Once the holidays have passed, turning the calendar page is exciting for garden centers – at least it should be! The anticipation of a new spring season fuels us with renewed energy to plan for our stores. How we execute those plans will determine whether we reach our goals down the road.
It’s natural to feel a bit weary at the end of the year. Winter’s gray skies, cold weather and stormy days can further dampen the soul. Spring is on the horizon, though, and January is the perfect time to build an exciting in-store foundation for your customers. Let’s consider the possibilities for early sales opportunities.
The New Norm
Have you noticed how much earlier national retailers begin to promote sales for an upcoming season? It seemed that kids were just heading back to school and the race was on to sell Christmas and holiday this year. Truth is, it’s getting earlier every year.
The internet and especially Amazon have changed the way consumers buy. There’s no prep time, no shift in operational manpower or waiting to complete the seasonal look to launch a selling season. It’s instantaneous: a few taps on the keyboard and they’re done. Consumers have noticed, too! They’ve adjusted their buying habits to start shopping further in advance.
Are we keeping up with earlier promotions? Setting the store a bit earlier each year? In many instances, I’d say yes. Much can be gained between November 1 and Thanksgiving Day, through excitement and anticipation of the next holiday season. While weather dictates the selling season of plants and outdoor activity, the calendar still rules the event timeline and what moves people to consider buying. Thus the new norm is being “retail ready” well in advance of the typical start of a selling season, especially spring.
Once upon a time, mail-order seed catalogs and the Jackson Perkins rose circular were readily available by January 1. Today, though, printed catalogs aren’t viable or profitable for many companies. Even Amazon’s Alexa isn’t able to answer my question when I ask what’s new in lawn and garden. Her reply is “I don’t know.”
Our industry is the best at communicating and selling lawn and garden products, plants and solutions. We continue to be the most reliable source for what’s best for our customers. It keeps them coming back for more! You are far more valuable than Alexa when it comes to garden knowledge. Your New Year’s resolutions might include how to promote your store, your staff and your brand even better in 2019.
The Calendar of Events
Mark your calendar with key delivery dates of plant material to your store. Orchids, kalanchoes, African violets, succulents, small foliage and ferns, primrose, pansies, miniature roses, all of these need a formal announcement to arriving customers to your store. A simple easel and chalkboard can do the trick. Plan ahead and create “point of decision” signage for new plant varieties and new products, and be sure to educate your staff on these. Don’t forget to include your selling price! More than half of sales failures are attributed to lack of a visible sale price.
Your newest items often drive higher profit margins, so you’ll likely want to put promotional focus there. When consumers see or hear about a product first in your store, you stand a higher chance of capitalizing on this selling opportunity over another store. Keep in mind dates like St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) and Easter (April 21), so you’re highlighting the newest arrivals in your store well in advance of the first warm day of spring. Fair warning: It might be earlier than the calendar suggests!
Here are some new items from Griffin to consider: