Targeted Plant Selection Creates Better Sell-Through

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Advances in technology and better understanding of the dynamics of consumer sales at the retail level are changing the way growers decide what plants to grow.

“I think we are learning that a lot of what we as growers thought were good plants for us may not necessarily be the best for our specific situations,” says Tim Brindley, president of Stacy’s Greenhouses in York, S.C “We used to looked at that differently. My favorite plant was always Dianthus ‘Firewitch.’ It had flowers. It was short. It was easy to grow. It didn’t get diseases. And I could put a lot on the carts. I liked it because it was easy and efficient for me. That’s not the way we look at plant selection anymore.”

Today, he focuses on what plants will be successful for consumers and for Stacy’s customers.

“We look at what is best for the consumer — what will give them value? What will be something that is more multi-use than single use? That’s the first criteria we look at,” Brindley says.

The next focus, he says, is identifying what each individual store needs in its location. “The way we use technology and replenishment models, we’re able to drill down to the specific store and specific trends in that store and target the right product into those stores. We can even break it down and see differences between stores in the same town,” he says.

Previously, Brindley says, the shipping process focused on staging orders to be the most efficient for the grower. “You lined up 600 carts for 200 stores, three carts each,” he says.

Now all the orders are specific.

“It’s more difficult for us, and it costs us a little bit of money. There’s more labor involved. But we also have better sell through, and we are getting the right product to the retailers. It’s what they truly need in that one store for their customers, which should equate to return visits and more business for us. That’s what were seeing now, and it’s made us better,” he says.

“You Have To Be Better, Faster.”

Being able to refine Stacy’s offerings to help retailers and consumers has been a critical differentiator for the business, Brindley says.

“The big growth in our industry occurred when the boxes were opening many new stores. As they grew, we all grew,” he says.
But that growth has ground to a halt and led to the company’s change in philosophy.

“Nobody’s opening new stores anymore. How do you grow in that environment? You have to be better, faster. You have to have the right product in the right stores at the right time. You have to earn the business by doing somethingbetter than the people who have that business now,” he says.

“The growers that are left are all fighting over those same stores. We have to be the best every day, and we have to do something better every day. We are getting ready to install a new operating system because we know we need to get to the next level. We have to find our advantages and make them work for us.

“It’s hard work, but it makes us a better business.”

Richard Jones is the group editor for Greenhouse Grower and Today's Garden Center magazines.

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