Growers Taking Charge

The relationship between grower and retailer continues to evolve in significant ways. This month, Greenhouse Grower explores aspects of this evolution. In my experience, I have seen the relationships change rather dramatically, in many cases, from the way buyers and sellers typically interacted in the categories. One thing is for sure – in today’s retail buying environment, there are many more demands being placed on growers and suppliers to help manage the supply chain process, especially in the big boxes.

The traditional way of doing business saw growers offering their products to retailers and agreements forged between the two were pretty simple. The buyer would select products and growers primarily for the quality of goods they produced, their ability to be low-cost provider, and ability to bring products to market. Buyers would make items and mix selections, quantities per order or store, shipping dates or periods, advertise if appropriate and process orders. Growers would, in turn, grow the product, tag the plants and meet required shipping parameters for dates and quantities per store.

Retailers would take possession of the product upon receipt, merchandise and maintain the product, sell at full retail to as high a percentage as possible, and then either take intermediate markdowns on products to force out culls or mark down products completely and discard. In many, if not most cases, there would be multiple growers going into the same stores with different items or, in other cases, shipping some of the same items at the same times or at different parts of the season. Many growers did not offer service if programs weren’t guaranteed sale or pay-by-scan. 

Single Sourcing

The bedding plant industry changed fairly dramatically with big box customers and has taken different paths in some cases but has done things in a similar fashion in other ways. One key shift in the way these folks interacted is that many buyers chose to simplify their multiple sources of supply for the category to single sourcing. While they may have, in their minds, sacrificed some flexibility they may have enjoyed with multiple suppliers, they chose to go to single sourcing mainly for accountability purposes. If you have only one supplier in a store, it pretty much narrows down whom to praise or punish for a job well done or otherwise.

The other major positive impact to single sourcing is the logistical advantage of growers taking full product lines to store locations that are closer to their operations. Before this practice, it was pretty typical for a grower to specialize, let’s say in New Guinea Impatiens baskets, and they might ship only that item to 200 to 300 stores for one of the big boxes over a 300-mile radius. Using the single-source method, those same growers may have to broaden their production of items and hypothetically could be shipping 20 items to 50 locations within a 40- or 50-mile radius and do the same dollar volume, if not more. So the efficiency really makes this a positive for growers, provided they can produce the mix that is required. 

The Rise Of Retail Service

An offshoot of the single source of supply was service being injected into the retailers, either through the grower’s own personnel or through a third party. This is one area that has become critical to the retailer in many cases and has become such a factor that it has almost equal importance to the retailer as the plant quality. Service includes merchandisers from supplier or third parties that may unload product, pack out product, sign the plants, water and maintain the plants, cull out plants that are no longer saleable, recycling delivery carts or racks, and so on.

Service personnel can also serve as inventory managers, product flow agents, product selection managers and excellent conduits of information, either back to their grower headquarters and/or directly to the retail operators at store level or buying office to run a better business. 

Managing Retail

Most large-scale growers today have today retail account managers. This is where I have seen a dramatic change from the past. Expectations for these folks have risen steadily as more has been demanded from retail buyers. Today, these folks typically get involved with planning individual store layouts from year to year. They will be influential in analyzing sell-through data by item and by store or region. They most likely will write all orders per the buyer’s request. They are asked to do retail reconnaissance to help the individual buyer better understand the marketplace and how they compare or compete with their competitors in the market.

Account managers typically will be asked to handle retail shops of competitors and will subsequently give advice to the retailer about how they are priced against the competition. They are also being asked to provide all advertising needs for their products through the season. They most likely will be responsible for inventory levels and also sell through on the products.

Some retailers now expect their growers to help them set up and maintain fixtures for displaying the goods in their stores. The retail account manager or service manager may oversee fixture build outs for individual store sets or at least have field area managers reporting back to them on the process. This has become a very important part of the grower and retailer partnership.

Once a selling season passes, the retail account manager typically receives the sales results for stores they supply and will be asked by the buyers to help form a strategy for the following year based on the results. These folks are quite often asked to participate in things like the annual Pack Trials, store walks with operators, program rollout meetings and old fashioned product road shows. They will very often be relationship builders with district or area managers, merchandise managers, buyers and regional vice presidents of operation and merchandising. These retail account managers can be invaluable aids to new buyers who may not have familiarity with the market or the live goods category.

