Smart Retail Tech All Garden Retailers Can Use

Rogers Gardens Seasonal Gifts
Good lighting spotlights important merchandise and subtly enhances customers’ experience of your store.

Your store may be dark for the winter, but it’s never too early to think about the light of spring and opportunities to improve within your store.

Take note of how many national retailers are making capital improvements, altering product assortments and brands, employing more part-time staff, trying new promotional tactics, and modifying services including store hours. Are you thinking of making changes to retain your best customers? Are you considering taking control of some operational costs? Is there a dark side to your retail environment?

Retail shopping survives today because it has evolved. Retail has morphed into a blend of displays, services, events, category-specific brands, exclusivity, location and, most importantly, customer satisfaction! It’s more than the thrill of the hunt for a great bargain; it’s an experience.

Are you striving to offer a “good to great” retail environment that entices today’s consumer to shop your store? Who will spread the word?

Even If You’re Not Online, Your Customers Are

Today’s retail report card (so to speak) is found in the smartphones used by millions of consumers, young and old. The smartphone shopper has the upper hand on obtaining information in great detail, including product descriptions, specifications, weights, where-to-buy locators and consumer ratings. These ratings, mostly written by the customers themselves, carry a lot of weight in purchasing decisions. The mobile app and Google have forever changed the way we communicate, research and ultimately buy.

Price is the culmination of the customer quest, but if we didn’t consider life’s experiences, then we’d all shop at Amazon. The overwhelming majority of consumers want the experience. Price means nothing if a product is out of stock, unavailable or located miles away. Shopping is a life experience, whether it’s inside brick-and-mortar stores or online.

Developing your own mobile app is a worthy consideration only if you’re devoting the time and effort to change and update your store’s events and news at least weekly. You are just a tap or a push notification away from being noticed.

Good Lighting Enhances Products — And Saves Money

LED lighting and solar energy can save hundreds of dollars on your store’s electric bill. Almost every store renovation that I’ve seen recently deploys some type of LED lighting. This lighting uses, by rough estimates, one-eighth the energy versus traditional incandescent bulbs.

The average life of LED is well over 20,000 hours. Think of how many times you’ve changed out the track-lighting bulbs in your store. They last approximately 1,600 hours maximum.

That’s about 133 days when lit for 12 hours a day in your store. Just count the lights up, folks. If you have 20 bulbs of 60w in the ceiling, that’s the equivalent of running a hair dryer non-stop all day. If you want both long-term and short-term return on your investment, think about upgrading your electrics, inside and outside. You might save some considerable money and put off upgrading your electrical panel that might be currently overloaded.

Another area of your retail space that may need lighting is your display cabinets. Are there dark shelves and products due to the depth of the shelves? Do you see shadows surrounding the displayed product?

If you can’t position your track lighting into the display zone, you may look into newer LED strip lighting. These are the same style shown in many refrigeration cases in food stores. These strips illuminate when the doors open and go off when they close, and typically use about 11 watts each. Another benefit is that they emit no heat! Check incandescent display spotlights located close to flammable materials and products for clearance and replace with LED.

In the Apple App Store, there’s a unique app called Lightmeter by White Goods; it measures LUX reading. Try it out in your store to determine if you need more brightness in your display areas.

Show Off Your Plant Knowledge by Working with Existing (or Your Own!) Apps

Our responsibility as good stewards of the garden industry begins with sound recommendations for our customers to help them be successful in their gardening, planting and lifestyle endeavors. Even if you’re not developing your own mobile app, you can leverage several existing apps to supplement the expertise of your staff and enhance your customers’ outcomes.

Bonide Chemical offers a fantastic app that’s a free download. It’s an online version of a gardener’s problem solver for plants, weeds, insects and animal controls. Identifying garden issues and having the correct remedy available right on the shelf, it’s a must-have app for any garden center staff member. Griffin supports you with many Bonide products in stock.

