View: Jerry Montgomery On Big Box Retailing

View: Jerry Montgomery On Big Box Retailing

Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery visited retailers this year during OFA Short Course in Columbus, Ohio. His mission: to determine what’s selling, who’s supplying and who understands retail marketing of plants the best among the three national retailers. Bell Nursery is clearly best, Montgomery found, and it has raised the bar higher for all growers serving big box stores.

In all, Montgomery visited eight Home Depots, five Lowe’s, four Wal-Marts, two Sam’s Clubs, one Meijer and a Costco. Here are his observations on Bell Nursery and its service with Home Depots:

Bell Nursery stocks the shelves of Home Depot with the highest quality plants you will see at any of the three national retailers. My definition of quality is plants that are the right size for the container they are grown in and the amount of color displayed on each plants. Sounds pretty simple, but you would not believe what we have seen this year in visits to almost 900 stores nationwide in 25 major markets.

There is no doubt Bell and its vendors produce plants with adequate spacing and provide the appropriate crop time to ensure what we now call the BELL WOW. It seems many producers have shortened the crop time and reduced the spacing in an attempt to increase the revenue per square foot and maximize the number of plants per distribution cart. Sadly, they have forgotten about consumer appeal, and many have incurred a higher discard rate that has more than offset the reduced cost of production.

When you pick up the Wall Street Journal and read a story about retailers, the first number quoted is usually same store sales. If same store sales increase, the stock moves up and if not, the stock moves down. Any vendor who assists a retailer and increases same store sales will garner an increased level of negotiating power that can be used to achieve the prices needed to help increase the retailer’s sales. The national retailers need vendors who can help them make money–not just low cost, but high sell through.

Bell stocks the shelves with plants that have the WOW effect, attracting consumers who ensure their planned and impulse purchases keep sales growing at Home Depot. However, that is only a part of the Bell Nursery story. It has taken the BELL WOW in products designed and combined with the best merchandising team in the industry. Some say they just don’t know how Bell can hire the large number of merchandisers and still make a profit. It would probably tell you they can’t make a profit without the current size of its merchandising staff.

Apparently, when great-looking products are combined with outstanding merchandising, the discard rates decline to a point where they make a large contribution to the costs of merchandising. When this happens, same-store sales rise while the importance of the vendor increases, giving the vendormore pricing power. Then, everybody makes money and you end up with a lot of happy consumers.


Retail Prices Columbus Metro

Item

Size
Home Depot
Lowe’s
Wal-Mart
Meijer
Basic Annuals 1204 x x x 4.98
Full Flat 1204 x x x 11.98
Seed Geraniums (8) 3.0″ x x 1.0 each 7.99
606 x 1.88* 1.50 x
608 2.98 x x x
8.0″ 5.99 4.98 3.00 6.99
T-18 x 14.79 x x
Wing Pack 4 plts x 10.98 x x
4.0″ 0.99 x 1.25 x
6.0″ 2.99 1.98 1.50 x
Premium Annuals 6.0″ 4.99 4.98 x x
4.5″ 3.87 3.87 3.50-4.46 3.99
4.0″ x x 1.98 x
NG Imp tray of (8) 4.0″ x x x 12.99
Cordyline 1G 9.97 x x x
Caladiums 6.0″ 7.99 x x 6.99
8.0″ x 7.98 x x
Geraniums 6.0″ x 7.76 4.00 6.99
Perennials 1G 5.97 4.98** 5.00 4.99
2 G 10.98 10.98 x x
8.0″ x 7.98 x x
3 G x 14.86 x x
Patio Pots 10.0″ 9.97 12.98 12.00 x
Caladiums 12.0″ 23.97 x 15.44-17.44 x
12.0″ 19.99 19.98 x x
Bushel 11.0″ x 12.76 x x
13.0″ x 24.90 13.00 x
14.0″ 26.88 x x x
6.0″ x 34.78 x x
Window Box 16.0″ x 12.98 x x
Color Bowl 10.0″ 9.97 6.98 x x
14.0″ 12.97 x x x
Hanging Baskets x x x x x
Basic 10.0″ 5.99 4.98 6.00 x
Premium 10.0″ x 10.98 x x
12.0″ 17.98 12.98 x x
Coco Fiber 12.0″ x 24.99 x x
Garden Club HB 12.0″ x 24.98 x x
Wave 6.0″ x 3.98 4.50 3.50
306 x x 5.0 x
8.0″ 7.99 x x x
Tidal Wave 8.0″ x 7.98 x x
Proven Winners 4.5″ 4.48 3.98 x 7.99
1 G 7.97 x x x
Vigoro 1 G 6.98 x x x
Weather Channel Pt 2.49 x x x
Vigoro 1 G 6.98 x x x
Sunpatiens 1 G 6.99 x x x
Steppable 306 x x x 14.99

* 50 percent off 606 packs

** 1 G perennials on sale at $3.33

Note: There were no outdoor garden plants at Costco or Sam’s Club in Columbus.

