How Elite Supps Maintains a Consistent Shopping Experience Across 35+ Stores

Elite Supplements (aka Elite Supps) is a health and fitness supplement business with 35+ stores across Australia. 

Elite Supps has thrived over the last several years and continues to grow. In fact, the business is in the process of establishing 5 more stores! But what’s truly impressive is how Elite Supps makes customers feel like family, no matter where or how they’re shopping. 

“One thing we can’t stress enough is the fact that we have been family-owned since day 1,” says Miki Giampaolo, Operations Manager at Elite Supps.

“We really infuse the feeling of family across our entire brand. We don’t look at our customers as customers, they are members of the Elite Supps family, just like our team leaders in-store, all the way to our customer success team online and our warehouse pick packers — family is very important to us.”

We caught up with Miki and asked him to share the retail best practices that Elite Supps’ team members implement. 

Have a look at his answers below.

1. What’s the story behind Elite Supplements?

Elite Supps got started in 2005. It actually started as a small store inside a gym in Canberra of the ACT. It was quite popular, so the business branched out to a shop front presence in our city CBD. 

At that time, business was steady but nothing explosive.

A few years later was when we started expanding our presence into different states. And once we started to do that, I think that the brand transitioned from a small local supplement store to a more national brand with a larger interstate presence. 

With the development of our online presence, the brand became much stronger and more recognized in our industry and we transitioned from being supplements strictly to becoming a health & lifestyle brand

And, honestly, the last three or four years have seen us rise to be one of the most recognized supplement lifestyle companies in Australia.

The big thing for us was, from a cultural and demographic standpoint, health and fitness was one thing that was growing quite quickly, and it was a complimentary business to add into a gym quite easily. 

The demand was there for supplements, but it went from being something that only gym junkies or big bodybuilders would support to something bigger, as the industry expanded. 

Overtime, we came to realise that our client base was not just the gym junkie. We cater to a much wider range of everyday people — whether it was a mom who needs more energy or a dad who wants to trim a few kilos before him and his wife go on their 20th wedding anniversary, or it’s the young kid who wants to build up a little because he’s about to go and play a representative sport. 

2. What makes Elite Supplements unique? How do you keep customers coming back?

One thing that we really try and focus on — and I think what really helps us differentiate ourselves in comparison to the other respected players in our industry — is that we are very, very customer-oriented. And the pivotal point of that is, it’s being encompassed around service and experience. 

That’s been huge, especially in an industry where there’s asymmetric information. And I think everyone can relate to this. If you go to a mechanic or an accountant, it’s clear that the person you’re speaking to has got much more information and knowledge about the problem that you’re trying to solve.

And unfortunately, at times you can have bad reputations in those industries. People get taken advantage of; if you’ve got one small problem in your car, a mechanic can tell you there are eight problems. And instead of you paying maybe $100 for something, they’re now charging you $1,000. 

That’s one thing that we’ve really tried to steer away from and make sure that our reputation is enveloped around being service-oriented.

If someone comes in and they’re not ready for a product or they’re asking for something and we don’t think that it’s suitable, we will turn a customer away or we’ll say for example, “Hey, you think that you need this, but we actually think that you need that.” Our approach this way is built into creating a lifelong customer relationship, not maximising a one off sale.

I think that has been crucial in our long-term customer satisfaction and our development of customers who have been a big part of our family for many, many years now.

That service side of things has been a very important point of keeping people coming back. 

Another thing that’s unique about our stores is they don’t look like supplement stores. They don’t look big and scary, and there’s not a big muscly man behind the counter who appears unapproachable.

Our stores have a very positive vibe. We’ve always got music playing, they’re always high energy, there’s always a great atmosphere. The person behind the counter is an everyday person. We’re relatable. 

Those are the things that people like, because they’re speaking to a “real person” who’s relatable and has the same problems that our customers do. I think that’s another factor that people would like as well. 