Garden Answers, a revamp of the original Garden Compass app, is a free download. Its plant-identification feature can instantly ID more than 20,000 plants, supported by detailed information about each species. The app also offers diagnostic help for more than 200,000 common questions about pests, disease and other issues just by snapping a picture and sending it to their network of garden experts.

Identification of trees is easy with the Leafsnap app, developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland and the Smithsonian Institution. According to the Apple App Store, this free app currently includes trees found in the Northeastern U.S., and Canada.

For another reputable resource, try Armitage’s Greatest Perennials and Annuals. This app was created by Dr. Allan Armitage, professor emeritus of horticulture at the University of Georgia, Greenhouse Grower columnist and one of the better-known professionals in our industry. The Armitage app features recommendations on more than 1,000 plants along with photos, video guides and more. It’s easy to navigate and an insightful tool, selling for $4.99 for iPhone, iPad and Android users. The app also includes a directory of garden centers. It’s free to be added to the retailer directory; simply e-mail Dr. Armitage at amarmitage123@gmail.com to learn more.

Retailing doesn’t have to be a mystery to solve! Use your own observations in the marketplace for you to craft a better, brighter retail environment. By bringing more light and knowledge to your space and your products, you’ll profit in sales and save on operational costs, while bettering the consumer’s experience in your store. Staying hungry for the next best thing may keep customers from straying to your competitors.

John Johnston is Retail Education Manager for Griffin. He can be reached at jjohnston@griffinmail.com.

Leave a Reply

More From Retailing...
Summerwinds Proven Winners display FEATURE

February 17, 2017

Proven Winners Makes Improvements to Its Retailer Certified Training Program for 2017

Understanding the challenges of training new and seasonal staff at independent garden centers, Proven Winners says it is working to equip managers with tools to prepare their employees to better handle customers’ questions and boost their confidence in selling plants this season.

Read More
TPIE 2017 tradeshow floor

February 14, 2017

Trendsetting Products and Ideas From TPIE 2017

If you're a trend watcher, the 2017 Tropical Plant Exhibition, held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, on January 18-20, was a can't-miss event. In case you missed it, here are a few highlights of the cool products, trends, and ideas seen at the show.

Read More
Plant in box for Amazon feature image

February 6, 2017

Amazon is Coming to Plant Retail; Here’s What it Means for Growers

Plant e-commerce may finally take off soon. The question is, are you ready?

Read More
Latest Stories
Summerwinds Proven Winners display FEATURE

February 17, 2017

Proven Winners Makes Improvements to Its Retailer Certi…

Understanding the challenges of training new and seasonal staff at independent garden centers, Proven Winners says it is working to equip managers with tools to prepare their employees to better handle customers’ questions and boost their confidence in selling plants this season.

Read More
TPIE 2017 tradeshow floor

February 14, 2017

Trendsetting Products and Ideas From TPIE 2017

If you're a trend watcher, the 2017 Tropical Plant Exhibition, held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, on January 18-20, was a can't-miss event. In case you missed it, here are a few highlights of the cool products, trends, and ideas seen at the show.

Read More
Plant in box for Amazon feature image

February 6, 2017

Amazon is Coming to Plant Retail; Here’s What it …

Plant e-commerce may finally take off soon. The question is, are you ready?

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

February 6, 2017

GrowIt! App Now Offers a Listing of Independent Garden …

The team behind GrowIt!, the app designed to help connect consumers with plants, has launched a new platform that allows independent garden centers to sign up to be a “Garden Shop,” helping new gardeners and community members find garden centers in their specific areas.

Read More
Monrovia Trends Floratourism

January 26, 2017

9 Trends That Could Influence Gardening in 2017

From color-changing conifers to smaller-sized luxury looks, plant experts at Monrovia predict nine trends that will drive consumers to do more gardening this year.

Read More
Bundle Pricing sign at Farmington Gardens

December 23, 2016

It’s Official: Growers Stink At Pricing Plants

The industry’s first pricing survey exposes serious problems in how plants are priced. It’s past time for us to change that.

