Alex LaVilla, Liane Smith and Gabriel Maki
represent the buying team at Swansons Nursery.
The green goods buying team at Swansons Nursery includes Alex LaVilla (perennials), Liane Smith (annuals and seasonal color) and Gabriel Maki (woody trees and shrubs). Two weeks ago, the three buyers shared 11 ways growers can improve from a retail perspective. This week, we share another list from Swansons Nursery – this one featuring 12 things growers can do to enhance their relationships with retailers.
1. Custom grow specialty products for niche markets.
2. Establish inventory partnerships with guaranteed sales for bulk purchases to move more plants.
3. Establish discount partnerships during a garden center’s sale periods to help move more product.
4. Know the current market. Be aware of the old standard best sellers, but don’t be afraid to offer newer introductions to test the market and see what the new standards will be.
5. Improve your invoicing by line item. Invoices should be a customer service tool for the independent garden center and not for the grower’s internal accounting purposes. No more listing “premium 4-inch annual” or “premium 1-gallon perennials,” please.
6. Share your plans for the upcoming season, including new varieties, what’s working well for you and what you are changing. How can we both work together to be better partners?
7. Work together with retailers on inventory control. Send extras on trucks that can be added to our order if desired. Alternatively, if you know you’ll be long on something, call to see if we’d like to run a special on them while the plants are still looking good. Selling a big block of plants at a smaller margin is better than adding them to the compost pile.
8. Solicit suggestions for what else you might grow. Independents are a direct line to what the customer is asking for.
9. Get out there and tour garden centers so you know what other growers are able to achieve and which plants and sizes independents are offering. Ask how and when garden centers offer them. You may be surprised at what other growers are achieving in terms of plant readiness relative to time of year, number of flowers, plant size and shape.
10. Figure out how to ship to retailers quickly and predictably. Is it possible to partner up with other local growers for more frequent, consolidated shipping to certain regions?
11. Give retailers ways they do not have to be burdened by products they don’t want or cannot sell. Retailers know it costs growers money to return product. They work with numerous product returns and replacements every day from their own customers. Arguing and not correcting the situation is not helpful. If the return process costs retailers even more in time and worry, retailers are likely to find other resources.
12. Invest in detailed and continuous availability lists with crop notes.