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 mrplug@att.net.

Leave a Reply

More From Marketing...
PP&L CAST 2015 intros

April 22, 2015

6 Breeding Companies Serve Up New Varieties At Pacific Plug & Liner

Pacific Plug & Liner’s theme this year, Labyrinth, a conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants, was perfectly topped off (pun intended) with fascinators for the women and newsboy caps for the men. The PP&L team dressed their part to act out the gothic “conservatory of the world’s most captivating plants.” Truly, the displays looked like they practically popped out of a catalog, and the costumes were a nice touch. Retailers take heed, the fully merchandised displays at Pacific Plug & Liner are worthy of emulating. We’ll let the pictures tell the story of all the fabulous variety introductions presented at  Pacific Plug & Liner’s 2015 California Spring Trials, where Cultivaris, Cohen Nurseries, Histil Nurseries, Jaldety Nurseries, Southern Living/Sunset Collection and Pacific Plug & Liner all highlighted their 2016 introductions.  

Read More
Speedling 2015 CAST intros

April 22, 2015

Speedling Inc. Presents New Varieties From ABZ Seeds, Hem Genetics, Thompson & Morgan, Vista Farms & PSI

You name it, we saw it at Speedling's California Spring Trials location in San Juan Bautista, where five companies showed off their new introductions for 2016.

Read More
PittMoss on Shark Tank

April 22, 2015

PittMoss Wins On Shark Tank

Mont Handley, president and CEO of PittMoss, appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank on April 17 to try to get the “sharks” to invest in his peat moss alternative. Three investors from the TV show contributed $600,000 to PittMoss for a 35 percent stake in the company. Check out this clip from ABC’s website in which Mark Cuban, Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec discuss getting on board with the product. PittMoss is an alternative to sphagnum peat moss, made up of a mix of proprietary additives and recycled paper rescued from landfill space. Handley founded the Pittsburgh-based company in 1994. What started as a small experiment grew into a full-fledged business with the help of funding provided by an EPA SBIR grant and Pittsburgh’s Idea Foundry. Today, PittMoss is available to commercial greenhouses and nurseries from Michigan to Maine to North Carolina, with plans to grow. To learn more, visit PittMoss’ website, or check it […]

Read More
Latest Stories

April 15, 2015

Redesigned SunPatiens Website Offers New Tools For Saka…

Sakata Seed America's new and improved SunPatiens website launched March 1, 2015 and provides growing information, marketing support, product location and many more tools to encourage consumer success with SunPatiens.

Read More
Keenland

April 13, 2015

Proven Winners Partners With Award-Winning Designer Jon…

Proven Winners will partner with award-winning garden designer, author and fine living expert Jon Carloftis on a new series of four LIFE + STYLE events in 2015. In true Carloftis style, food and spirits will be paired with inspiring architecture and innovative garden designs featuring Proven Winners plants.

Read More

April 13, 2015

New Consumer Website Makes Buying Roses Easier

A new website has been created as a resource tool for gardeners who are looking for a rose that fits their needs. This website is 100% consumer focused and will inspire confidence and promote rose gardening to the next generation of gardeners. Visitors will also find links to connect on social networks, such as Facebook and Pinterest. The website promotes roses, not specific brands, and that is what makes it unique.

Read More
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