Read More
Greenhouse Retail Center

December 20, 2016

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned From The Garden Retail…

After covering this industry for close to 20 years, I've picked up a few life lessons along the way.

Read More

December 19, 2016

Smart Retail Tech All Garden Retailers Can Use

Your store may be dark for the winter, but it’s never too early to think about the light of spring and opportunities to improve within your store. Take note of how many national retailers are making capital improvements, altering product assortments and brands, employing more part-time staff, trying new promotional tactics, and modifying services including store hours. Are you thinking of making changes to retain your best customers? Are you considering taking control of some operational costs? Is there a dark side to your retail environment? Retail shopping survives today because it has evolved. Retail has morphed into a blend of displays, services, events, category-specific brands, exclusivity, location and, most importantly, customer satisfaction! It’s more than the thrill of the hunt for a great bargain; it’s an experience. Are you striving to offer a “good to great” retail environment that entices today’s consumer to shop your store? Who will spread […]

Read More

December 13, 2016

The Industry’s Take: How We Can Win More Customer…

Check out these customer winning ideas, which range from smaller, European-type garden to boosting the decorative side of plants to just waiting for Millennials to start buying homes.

Read More

December 12, 2016

How To Merchandise Plants With Pantone’s 2017 Col…

It's great that "Greenery" is Color Of The Year, but how can plant retailers take advantage of a color that most of their products already have? Pantone has an answer for that!

Read More

December 5, 2016

Benary’s Jennifer Calhoun: How We Can Make Plants…

I see one main issue facing our industry in getting more people to buy plants — we assume that the way we used to sell plants is the way millennials will want to buy them. Nothing could be further from the truth. We sell plants in small packs that you plant in a hole in your garden, with a generic label that says “blooms all season.” Millennials don’t have gardens, so they want a plant they can put on their fourth floor apartment balcony, or better yet on a shelf in their living room near a window.  We give them too little information to help them be successful under those circumstances. But what we don’t realize is that if the plant dies, they feel personally responsible for killing another living thing which is so painful that they would prefer not to take the chance a second time. If we sold […]

Read More

December 5, 2016

A Visual Guide To Garden Retail Merchandising

Antje Verstl, a German visual merchandiser who has worked with many high level garden retailers in Europe, has a lot of practical, and inspirational advice on how to transform your plant yard into an exciting place to shop. Take a look at this gallery, and enjoy a visual guide from Verstl. Her book, “Eagle & Frog!,” is now available for purchase by an American market through her website.

Read More

November 29, 2016

How The Industry Is Ensuring Consumer Success With Plan…

Greenhouse Grower RETAILING reached out to growers and suppliers for their ideas on how to attract and keep new plant customers. Here's what they had to say about ensuring gardening success.

Read More

November 29, 2016

Heroes To Hives Seeks Veterans For Beekeeping Training

Michigan State University is bringing together two great causes of our times — supporting vets and boosting pollinators — in its new program aimed at teaching professional beekeeping to former soldiers.

Read More

November 28, 2016

Help Nature-Loving, Gardening-Skeptic Consumers Fall In…

Learn sales and merchandising techniques that will help you bring in new customers in part three of our The Missing Gardener series.

Read More

November 21, 2016

How Graf Growers Uses Bridal Fairs And Food Festivals T…

If garden retailers want to attract customers who don't think local garden stores relate to their lives, they must meet these consumers where they congregate and prove their store's relevance to their lives.

Read More

November 19, 2016

Woman Power! Cater To Your Most Important Plant Retail …

With a whopping 84% of lawn and garden sales being made by female shoppers, it's a woman's world when it comes to plant retailing. Here are some pragmatic tips on how your merchandising can cater to this important demographic.

Read More

November 18, 2016

Customers Expect A Lot From Plants — And From You

In this second article in the Missing Gardener: How To Rebuild Our Customer Base series, learn techniques to show new customers how much they can get out of plants.

Read More