From The Archives: Benchmarking with the HTA – August 2016

The HTA has launched the new Garden Retail Monitor, promising to help garden retailers improve their business through sales benchmarking of regional and national averages.

The new Garden Retail Monitor (GRM) system aims to put more management information in the hands of garden centres than ever before. What?s more, there?s no burdensome monthly or weekly data entry needed, saving precious time for your business.

How it works

The concept is simple. Data from a garden centre?s EPoS system is automatically uploaded to a secure, encrypted database, where it?s collated with data from across the country. Participating retailers have an account, which lets them compare their business performance against regional and national averages. Comparisons can be made against businesses of similar size, helping to make a fair judgement of performance against peer businesses.

What?s available

Garden centres can benchmark metrics including total store sales, average transaction value and gross margin. Garden centres can also ?zero in? on the detail within their centres. Benchmark information is provided down to a department level so users can identify high and low performing areas which may hold opportunities for profit growth.

Because of the way the system?s been designed, garden centres aren?t forced to look at benchmark departments that are different to the ones they are familiar with. Departmental benchmark reports can be based on industry standards such as the GCA barometer of trade and the HTA Regional Business Improvement Scheme. This is enabled by the work the system does behind the scenes in mapping each participating garden centre?s sales data to a master ?index? in the system. This in turn enables benchmark reports to be presented in a variety of different ways.

?Benchmark information is provided down to a department level?

More publicity

The data collated won?t only be used for garden centre benchmarking. The HTA has ambitious plans to use the data and statistics as part of its work to promote gardening to the public. Journalists love statistics, and the more of them that HTA can provide quickly the more media coverage of gardening and garden centres the association will be able to generate.

Commenting on this, HTA PR manager Gill Ormrod said: ?It?ll be fantastic to be able to give detailed statistics to media on gardening and around occasions such as Easter and Christmas. The more of this we can provide to the media, the more often we?re going to be able to get gardening and garden centres into the media.?

Informing product innovation

The collated, anonymised data is also going to be extremely valuable to manufacturers and suppliers.? Because data is captured down to the barcode level that?s scanned at the point of sale, suppliers will be able to assess product and category performance and develop more exciting, profitable ranges for retailers. One project being discussed by the HTA is using the collated data to identify changing consumer preferences for colours and colour mixes. If that sort of project can take hold, it?ll lead to more compelling garden products for garden centres in coming years.

How to get involved

Any garden retailer in the HTA with a compatible EPoS system can sign up to use the GRM. Compatible EPoS systems include Corby & Fellas, CSY, Swan and NedFox, with others in the pipeline. If you use another system but would like to take part, the HTA can talk to you and your EPoS vendor about getting involved.

A garden centre simply needs to supply a copy of their EPoS department hierarchy structure in an Excel pro-forma to the HTA. The HTA uses this to set up regular transfer and indexing of sales data in the system. Once this is done, the HTA provides you with a set of usernames and passwords for your staff, and sends through a ?getting started? guide to using the reports. It?s that simple.

If you?d like to know more about or take part in the Garden Retail Monitor, your first step is to contact the HTA.

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