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Winter 2015

30 years and counting

Only Natural has been trading in Wexford for 30 years, and its owner, Gerald Colfer, shows no signs of slowing down. We find out how he’s survived the ups and downs of retailing – and the economy!

Gerald Colfer and his team at Only Natural in Wexford spent this October celebrating 30 years in business. This is no mean feat, and it’s fascinating to hear how Gerald has navigated not just the ups and downs of health store retailing over the last three decades, but also the roller coaster ride that has been the Irish economy in recent years. He puts the store’s success and longevity down to a combination of support from customers and the passion and expertise of the store’s team. ‘We have a big customer base, and a very loyal one,’ Gerald explains.

‘I’ve always been grateful for that, and I don’t take it for granted. Customer service is at the very heart of our business, and that’s what saved us from going under when things were difficult. When you’ve been through as many ups and downs as we have at Only Natural, you become aware that great relationships with customers are the most important thing.’

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Retail Focus: Skincare & Bodycare

Kate Segal explains how natural skincare is part of her holistic approach to health retailing

The crux of our store is educating and helping our customers. I’m a nutritional therapist, and I love the fact that my customers might come in with one health issue, but then end up learning about how to make themselves healthier in a whole variety of ways. The name of the store is ‘Inside Out Health’ because we believe in taking a holistic approach to health. We look at the whole person, from what they eat and the supplements that they take to how much they exercise and how they relax. Of course this means that if you want to live a natural, healthy lifestyle, you need to be looking at what household products you use, and what products you put on your skin.

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Retail Focus: Sports Nutrition

James Dobell has made traditional health foods and sports nutrition into a winning combination

I used to work in our family store, Armstrong’s Health Store in Hanley, so my background is in traditional health food retailing. I wanted to combine selling traditional health food supplements with fitness and sports nutrition, but on a larger scale. It seemed like this wasn’t a thing that anyone was really doing, and I felt that there was a real gap in the market. There’s definitely a growing market in sports nutrition and fitness. You imagine young lads who want to get muscley, but it’s actually all kinds of different people, men and women, and all different ages, who are interested in fitness and nutrition these days. We are not a bodybuilding shop, I was very keen to avoid being pigeonholed in that way and ensure that people who want to buy more mainstream supplements and wholefoods would still feel welcome to shop here.

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Autumn 2015

Sales and Marketing: Give and you shall receive

Mark Hubbard, co-owner and manager of Fodder in Hereford, tells us how an open-minded approach to sales and marketing has reaped speedy rewards

Phillip and I took over Fodder right at the end of September 2014. The shop has been here for 30 years, and already had a loyal band of customers, but we knew that we could do more, and make the store better. I’d worked in the shop for five years a few years ago, and we actually tried to buy the shop previously, the last time it was up for sale.

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Summer 2015

Retail Focus: Natural Baby

Rachel Blomfield, Co-General Manager of Archie Browns in Truro, shares her experience of the baby health and skincare sector

When it comes to buying natural baby and child products, there are two groups of customers: those who have always used natural products and want to use the same on their babies; and those who haven’t been very ‘natural’ in the past but don’t want to use chemicals on the skin of someone so tiny and precious! Some come in looking for products that they have read about or that friends have recommended, and others are looking for advice and direction, which we are always happy to give.

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Retail Focus: Free-From

Julie Goodwin, owner of Natural Health, shares her tips for success when it comes to selling free-from foods

I first took over Natural Health back in 1997, and the free-from market has definitely had its ups and downs between then and now.

To begin with, we had an entire bay selling free-from foods. Supermarkets didn’t sell these products, so if customers had coeliac disease or sensitivity to dairy products, gluten or wheat, a health food store was their first port of call. In those days, gluten-free products were our biggest sellers. But then in the late nineties and early noughties, it became more and more common for supermarkets to stock dairy-free and gluten-free foods, so our sales dropped dramatically. We discontinued lots and lots of products and ranges, because they just weren’t making any money for us.

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Law for Retailers

The timing of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 – it gained Royal Assent on 26 March this year, and as such is now law – left cynics passing it off as little more than pre-election propaganda and lip service to the issues surrounding zero-hours contracts.

However, like it or not, the new law has far-reaching and important implications for small- and medium-sized retailers.

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Spring 2015

Retail Focus: Women's Health

Louise Seddon, chief manageress at Chorley Health Food Store, addresses the importance of catering for the specific needs of female customers.

We have a lot of female customers, so while it’s important to stock products that are suitable for all genders and all ages, we also need to make sure we are catering for the needs of the women that shop here. We occasionally get customers who are embarrassed about bringing up women’s problems, but not often, and we have a seating area where we can have a chat if someone seems uncomfortable discussing it at the counter.

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Winter 2014

Retail Focus: Confectionery and Snacks. Healthy confectionery is a very dynamic market, and there are lots of new products around, often reflecting current trends.

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Autumn 2014

Immune health: Demand for immune health products and support begins to build from September.

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Summer 2014

Coupon Cravings: The coupon craze has reached new heights. Money-off coupons are now being redeemed by consumers in record volumes.

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Spring 2014

Local Zone: Even the supermarkets are targeting your area with localised marketing

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Read other Sales and Marketing Articles here: 2013 | 2012