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...
Aquaponics At Brogue Hydroponics

March 30, 2015

10 Things You Need To Know About Aquaponics

Are you curious about expanding into aquaponics? From pest control to equipment, Bob and Jesse Kilgore of Brogue Hydroponics offer 10 factors you need to consider.

Read More
Aquaponics At Brogue Hydroponics

March 30, 2015

Aquaponics Is Making A Splash At Brogue Hydroponics

The owners of Brogue Hydroponics explain why they expanded into aquaponics, and how the shift has helped them uncover a new market opportunity.

Read More
Hendriks-Half-Open-Roof_GGS

March 26, 2015

10 Greenhouse Products For First-Rate Growing Environments

From coverings to fork-lifts, greenhouse suppliers offer a variety of products to make growing easier. Check out the slideshow to learn more about these, plus several other products that can offer you value, versatility and durability.

Read More
Latest Stories
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Hor…

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
National Floriculture Forum 2015 029

March 18, 2015

2015 National Floriculture Forum Focuses On Marketing I…

The 2015 National Floriculture Forum, held March 6 to 7 in Minneapolis, Minn., zeroed in on the topic of marketing in horticulture and included visits to Gertens Greenhouses and Garden Center, Bailey Nurseries, Bachman’s Floral, Home and Garden and Tangletown Gardens. The annual meeting allows greenhouse and floriculture faculty, graduate students and industry partners to meet and share updates on current research, issues and initiatives.

Read More

February 18, 2015

Range Of Nursery Inspections To Protect Patented Plants…

Plant patents are under protection, and breeders are fighting for their rights to keep growers from illegally propagating protected varieties. It's something you don't want to take a chance on, because the risk is far higher than the reward. More than 300 inspections were carried out last year from New York to British Columbia and from Ontario to Florida to protect plant patents, Plant Breeders’ Rights (PBR) and branded programs.

Read More

February 4, 2015

TPIE 2015: An Electrified Industry Vibe Boosts Cool New…

The general feeling at the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association's 2015 Tropical Industry Exhibition (TPIE) was upbeat and positive. Attendees were inspired by exciting new products and varieties, as well as creative new displays and innovative ideas and left energized for the season ahead.

Read More
Costa Farms Website

January 21, 2015

Costa Farms’ Launches New Interactive Website

Costa Farms is making efforts to educate consumers while pushing horticultural digital marketing forward with the re-design of its website. The new website features a fresh design and improved navigation, as well as a plant finder that gives gardeners easy access to plant information.

Read More

January 5, 2015

Growers Are Successfully Marketing The Benefits Of Pla…

Growers who are already marketing plant benefits and gardening as a lifestyle say they think this could be the best angle for the floriculture industry to promote our products.

Read More

January 5, 2015

Plants Love You Campaign Raises Plant Benefits To Foref…

Plants make us feel good. It’s a no-brainer, backed by numerous studies, but there’s more to the story. And it’s one the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance (COHA) hopes its Plants Love You campaign will tell in such a way that it will inspire people to make plants a part of their life, and on a bigger scale. COHA is an alliance between the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA), the Fédération Interdisciplinaire De L’Horticulture Ornementqale Du Québec (FIHOQ) and Flowers Canada Growers (FCG). Inspiration for The Plants Love You campaign came from COHA’s research, which revealed that 96 percent of consumers surveyed have a favorable attitude toward plants. When COHA delved deeper into the numbers, one thing stood out loud and clear. “It quickly became apparent that while consumers like plants because they are pretty and make them feel good, few understood the environmental and health benefits plants offer.” says Frank […]

Read More

December 9, 2014

New Website For PanAmerican Seed

PanAmerican Seed's new website is mobile-friendly and has a fresh look and enhanced navigation.

Read More
What’s a pumpulent? It’s a pumpkin planted with succulents, and it’s also one of the ways Altum’s is catching customers’ attention with new products and modern marketing.

December 1, 2014

9 Digital Marketing Resolutions For 2015

Whatever your experience with digital marketing, here’s some advice for keeping your business progressing into the new year.

Read More

November 25, 2014

Conley’s Launches New Website

Conley’s Manufacturing and Sales recently launched its newly designed website, which was redesigned to create a user-friendly digital environment for customers to explore Conley's products.

Read More

November 17, 2014

Canada’s Plants Love You Campaign Educates Consum…

In a cooperative effort to promote the benefits of plants to consumers, the Canadian Ornamental Horticulture Alliance (COHA) recently launched its Plants Love You campaign to make consumers more aware of the health, environmental and economic benefits of plants.

Read More
Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum™ Petunia from Proven Winners

November 11, 2014

Plantbid Offers New Tool For Growers, Plant Buyers

Plantbid is touted as a revolutionary new tool that allows plant buyers to purchase their whole plant list at one time, from growers who provide their complete availability online. According to the company, this new offering could change the way growers and landscapers do business.

Read More
Dahlia Dahlinova Temptation Lavender from Dummen Fides Oro

November 10, 2014

Bas Pellenaars Takes On New Role As Brand Manager For D…

Dümmen group announces the transition of Bas Pellenaars from area manager to brand manager.

Read More

October 28, 2014

Zombie Adventures Are Back: GGS Releases Premiere Of Ne…

What's good for plants, but bad for zombies? GGS structures. The company released a new promotional video to get growers in the spirit of Halloween. GGS Structures ran a series of zombie movies last year, and this year, something new was released October 24.

Read More
Suzanne McKee

October 27, 2014

Use Your Data To Make Smarter Marketing Decisions

Learn which marketing metrics are important to your business, measure successes and learn where changes are needed.

Read More
Sara Tambascio

October 2, 2014

How To Measure The Success Of Your Digital Marketing

Take a look at these metrics in your digital marketing to see if you’re connecting with your audience or just adding to the clutter.

Read More

September 26, 2014

How To Get The Digital Generation Into The Garden: Gard…

Capture millennials’ gardening interests with these marketing tips.

Read More
The Joseph Shinoda Memorial Scholarship Foundation

September 9, 2014

Shinoda Foundation Contributes Nearly $15,000 In Schola…

Based in California, the Joseph Shinoda Memorial Foundation's mission is to encourage educational opportunities for young people interested in entering the industry. Since 1965, the foundation has awarded $790,000 to more than 660 undergraduate floriculture students.

Read More