3. What are some of the challenges that come with running multiple stores and how do you overcome them in your business?

One thing that we have a challenge with running multiple outlets is stock continuity. It’s great that people can look at inventory in each other’s stores, but at the end of the day, that also comes down to the accuracy of the data being put in. You could put all the measures in place to try and prevent that. But when you’re dealing with humans, there’s always going to be human error. 

For example, if a customer’s in shop A and they say, “Hey, I might go to shop B if they have it.” We call the store, and if they say they have the item, we tell the shopper to head on over to the other shop. But when the customer goes there, they might see that the product actually isn’t in stock.  

And that’s obviously a problem that we find running across the multiple outlets. But I guess it’s with everyone, in every business who runs multiple outlets.

One of the ways that we address stock continuity is by interval-based ordering practices. Rather than ordering when “things are getting low” we order at fixed time intervals to keep a consistent supply. We also over-order class A stock that attributes the most sales because we know from the reporting data in Vend that those products will sell.

Last but not least, as it exists in every growing brand — the challenge of communication, being aligned on the same promotional offerings and consistency in our service and standards. But I do not believe that problem is unique to us, it’s everywhere.

4. Are you using any add-ons or integrations with Vend?

Custom integration for mobile receipts

We had a developer work with Vend’s open APIs to build a receipt sending service, which helps us to get receipts to customers’ mobile phones. That has been great because it’s a good customer experience and we’re trying to align our brand to be more environmentally friendly. 

Marsello

We also just integrated with Marsello. We have 17 outlets trialling Vend at the moment and we’ll be at about 22 outlets on Vend in the next three to four months, which is going to be incredible for us to not only onboard a loyalty program that we can use to identify and reward the brand’s top shoppers. 

We can get to know our best customers and find ways to give back to those people who have invested in our family. They’re a big part of our brand. 

At the same time, we can identify customers who maybe haven’t shopped for a long time. From there, we can figure out ways to get these people back into our stores. 

It’s been especially pivotal throughout this period when complementary industries like gyms were closed. Marsello is going to be really, really helpful in being able to bring lapsed customers back in-store and understanding where they’ve been, what’s been happening.

We know COVID steered some people off track with their health and fitness journeys, and using the system to invite them back is important to us. So we’re looking forward to making that a big part of our business and really making rewards a huge part of what we do.

Product recommendations on the sell screen

We’re trying to develop a product recommendation feature on the sell screen. And we don’t want it to be a sales or an upselling device, but we actually want it to be based on each customer’s demographic.

In the system, it could say that the customer is a male and that they’re 46 years old. Based on what they’ve got in their basket already or based on their demographic, what are the common products that people their age are purchasing? 

We want to get that information in a fast, easy, visible manner to our people behind the counter to empower that sales process.

What’s your favorite Vend feature?

I do have to say that just the reporting feature is leaps and bounds above where we were before. It’s hugely important to be able to see the big picture. 

We can go, “Okay, as an entire group, how did our stores perform this week versus last week or that month versus that month?”

Then the ability to go from the big picture to diving right down into a microscopic level, is fantastic. “Okay, in this store, on this day, with that person behind the counter, how much were they discounting?” We’re big on creating value in our service & relationships, not discounting to generate sales, so having that granularity is really helpful.

You can slide all the way from diving right down into the micro level, all the way to zooming out in the macro level.

Being able to do that in a very user-friendly manner is important, and that was one big point for us of why we chose Vend over a couple of other point-of-sale systems

And for us, visibility drives accountability. If you can’t see how you’re performing, or you can’t see performance changes over time, then you can’t measure them or we can’t manage them. 

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Also, I know that it’s not a Vend-specific feature, but now that we’ve integrated with Marsello, being able to get customer feedback surveys is going to be crucial for us, which is why we’re very excited to start using it quite heavily.

Lastly, another one that I really liked so far is the Promotions Helper. It helps keep our alignment with running multiple stores. When there are promotions running, it helps us give staff a nudge or reminder of active offers. 

That one’s been very helpful as well.

Learn more about Elite Supps and the brand’s amazing products www.elitesupps.com.au.

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.