After visiting almost 900 retail stores in 25 cities across the country this year, it has become abundantly clear that the industry has to improve the quality of products as well as the maintenance at the point of purchase. Merchandising is clearly a competitive advantage for those who have learned how to manage a high-performance organization by selecting and training the right people–and then managing them in a way that creates value for the retailer and consumer.

Bell has set some really high standards relative to the marketing of green goods. So far, I’ve observed few others that are even in its league. If you look at what they do, it is not overly complicated; the brilliance is in the consistent execution that continually creates the BELL WOW in all of their served markets.

If, as an industry, we can provide products that are the right size, have great color appeal and ensure all products are well merchandised, sales would increase year over year. Forget about promotion orders or marketing boards and invest in great plants with great merchandising, and consumers will respond by leaving a higher share of their wallets in the green goods sector.

Jerry Montgomery is a marketing consultant. He can be reached at (407) 808-4077, (352) 873-7009 or [email protected].

Leave a Reply

More From Marketing...
dummen-orange

October 18, 2016

Dümmen Orange Buys Rose Breeder, Participates In Petal It Forward Program

Dümmen Orange will be hitting the streets of Columbus, OH, this week, handing out some of its favorite flowers as part of the Petal it Forward program in partnership with the Society of American Florists.

Read More
media-day-at-altman-plants

October 17, 2016

Altman Plants Hosts Media Day To Highlight Its Water Saving Programs

This month, Altman celebrated more than 100 million gallons of water saved since its water recycling program began operation.

Read More
OSU ATI Greenhouse

September 21, 2016

Your Support Is Essential For Current And Future Students

September is back to school time, and that means renewed opportunity to support the young people who are electing to pursue careers in horticulture. I continue to hear from growers of all sizes, from all over the country, that there just are not enough qualified graduates of two- or four-year horticulture programs. We also need to be active in promoting careers in horticulture to those who are not aware of the opportunities available. There have been some great success stories in this area recently. At University of Florida (UF) last fall, Anna Ball and Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. joined UF’s Dr. David Clark in an introductory environmental horticulture couse that’s open to any major. After the class, the line of students waiting to talk with Ball, Miller, and Clark was out the door. It is so important, Ball says, for each of us, individually and collectively to […]

Read More
Latest Stories
dummen-orange

October 18, 2016

Dümmen Orange Buys Rose Breeder, Participates In Petal …

Dümmen Orange will be hitting the streets of Columbus, OH, this week, handing out some of its favorite flowers as part of the Petal it Forward program in partnership with the Society of American Florists.

Read More
media-day-at-altman-plants

October 17, 2016

Altman Plants Hosts Media Day To Highlight Its Water Sa…

This month, Altman celebrated more than 100 million gallons of water saved since its water recycling program began operation.

Read More
OSU ATI Greenhouse

September 21, 2016

Your Support Is Essential For Current And Future Studen…

September is back to school time, and that means renewed opportunity to support the young people who are electing to pursue careers in horticulture. I continue to hear from growers of all sizes, from all over the country, that there just are not enough qualified graduates of two- or four-year horticulture programs. We also need to be active in promoting careers in horticulture to those who are not aware of the opportunities available. There have been some great success stories in this area recently. At University of Florida (UF) last fall, Anna Ball and Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. joined UF’s Dr. David Clark in an introductory environmental horticulture couse that’s open to any major. After the class, the line of students waiting to talk with Ball, Miller, and Clark was out the door. It is so important, Ball says, for each of us, individually and collectively to […]

Read More
Dual Income No Kids (DINK) Young Couple

September 16, 2016

What You Need To Know About DINKs

DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) are quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing demographics that marketers are targeting.

Read More
Cavicchio Greenhouses

September 6, 2016

Cavicchio Greenhouses Wins Inaugural Sustainability Awa…

The Sudbury, MA, growing operation sustains more than 250 acres of annuals, perennials, and nursery stock, with a number of practices to mitigate its impact on the environment.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

August 10, 2016

Customers Need Hand-Holding And TLC [Opinion]

If we want customers to use our plants, we need to provide basic information about the plants we produce.

