3 Surprising Retail Trends You Should Try At Your Garden Shop

3 Surprising Retail Trends You Should Try At Your Garden Shop

Pantry recipe store's homepage imageA coworker forwarded an article profiling the top 100 retail trends of 2015. It was fun to scroll through Trendhunter.com’s picks, which were made up of articles they had written in 2015 that highlighted innovative retail practices.

There was a lot to choose from, but three in particular caught my eye. Each could be adapted in some way to a garden retail setting. Look over the trends and my picks below and share which trends you’re thinking about adopting in your store.


#100 Project-Only Stores

A Brookline, MA-based grocery store designed around recipes, Pantry brings the online concept of selling all the ingredients needed for a meal — in the correct portions needed to follow the recipes for the meal — to brick and mortar. The store is organized around 20 recipe stations, which have graphics of the finished meal, recipes and cooking tips for the meal, and pre-portioned amounts so “no food goes to waste.” The recipes change out weekly.

Throughout the 10% Project’s consumer research we discussed the need to transform how younger and new customers experience shopping at garden centers. We found that they saw local garden shops as intimidating and somewhere they would shop at once they were an expert in gardening.

AmericanHort discovered a similar theme in its SHIFT research, which deployed college students and researchers across the country to learn what younger customers want in a garden store and to reimagine what garden retail can be.

Pantry is taking this concept to its most pure form, where easy-to-execute projects (or recipes) is pretty much all the store sells.

#86 Merging Online Experiences In The Store

Neiman Marcus has installed “memory mirrors” in one of its California stores. The memory mirror allows a customer to save an image of herself with one outfit on, change into the next, and then ask the mirror to show the two looks side by side. She can also see how a top or dress looks in different colors, or what a jacket might look like with that same ensemble. And if she wants, she can solicit input from friends by texting the images to them there in the store. And customers can pay for the outfits right there at the mirror.

This is obviously a very expensive system, so expensive that even a luxury store like Neiman’s tested it in only one store. Not something a garden store can aspire to any time soon, right?

But there’s real potential for garden retailers if you look at the spirit of the experiment. At its heart, the mirror combines the best of an online experience with the best of in-store shopping.

Think about it. There’s a social aspect to ordering something online. You can post images of different products on social media to get feedback, and you can brag about what you selected. And checkout is a breeze online. But, you can’t verify that what you’re buying is as good in person as it looks online. It’s a risk. And if you don’t like it, or it doesn’t fit, returning it is a much bigger hassle than buying it is.

Bachman's Idea House Fall 2015A few years ago, Bachman’s in Minneapolis tapped into this marriage of online and in-person shopping when it opened its Idea House. Bachman’s visual merchandisers, using the products sold at the store, decorated an old house that’s on the property of its Lyndale Ave. location.

The designers came up with clever decorating and entertaining ideas that customers can recreate. There’s no shopping at the Idea House, but Bachman accepts the $5 tickets to act as a $5 gift certificate for purchases of $25 or more.

Paul Bachman told a group of peers that the Idea House was by far their most successful effort to attract younger customers. They would come, take photos of their favorite ideas and post them on Instagram, Pinterest and other social sites. That in turn attracted their friends to tour the Idea House.

That’s just one idea. Think what can be done with a landscaping program. Customers can upload a photo of their house and see what it would look like with your inventory, such as trees and shrubs at maturity, and hanging baskets.

There are many ways to bring the best of online shopping into your store. It just takes a little imagination.

Idea #37 Pop Up Store Shelves

This idea is more straight forward than my other two favorites. A Spanish company re-uses scaffolding and adds colorful and durable fabric to create portable store shelving. Having easily-assembled, light-weight shelving is something every garden retailer should invest in if it wants to meet its community where it gathers and not just try to attract them to the store’s location.

With a generation growing up with a virtual playground of computer games instead of playing tag in the backyard, garden shops have an uphill battle to capture their attention.

One way to do that is to have booths at any venue that crosses your products, such as food festivals, craft-beer making clubs and bridal fairs (for living center pieces and gifts).