Are You Fully Available to Your Customers?

Written for CHNR Nov/Dec 2022 issue, By: Matt Taylor, Director of Insights  

It’s not just your store schedule and location. According to Byron Sharp, professor of marketing science and author of How Brands Grow, Physical Availability is a critical component of growth. What is it? Find out how it works and 3 ways to build it for your store.

Are You Fully Physically Available?

It takes more ways than one.

A strong brand without a product (or service) is a waste of potential. Time, energy and resources were invested to build an asset that can’t convert to cash. However, as a retailer, it’s unlikely you have nothing to sell. So, let’s focus on a different question: are you selling the right things?

According to Byron Sharp, professor of marketing science and author of How Brands Grow, Physical Availability is a critical component of brand growth. What is it? Put simply, it’s how easily a potential buyer can find and buy from you. 

When it comes to a retail business, physical availability starts with the location of your store. But it’s also found in the assortment of brands and products you sell. Because, if shoppers can’t find what they want, they can’t buy it. (What a groundbreaking concept!)

  • Deliver on and reinforce your brand position (e.g.: quality, variety, healthy)
  • Drive store traffic through mental availability (the more brands and products you’re known for, the more occasions you’ll come to mind)
  • Increase browsing & basket building through discovery and unplanned purchase

Let’s take this idea a little further. The brands and products you put on your shelves have the power to build your brand and cash in on its equity.

They can:

If you think Physical Availability is an opportunity for your store, take a fresh look at your assortment. 

1 – Fill Needs

As a natural retailer, you likely started from a desire to give customers what they needed and couldn’t find elsewhere. While our hyper-competitive world makes things more available, the educational approach of your store still means “Needs” are the first ingredient to a winning assortment.

2 – Fill Wants

Your store is a gateway to the cool, trending and cutting edge of natural health. These are the products they’re already aware of and asking for, or that you know they’ll want when they see them.

3 – Fill Holes

Once you optimize your core assortment on needs and wants, it’s time to branch out to fill holes (a.k.a leakage). Your customers buy brands, products, flavours, formats and sizes you don’t offer. These people are already in your store, but they just can’t buy it from you.

Your customers shop around and there’s no way to stop it. But with the right assortment—filling needs, wants and holes—you can increase your Physical Availability, helping more people find more of what they want…and spend more of their money with you.

About the author

Matt Taylor

Matt Taylor is the Director of Insights for Jamieson Wellness and has been in the natural products industry since 2005. The opinions expressed are his own and not necessarily those of the company. You can reach Matt at

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