Big box retailers are able to provide extremely accurate and up-to-date information to their grower partners on a daily or even more frequent basis. This is not really new in the last several years, but all three of the bigs are able to give their suppliers the data they can use in making shipping decisions. Traditionally, this information was analyzed by the buyer and then the buyer would instruct the grower what to ship and to whom. Today, there seems to be a much higher trust factor and accountability so that this function is often done jointly, if not predominantly by the grower and that seems to work well for both parties.

The bottom line is that growers have become increasingly savvy operators when it comes to the big guys. There is much more of a business management in the relationships between seller and buyer. Expectations from the retailers have certainly grown dramatically and growers are responding to this changing environment. They have learned to think much more like retailers as they wear the dual hats of supplier and retail managing partners. The business seems to be better for it.

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Growers Taking Charge

  1. Having worked with v.n.while at N.E. in fla., he definitely has watched the retail evolution. a lot of it was his foresight. good job vinny

  2. Having worked with v.n.while at N.E. in fla., he definitely has watched the retail evolution. a lot of it was his foresight. good job vinny

More From Marketing...
GrowIt! Logo

February 9, 2016

GrowIt! And MasterTag Partner To Enhance Plant Care Information On The GrowIt! App

The partnership allows MasterTag to provide plant care instructions to the wide catalog of plants available on GrowIt!, which helps consumers find plants in their area.

Read More

January 27, 2016

Costa Farms’ Season Premier Provides Sneak Peek At New Varieties For 2017

Costa Farms presented the 2016 Season Premier at its 2-acre Trial Gardens in Miami, FL, in the third week of January. The event showcases varieties from breeders of all sizes to growers and major retail buyers, providing a look at what genetics are coming to the market and how they’ll perform in retail settings and in the landscape, when consumers bring them home. The mild winter climate in South Florida allows Costa Farms’ Research and Development Department to simulate the spring growing conditions of various regions in the country. Because each group of visitors to Costa Farms’ Trial Gardens wants to see what the new plants look like in the environments that matter to them, Season Premier offers several areas within the Trial Gardens that highlight different ways to look at the wealth of new varieties. The New Product Showcase offers a way for retailers to see how plants will […]

Read More

January 26, 2016

Beekenkamp And Danziger Partner To Distribute Poinsettias In North America

Danziger is continuing to expand its portfolio of products to the U.S. market with the addition of poinsettia cuttings of Beekenkamp’s varieties.

Read More
Latest Stories
GrowIt! Logo

February 9, 2016

GrowIt! And MasterTag Partner To Enhance Plant Care Inf…

The partnership allows MasterTag to provide plant care instructions to the wide catalog of plants available on GrowIt!, which helps consumers find plants in their area.

Read More

January 27, 2016

Costa Farms’ Season Premier Provides Sneak Peek A…

Costa Farms presented the 2016 Season Premier at its 2-acre Trial Gardens in Miami, FL, in the third week of January. The event showcases varieties from breeders of all sizes to growers and major retail buyers, providing a look at what genetics are coming to the market and how they’ll perform in retail settings and in the landscape, when consumers bring them home. The mild winter climate in South Florida allows Costa Farms’ Research and Development Department to simulate the spring growing conditions of various regions in the country. Because each group of visitors to Costa Farms’ Trial Gardens wants to see what the new plants look like in the environments that matter to them, Season Premier offers several areas within the Trial Gardens that highlight different ways to look at the wealth of new varieties. The New Product Showcase offers a way for retailers to see how plants will […]

Read More

January 26, 2016

Beekenkamp And Danziger Partner To Distribute Poinsetti…

Danziger is continuing to expand its portfolio of products to the U.S. market with the addition of poinsettia cuttings of Beekenkamp’s varieties.

Read More
Houseplant Featured Image

January 21, 2016

How To Improve Consumer Interest In Indoor Foliage Plan…

Researchers discover why there is decreasing consumer demand for indoor foliage plants and suggest ways to overcome hurdles to purchasing.

