, and the virus still isn’t well understood. There is no known cure, and a vaccine has yet to be released.

Some health experts have raised the possibility that COVID-19 will not be wiped out, but will become a common communicable disease that mutates yearly, much like the common flu. Nobody knows what to expect, but consumer behavior shifts are a particular side-effect, and natural health food stores must be prepared.

A New Focus on Health

While scientists still don’t know enough about COVID-19 to produce a cure, one thing is certain: COVID-19 affects people with pre-existing conditions the worst. Because of this, there has been a greater concern among all consumers for their holistic health.

Many consumers are beginning to choose natural remedies and organic foods as a way to protect their health. Everyone has heard the adage: you are what you eat. Consumers are finally beginning to take this to heart and are choosing to turn their attention towards health food stores, which means that natural health stores are experiencing an influx in business.

The New Normal

Natural Health retailers need to prepare for an influx in business and the way consumers are choosing to do business. Online sales are growing experiencing double-digit growth from January to April 2020.

This trend was already in the making, but COVID-19 has increased the speed of this shift. Some shoppers are wary of making in-store purchases, venturing out to physical locations may put them at a greater risk for contracting the virus.

How Health Food Stores Can Adapt

Data is king

One thing that’s more important than ever is the data that you voluntarily receive from your customers. Because modern POS systems track and store customers’ purchasing decisions, you have all the information needed to inform the next steps for your business.

Understanding what your customers are buying is key to identifying and projecting business trends. The Global Organic Food Market is expected to reach a CAGR of 12.4% for the forecast period, according to a report published by ResearchDive. Using data to predict consumer behavior allows businesses such as natural health food stores make better strategic decisions, such as focusing on trends, including the increasing demand for organic foods and rising popularity of immunity boosters and vitamin D supplements.

When you make smarter, data-backed decisions, you can better develop strategies based on proven customer behavior. This helps you deliver exactly what your customers want, rather than resorting to guesses.

Loyalty means everything

Customer loyalty carries a new meaning in 2020. The importance of retaining customers in an unstable economic environment is crucial for retailers in all sectors.

For natural health stores, customers are starting to supplement traditional medicine practices with naturopathic remedies. This is a fantastic opportunity for natural health businesses to win new customers and retain their loyalty with transparency, honesty, and integrity.

Offering a loyalty rewards program can be a successful first step in gaining new loyalty. Rewarding customers for their repeated business shows them that their loyalty and well-being are valued. Plus, it offers you a chance to re-engage inactive customers with deals backed by your POS system’s extensive data archive.

Tighten your inventory  

Natural health stores often conduct business with global supplies that deal with uncommon and specialized ingredients and products. While this was a potential disadvantage to purchasing wholesale inventory, it can be a huge advantage today, as long as your inventory is managed correctly.

Business shut-downs and shipping issues caused by the pandemic, have caused numerous delays, which can negatively impact the customer experience and eventually profits. If you rely on regular shipments of wholesale goods, your business operations could be severely affected.

However, this problem could be a boon to business for natural health stores. With a well-managed inventory, it’s easier for your business to forecast when you might need certain goods and to order accordingly. Having specialized merchandise can add resilience to your business, giving you a greater sense of self-reliance instead of depending on your next shipment to turn a profit.

Plus, a well-managed inventory leads to less waste and enables you to automate purchase orders—both of which cut costs and gives you a greater sense of efficiency.

Expand the reach of your store

With the prevalence of technology, there’s no reason why your business should stagnate. Even a few simple actions can help you reach farther with your products and services, tap into new markets, and expand your reach.

Currently, due to the hindrances of COVID-19, beginning to offer curbside pickup or delivery services is an asset.

From grocery to pharmacy and natural health stores, businesses of all types benefit from providing some form of protected shopping experience to keep their customers healthy and maintain business flow.

Leveraging eCommerce integrations provide the opportunity to find a new market or client base in an area you may have previously thought inaccessible. Think about how your services and products might relate to new customers, and experiment by offering them to these people. Examples include new promotions, discounts, trial products, and straight-up giveaways.

As COVID-19 has shown us time and time again, what seems to be damaging to today’s business climate can prove to be innovative in terms of growing business opportunities. Natural health food stores are no exception to this.

Auto-Star offers innovative point of sale technology designed to meet the natural health industry’s demands to provide a seamless customer experience in and beyond the COVID-era.

Contact us to see how we can help you streamline your inventory processes and reach new heights.

 

 

 

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