Dear Alison’s Pantry reps-
In an effort to address some concerns that have been brought to my attention I thought I would share my response with all of our reps. I really appreciate the opportunity to have an open dialogue with all of you; even if it’s a difficult subject.
So, here’s the problem a lot of our reps are up against-
“I have been price comparing at the local Sam’s here to see why a lot of my customers seem to be getting their groceries somewhere else and I have to admit I am now one of those customers.”
I have to admit when I first read this I felt pretty bad. This certainly isn’t the first time I’ve heard of our pricing being higher than big box stores like Costco, WalMart, and Sam’s Club. We’ve lost some great reps and customers due to low prices at club stores; however, I wanted to address that with everyone today.
Let me be honest with you: Alison’s Pantry will probably never be able to compete on price with the multibillion dollar big box stores. They can buy in product for such a low cost that at times we can buy it from them cheaper than we can directly from our vendors!!! We’re not the only business this is happening to either. Our food brokers are constantly getting complaints from their buyers that they see prices from club stores that are cheaper than what they buy them directly from the vendors. The poor food brokers never know what to say because they and I feel that it’s not fair that a food manufacturer give big box stores a massive discount just because they can buy in huge volumes. It makes us feel like we’re not an important customer.
Unfortunately I can’t control any of that, but I can control my attitude and how I react to problems. I hope you’ll join with me to consider what makes Alison’s Pantry awesome.
1- Alison’s Pantry uses a sales force (representatives) to sell our products. We pay a commission to our sales force for selling our products. You not only receive a discount on everything you buy, but you get paid a commission for everything you sell. Our commission might be lower than other MLM businesses, but how many of those businesses have the repeat customers like we have? With other businesses once you’ve run out of your warm market it becomes extremely difficult to continue selling.
Our product sells itself and everyone needs to eat…….month after month…….after month…..after month…..well, you get the idea. ☺
2- Sam’s Club and Costco both charge you a membership fee where Alison’s Pantry is free. (you have to pay $45 to $100 just to walk in the door) Most customers forget about this cost and while it’s not too expensive, that’s how the club stores make their money.
3- Alison’s Pantry delivers the product to your home whereas you have to drive to the big box stores. Our rural reps have an edge on the competition because it can be a long drive to the nearest club store. Here is an example of a store being 75 miles away: If you use standard mileage tracking of 53.5-cents per mile it’s really costing you $80.25 per trip. I know you may say that you were driving there anyway, but the fact of the matter is that you’re paying for a home delivery with Alison’s Pantry versus having to drive 150 miles. In this situation it’s costing you time and convenience.
4- If your customers don’t have a membership then compared to other similar options like Schwan’s we are much better priced; and believe me not everyone in America has a club membership.
5- Most customers (I know, not all customers) are willing to pay a higher price on products because it helps their neighbor. That’s what Alison’s Pantry was founded on. People like to buy from someone they know because you also provide a service. You have knowledge about the product in how to prepare it and you also provide a social aspect -that if you’ll forgive me for saying so- we’re desperately in need of
in this day and age.
6- Alison’s Pantry is constantly striving to find unique products that you can’t get anywhere else. Most of our products are foodservice which means they are a much higher quality than what you’ll find at other grocery stores. Sometimes there is almost no comparison to our products vs ‘Great Value’ items. The old saying “You get what you pay for” rings very true in those situations. If your customers say that they can purchase this product somewhere else that’s fine, but point out all the other products we have. We stock over 800 items and a good portion of those can’t be found in big box stores. If you have a mentality of: “There’s something for everyone in our catalog” then you’ll have a much easier time selling the product. The reason we spend so much time and effort in training our reps is because it adds value to you and our products. Customers aren’t just buying food; they are buying knowledge and convenience. We pay reps an average commission of 16% and which needs to be added onto the cost of product so we can make a profit. We NEED you to sell the product, but in order to pay you a commission we need to charge more for the product. See how that works? If we didn’t have to pay reps commission and charged a $45 to $100 membership fee our pricing would be quite a bit lower, however, then we wouldn’t have a sales force.
Anyways, hopefully I have explained the difference between Alison’s Pantry and most other big box retailers. I know there are some customers where the only thing they care about is the cost, but that’s not where we can compete. Our reps are our greatest asset, but if you’ve lost the vision of what makes Alison’s Pantry awesome then it might be time to reassess and remember what makes us different. Thanks for your time and I welcome
Joshua Kissee, Co-Owner