Give shoppers a condition-specific roadmap to garner add-on purchases and store loyalty!

October 8, 2014By Behind the Shelf Blog, Future of Retail

By Jen Johnston

My preschooler has a medical condition called fructose malabsorption. (It is a condition that may affect up to 33% of people, although most don’t realize it.)

Like many medical conditions, there are a lot of ins and outs – especially ingredients that are off limits. This goes for food (no agave nectar, apple juice, etc.), medicine (no sucralose, fructose, etc.), and personal care products like toothpaste (no xylitol, sorbitol, etc.).

Going to multiple stores in search of safe products is a pain in the you-know-where. I want to shop by his condition online or be able to print off a condition-specific roadmap to where things are located in-store.

I typed online shopping by conditionI thought surely there must be a retailer that has latched onto the concept of shopping by condition and organized the shopping experience accordingly. After all, there are hundreds of conditions experienced by people in the U.S. and loads of condition-appropriate products that currently reside in disparate locations both in brick-and-mortar stores and online.

I decided to type “online grocery shopping fructose malabsorption” into a Google search and no stores popped up. Not a big surprise – the condition has just recently become better known in this country.

So, then I searched more generally by the phrases “online grocery shopping by condition” and “online OTC shopping by condition.” Still no hits.

Perhaps my searches are still too specific, I thought. So, I typed “online shopping by condition.” Nothing – no stores on the first couple pages of hits. “Shopping by condition” garnered nothing as well.

Finally, I came across this printable list by Kate Scarlata, a fructose malabsorption expert, which was a big help, but how many online and brick-and-mortar grocery stores would I have to shop to find these different “safe” brands? (Answer – a lot!) And I still can’t find a list of appropriate medicines or personal care products. (I get that from the other moms on the Facebook support group Parents of FructMal Kids USA, but it’s all anecdotal and doesn’t help me at point-of-sale.)

Why couldn’t a store do this legwork for me? I’d be loyal to them in a heartbeat. When you are managing a loved one’s condition, you don’t have time to go from store-to-store. You want a one-stop shop! There are 65.7 million caregivers in this country, and that isn’t counting those managing conditions like my son’s or people managing their own conditions, so there are likely many more people that would benefit from stores that assist in helping people shop by condition.

Maybe fructose malabsorption is still too obscure of a condition. Maybe shopping by diabetes, a condition that affects 29.1 million people in the U.S. would turn up the kind of concept I was looking for. So I typed “online grocery shopping diabetes” and it did bring up this list from Wegman’s stores. That is a fine start, but it still didn’t connect to specific brands people could purchase online or provide a roadmap to where the foods are located in-store. At least Albertson’s is doing in-store tours. I wonder if they hand out a roadmap?

One of the only online retailers I saw that is actually selling by condition is The CareGiver Partnership. They don’t sell groceries or have the condition I was looking for, but they do get the concept.

People managing conditions for themselves or loved ones do not always know everything they need. Be their hero and help them out – you will reap the benefits of add-on purchases and store loyalty.

And if your store ever creates a roadmap for fructose malabsorption, look me up on LinkedIn – I know quite a few moms that will want to shop there!

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