Technology will rapidly transform how retailers engage with their customers, reverberating through everything from the daily process of running a business to plant tags, containers, videos and apps. Retailers will find it less difficult to get out of the office and back into the business of working with plants and people.
Improved Point-Of-Sale (POS)
Mobile POS systems will soon replace the traditional checkout as smartphones and tablets make it possible for retailers to perform on-the-spot transactions anywhere they have an internet connection. Retailers will find it simpler to keep track of customers’ buying preferences and manage inventory in real time.
It will be harder for thieves to access unauthorized funds in the future, thanks to a new security chip placed in credit cards that requires a pin number before completing any transaction. The introduction of mobile wallet technology will also help accelerate customer engagement using interactive coupons, geofencing enhancements and more.
The Reinvention Of Plant Tags
Plant tags are quickly moving away from easily ignored pieces of plastic to detailed advice portals that place a diverse amount of growing information directly in the end-consumer’s hands. Improved QR (Quick Response) codes already allow retailers to communicate everything a consumer needs to know about a plant at the point of sale.
Augmented reality (the integration of computer graphics into the real world) may replace QR codes to provide customers with a view of how a plant looks like in their yards without ever leaving the store. The challenge will be how to provide highly customized, regional information while avoiding duplication of material already printed on the tag.
The advent of 3D printers hints at an exciting future, when suppliers offer highly customizable containers to stores at affordable prices as the technology improves. As retailers seek to draw customers’ attention with eye-catching plant presentations, pressure will continue for growers to select decorative containers that appeal to the end consumer and have high usability. High-end, decorative pots are already gaining popularity with growers targeting consumers who want to use plants in home decor. Brightly colored containers in chartreuse green, hot pink and bright purple are replacing the traditional white, black and terra cotta as seen at the 2013 International Plant Materials show in Essen, Germany.
Screen printing technology may also allow growers to streamline production in white pots, and screen-print branding and plant information on the pot as finished crops head out the door to retail.
Producing Plant Videos
Consumers are eager for information in the form of easily digestible plant videos that are two minutes or less in length. To differentiate their videos, retailers will have to provide relevant, high-quality content that initiates an immediate consumer response, including tutorials on topics like how to choose plants that work well together in combinations, and how to use plants in home decor and herbs in cooking. Expect to see greater video interactivity in the future through live streams, options for extended footage and a pause feature that allows users to stop the video and access additional product content.
Developing Retail Apps And Mobile Websites
Smartphone apps that can quickly push out information to customers on new arrivals, special offers and upcoming events are still catching hold in retail garden centers. As retailers seek to utilize apps as a way to connect with customers that goes beyond Facebook and Twitter, they will have to weigh carefully what information their customers want against what they can realistically deliver and maintain.
Developing mobile websites is another growth area retailers will need to grasp as consumers access more information from their mobile devices. Generation Y is well-informed and likes to research purchases both in-store and before they enter stores. Internet search engines could eventually offer retailers the opportunity to know what consumers are searching for, and provide a shopping list for them when they check in to the store.