Read More
Bee On Flower

December 29, 2015

Scotts Miracle-Gro To Fund 50 Pollinator Gardens In 201…

In an effort to help combat the loss of pollinator habitats in recent years, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. announced plans in mid-December for a year-long effort to improve consumer education about pollinators and promote the creation of backyard and urban habitats where they can thrive. The “Pollinator Promise” will fund the establishment of at least 50 pollinator gardens throughout the U.S. in 2016, as part of the company’s GRO1000 community gardening initiative. The GRO1000 initiative, now in its sixth year, partners with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Pollinator Stewardship Council, The Franklin Park Conservatory, and others, to promote the availability of additional grants for gardens and green spaces throughout the country. “The importance of pollinators is unquestionable and it is easier than most people think to create a habitat where they can thrive,” says Jim King, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Scotts Miracle-Gro. “The Pollinator Promise is […]

Read More
Viraj Puri (left) and Eric Hadley (right) of Gotham Greens with Martha Stewart (middle)

December 17, 2015

Congratulations To The 2015 Martha Stewart American Mad…

Each year, Martha Stewart and the editors of Martha Stewart Living honor American entrepreneurs and small business owners for their dedication to producing innovative, high-quality products. This year, three companies from the green industry made the list.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

December 8, 2015

Develop New Habits To Change Your Greenhouse Business

Grower Homework: Don’t let your product mix become habit. Opportunities abound for the horticulture industry to evolve its reach beyond traditional plants. People have an inherent need to be in and around nature, and they’re looking for new ways to use plants, even if they don’t know it yet. Let’s study trends and habits to get ahead of the curve and create some new demand. Share your ideas by writing to me at ldrotleff@meistermedia.com or tweet @Laura_GG_TGC. Over the past few years since I came back to work full time, I’ve been studying habits, and admittedly trying to change my own. As a full-time, working, married mother, I’m still getting used to the challenges of “having it all,” and I’ve reluctantly realized that changing my habits is an absolute must to maintain a sustainable level of sanity and success. Thus, I’ve been consuming books about habit, and how it plays […]

Read More

November 23, 2015

Content Marketing: Buzzword Or Here To Stay?

A solid content marketing strategy provides valuable information that educates your consumers and builds trust.

Read More
Gotham Greens Chicago Rooftop Greenhouse

November 23, 2015

Gotham Greens Expands Into Chicago With New Rooftop Gre…

Touted as the world’s largest rooftop greenhouse, the company’s fourth facility is its first outside of New York and will produce nearly 10 million annual crops of local, premium-quality leafy greens and herbs.

Read More

October 21, 2015

Dümmen Orange Creates Fashion With Flowers At Fashion W…

As a feature sponsor for Fashion Week Columbus in Ohio, Dümmen Orange North America made a statement with its flower genetics in the spotlight. This was the first time Dümmen Orange partnered with Fashion Week Columbus in its 2015 events, held the week of October 3-10, 2015. Fashion Week Columbus is a non-profit organization showcasing local and emerging fashion designers while providing scholarships to fashion design students. Each year, Fashion Week Columbus hosts a week of fashion-related events to feature local talent in the Columbus, Ohio area. “A leader in the floriculture industry, Dümmen Orange is committed to breeding, distributing and promoting superior flower genetics,” says Dümmen Orange Operations Manager Kate Santos. “To do this, we strive to be in touch with contemporaries in the lifestyle industries. A large focus of this mission is to translate trends from fashion.” With more than 500 working fashion designers in the Columbus market, […]

Read More

October 4, 2015

ePlantSource Adds 5 New Partner Companies

ePlantSource has announced an additional five companies that have been added to its partner distribution list. Not only do the additional partners offer more supplier options to ePlantSource customers, but the website now also provides a more diverse product list with the addition of bulbs, clematis and many new varieties. New partners added for the 2015 – 2016 season: A.D.R. Bulbs Lennon Farm Greenhouses Micandy Gardens Pacific Growers Roseville Farms “We make it a priority to respond to our customers, and we have had many requests for additional options and a more diverse product line, so we are continually evaluating suppliers that work well with our non-traditional approach to the sale of live goods,” says Gary Falkenstein, President and CEO of ePlantSource. “We feel that it is good for our company, our customers and the industry as a whole to keep looking forward and seeing how we can improve and expand how […]

Read More

October 2, 2015

How To Make Your Website More Google-Friendly

During a presentation at Cultivate’15 this past July, Katie Dubow of the Garden Media Group offered several tips on how you can use search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and Google’s search features and updates to your advantage.