Read More
Luxflora Flower Run

July 20, 2016

First-Ever Flower Run Was A Big Success, Luxflora Says

Kicking off Cultivate’16 on Sunday, July 10, Luxflora’s first annual 5K saw nearly 150 participants racing through the picturesque Scioto Audubon Park in Columbus under clear blue skies and perfect conditions. It was a great way to start the week, participants said. Congratulations to the winners of the first-ever Flower Run: First Place: Jacob Griffith Gardner Second Place: Mike Goyette Third Place: Jack Ford The top three winners — and all of the Flower Run participants — were showered with flower petals when they crossed the finish line, making for a colorful and fragrant finish to an invigorating experience. “Personally, I would consider it a grand success,” says Luxflora President Rebecca Lusk. “The overall mood was fantastic, from start to finish. There were many high fives and group hugs, numerous duo phone selfies and postings to social media, while participants enjoyed their bananas and bottled water donated by Experience Columbus. Most […]

Read More
PrairieSplendor_CompactRose Syngenta Flowers March 2016

May 16, 2016

New “Generations Of Flowers” Study Tracks How And Why C…

The Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment have released an update and analysis of this study, which first began in 2009.

Read More
Webinar Photo from Flickr

May 7, 2016

How You Can Connect With A Broader Audience Through Web…

Webinars are time-saving and effective marketing tools that can extend your reach to a greater audience.

Read More

April 27, 2016

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

April 26, 2016

“Bee-Friendly” Labels Matter To Plant Consumers, Accord…

Research at Michigan State University shows ornamental plant buyers understand and respond to bee-friendly production practices.

Read More
Krause Berry Farms Farm To Table Dinner

April 20, 2016

What The Floriculture Industry Can Learn From Farm Mark…

Although we have a lot in common with the produce industry, there is much we can learn from one another.

Read More
Costa Farms Container Ideas E-Book

April 12, 2016

Costa Farms Targets Consumers With New Container Garden…

The electronic book offers tips on container selection, design, and plant care for millennials looking to grow in small spaces.

Read More
Tropical Fruit Tree Selection (Hopkins Tropical Fruit Nursery)

April 7, 2016

University Of Florida Research Shows Consumers Value Lo…

Compared to conventional plants, consumers reported a higher purchasing likelihood for certified organic or organically produced fruit plants.

Read More
Random Acts Of Flowers

March 31, 2016

The Floriculture Industry Needs A Unified Message To Pr…

Seeing the sneak preview of the new varieties that will be presented at California Spring Trials (CAST) spurs a visceral reaction in me. I’m giddy and excited about these gorgeous plants, having taken in some of their beauty and excellent performance already at Costa Farms’ Season Premier. I’m excited to travel to Spring Trials and that spring is coming, and I’m ready to dig in and get gardening. I’m guessing many of you feel the same way. And it’s likely that consumers do, too. Nearly a year ago, upon returning from California Spring Trials, I lamented the absence of ideas translated from CAST to retail. The beautiful displays, the breathtaking combinations, the clever marketing — somehow, all of that effort and enthusiasm focused on business-to-business promotion is not being funneled effectively to the consumer. As an industry, we are not good at working together to market our products in a clear, […]

Read More
Sakata Seed America President David Armstrong

March 30, 2016

Sakata Signs Agreement With Indonesian Government To Co…

This week, Sakata Seed Corp. announced internationally that it has signed an agreement with the Republic of Indonesia to cooperate in the further development and production of its line of SunPatiens interspecific hybrid impatiens, based on the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Under an agreement based on the CBD, Sakata Seed has worked with the Indonesian government since the early 2000s to identify the origin of the native germplasm collected in Indonesia to develop SunPatiens, and the two parties have agreed on how the indigenous genetic resources will be used for the further development of SunPatiens. There are currently only a few cases in the world of such an agreement, based on the CBD in the category of horticultural plants, made between a resource-rich country and a commercial seed company. Greenhouse Grower contacted Sakata Seed CEO David Armstrong to provide context about this agreement, what it means […]

Read More
NGI-SunPatiens-Compact-Hot-Coral-Sakata

March 23, 2016

P. Allen Smith Says SunPatiens Are Hero Plants For Cons…

Plants that ensure consumer success with disease resistance bred into their genetics, and ease of use in a variety of conditions, are heroes for gardeners, especially beginners, and they should be celebrated and supported to promote gardening success and interest. These are the messages the award-winning designer, gardening, and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith wants the horticulture industry to know, with the recent announcement of his expanded partnership with Sakata Seed. In an exclusive interview with Greenhouse Grower, P. Allen Smith describes his expanded partnership with Sakata Seed to promote SunPatiens and why the now 10-year-old series helps both novice and expert gardeners to be successful. Smith also collaborates with Sakata to promote the HomeGrown Collection of vegetables. SunPatiens Set Consumers Up For Success, Smith Says As a plantsman first, Smith has extensively trialed SunPatiens in his gardens at Moss Mountain Farm in Little Rock, AR, and says he is […]

Read More
Suzanne McKee

March 18, 2016

4 Pitfalls To Avoid With Responsive Web Design

When implementing responsive design on your website, sidestep these common problems with some advance planning.

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