As someone who doesn’t have the scientific fluency of the other writers for this site, I frequently approach each month’s topic as an everyman. During the time we covered certifications, one question entered my mind and took up permanent residence.
What about certifications for retailers?
We know that retailers can join trade associations, NPA being perhaps the biggest example. But what about the men and women who are the bridge between your product and a paying customer, the people who are in a position to make recommendations and provide counsel?
Giant shock coming up: as a freelance writer, I have worked my fair share of retail jobs. Another giant shock: the people who work these jobs may lack the passion (and knowledge) that you have. Go to any retail business and the evidence is there first-hand: glazed stares, tons of slouching, spiritless speech delivery, and an utter lack of knowledge regarding the products being sold.
Now, that attitude can slide if a store is selling alarm clocks or dental floss. But supplements are an entirely different story. This concerns people’s health—always a dicey proposition—so a certain amount of knowledge and attention is involved for anyone working in the industry. Otherwise, you get this (from 2010):
If you haven’t done so yet, listen to the recorded conversations. They are amazing for all the wrong reasons.
I asked a few major trade associations if they had any “retailer certification” program so these kinds of accidents don’t happen. CRN, UNPA, and NPA do not, though I did find CRN’s “Roadmap for Retailers” online. (Note: I have reached out to a few other relevant sources. If any add anything noteworthy, I will update the post accordingly. Of course, feel free to comment below.)
Your product may have passed every certification known to man, but an uninformed retailer can undo all that preparation. Sales clerks come and go. Owners might be too busy to delve into the do’s and don’ts of customer conversation. People have a tendency not to listen if they’re being paid not-so great wages.
There is a way to cover your back. In your communication to retailers—email newsletters, brochures, social media---try to include a morsel or two on legal matters every time. It doesn’t have to be a discourse on DSHEA and FTC regulations, just a gentle reminder to tell customers to see a doctor before starting any supplement regimen or to refer them to your favorite studies. The same approach applies for any in-person visits.
It may not be fair, but you must operate under the assumption that the only person who cares about your products is you. That principle must be in place from the assembly line all the way to the store floor.