Retailer To Grower: It’s Time To Offer Services To Local Garden Centers, Too

Four Star Greenhouse Proven Winner Plants At English Garden
Four Star Greenhouses treats English Gardens, a retail chain in the Detroit area, as if it were a mass merchant, including stocking, caring and even selling the plants within the store.

For those growers that supply mass merchants, stocking and merchandising in the store is standard practice. It won’t come as a surprise that independent retailers have been envying that service.

The divide between how mass merchants and local garden centers are treated is widening. Most of that difference is natural. Yes, big boxes have multiple locations, similar in level to local garden centers, but mass merchant messaging and inventory are streamlined. It makes creating large-scale merchandising programs easier to handle. Also, pay-by-scan lends significant motive to make it work.

When big boxes forced the practice on plant suppliers a decade ago, no one could have predicted that growers would like and want to merchandise and care for their plants at the retail level. Yet, Greenhouse Grower’s Top 100 report shows that’s exactly what has occurred.

One grower told us, “more control almost always means more profitability for the grower.”
That grower’s attitude is reflected in a couple of stats from the Top 100 report. A full 84 percent consider having control over merchandising a good thing.

When given four options for involvement with merchandising, only 15 percent wanted nothing to do with stocking and merchandising in the store. In contrast, almost a fourth (22.5 percent) want complete control.

There were solid reasons for this attitude that had nothing to do with improving pay-by-scan numbers.

“We are more dialed in with the product mix,” one respondent says.

“This is the key to better execution at the store level. Less shrink, better sell-through, nicer presentation and hopefully, better sales,” says another grower.

3 Reasons You Should Offer Local Garden Retailers Your Services

Local garden retailers would love to have some help in the spring, and growers are in a prime position to help out.
You will find there are some distinct differences in dealing with local retailers.

1. Local garden centers excel at plants. They hire their own staff to water and maintain plants, so your role in caring for your plants would be at a much lower level than what is needed for the corporate-oriented mass merchants. That’s not to say that some retailers wouldn’t be willing to have a little help from time to time.

2. They’re willing to pay for the service. Most garden centers are family owned, so there’s an expectation of fairness when it comes to receiving any service.

“Offer it as an optional service. Getting plants delivered and then to the sales floor in a timely manner helps everyone sell more,” says Ron Vanderhoff, general manager of Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar, Calif.

3. By offering this service, you’ll have more say in how your plants are displayed at retail. If you want more space, obviously that needs to be negotiated. But a grower that has a voice at the planning phase for spring is much more likely to get special treatment when it comes to promotions and displays.

So why not consider offering some of what mass merchants get to retailers? In order for pay-by-scan to succeed, there would need to be a uniformity of barcodes that just doesn’t exist today (although that idea is being discussed by various groups). But stocking shelves at delivery and merchandising the display would be an enormous help to busy retailers during spring. You’d win a great deal of loyalty if you offered this service.

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