Read More

September 28, 2015

Filmmakers Release “Field To Vase, The Documentar…

“The Field to Vase Dinner Tour is a series of meals set on flower farms across the country. Each dinner is curated by a local chef and floral designer, highlighting the region’s produce and flowers. This is the story of Santa Cruz, California.” These opening lines introduce “Field to Vase: Santa Cruz,” a new documentary filmed, written and produced by the Los Angeles-based husband-and-wife team, Hyunsoo Moon and Haejung Kim. This past June, Haejung and Moon traveled to Santa Cruz in pursuit of a visual narrative that had captured their creative imaginations. They were enamored with the storytelling potential of the Field to Vase Dinner Tour and wanted to document their observations on film. The result of their efforts is “Field to Vase: Santa Cruz,” a documentary about the American grown flower movement and the people involved in the floral renaissance that is taking place on farms and in flower […]

Read More
Gerbera Revolution Series (Kieft Seed)

September 23, 2015

Join SAF And Other Growers To #PetalItForward And Sprea…

Next month, the Society of American Florists (SAF) will tap into the popularity of random acts of kindness with its latest public relations campaign, "Petal It Forward." Find out how you can join SAF and other growers to take part in this campaign and spread happiness with the power of flowers.

Read More
Retailers declined a coupon deal for hanging baskets because of timing

September 19, 2015

Retailer To Grower: Why Aren’t Garden Stores Letting Gr…

Have you ever sat around at a family gathering and heard someone recount a story from your childhood, except knowing your own version of the story, it’s something that casts an entirely new light on everything you think you experienced? It seems like that dynamic happens a lot between growers and retailers. Both sides know the same story, but each version is so different, it’s like two unconnected stories. This came to mind when I was talking with a regional grower, Elmer Grosser, who owns Cincinnati-based Diefenbacher Greenhouses. The operation serves about 50 customers — an even mix of local garden stores and landscapers. Grosser first came to my attention last fall, when one of his customers, Chris McKeown of Bloomin’ Garden Centre, told me I needed to call Grosser, because he was a great example of a grower who cares about retail. When Grosser and I connected, he was […]

Read More
eMailMarketing feature image

July 23, 2015

Is eMail Dead?

Email as a marketing technique may seem outdated, but when done well, it is still an effective way to share content and market your brand.

Read More
HGTV HOME CAST 2015

July 22, 2015

Cultivate’15: Keynote Nancy Fire Says Use Passion…

In the second keynote presentation at Cultivate’15, Nancy Fire, founder and creative director of Design Works International, discussed how the horticulture industry can capitalize on the latest design and lifestyle trends. Fire works with companies to help bring their designs to the next level, and she has expertise with textiles and surface design, market analysis and corporate rebranding. She was appointed as design director for HGTV HOME in 2011. Fire says customers today are interested in companies that show passion for what they do. That, combined with following the general direction of trends and maintaining a brand, are what will keep horticulture businesses relevant to their customers. A trend isn’t just a passing fad, Fire says, but rather, it indicates that something is developing or changing in a certain direction. Plants are important to consumers today, and fit into current trends, both inside and outside the home, Fire says. “I don’t […]

Read More
LuxFlora logo feature image

July 21, 2015

Luxflora Launches With Cultivate Speaker Event, New Web…

A new organization for women in horticulture that aims to change the way consumers think about flowers, launched at Cultivate’15 by sponsoring Ketty Maisonrouge, a marketing expert, who presented “How To Create A Luxury Brand.” Luxflora recently launched its website, as well as a page on LinkedIn, to facilitate networking among women in horticulture. The organization is working on next steps, including setting up a board of directors and officers. Updates and information on future events will be available at the Luxflora website as they are scheduled. Read about Luxflora’s mission and what it hopes to accomplish in “Luxflora Wants To Create A Lifestyle Movement.” In the session during Cultivate, Ketty Maisonrouge, owner of KM & Company, adjunct professor of luxury strategy at the Columbia University Business School and the author of “The Luxury Alchemist,” presented her ideas and expertise on luxury strategy marketing, and how it applies to horticulture. […]

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]