Are you selling and displaying your seeds properly?

Liz Dobbs?- a?researcher, editor, writer and author on all things garden and plant related – talks to Garden Centre Retail about selling seeds.

Selling seed in garden centres is not only about the core A-Z range for the keen gardeners, but enticing customers who don?t know what seed they want or who may not even have thought about it to make purchases.

The major seed brands put a lot of research and development into marketing but as Ian Cross, marketing manager of Mr Fothergill?s, explains retailers still have a job to do: “The garden centres who do well selling seeds are interested in the products. The display has to be in the right place as impulse buys still drive sales”.

I?ve picked out my top at-a-glance tips with examples from new or recent ranges:

Nature?s helpers

The RSPB and Mr Fothergill?s have paired up to produce a new retail range based around the RSPB?s campaign ?giving nature a home?. The range includes: 16 single varieties, three Four-in-One packs and three shaker boxes of wild flower mixes. All displayed in a freestanding unit that can sit within the high traffic bird feeders/bird food part of the store. Paul Jupp (www.meadowinmygarden.co.uk) has used his marketing experience and knowledge of the garden centre market to build up the Nova-Flore range of wildflowers. An outside demonstration of what some of these look like in flower would be an eye-catching project for an interested member of staff or joint project with a local community group.

Garden gifts

Having tested some garden gift packs I feel that some are often a poor way of introducing beginners to raising seed. I feel more enthused by Johnsons? new gift packs, because it has been thoughtfully put together. It looks the part, feels generous when you open it ? it is easy to post and good value too. The Nova-Flore range would also make good ?shoebox-sized? gifts, why not offer a gift-wrapping service as you would for houseplants?

Celebrity sells

Suttons? previous tie-up with ethno-botanist and TV presenter James Wong and his Home-Grown Revolution range of less usual vegetables has been very successful. They are back again for 2015 with six new varieties including black tomato ?Indigo Rose?, samphire, red and white wild strawberries and liquorice.

Hot impulse buy

Unwins Gro-Sure Chilli pot got the branding spot on with its strong black, red and yellow colours on the packaging of the excellent variety ?Basket of Fire?. Chillies make a great first project for a foodie gardener as they can be grown on a warm windowsill.

2015 Year of the Sunflower

This Europe-wide promotion by Fleuroselect is an easy way for even smaller garden centres to get involved. For example, by getting staff or local schools to grow a few different varieties, not just the tall ones but beautiful cut flowers or extra short ones in pots. They are easy for beginners and there is promotional material you can download at www.homegardenassociation.com.

Make it personal

Paolo Arrigo of Seeds of Italy (www.seedsofitaly.com) is a fantastic example of someone who brings his brand of seeds alive. Not only does he know his varieties but just what recipe they should be used in and what part of Italy they are from. He was playing his accordion by his stand at RHS Chelsea Flower Show and displaying a collection vintage accordions with his veg at Hampton Court ? no obvious association I guess he just loves both, it draws people in and they remember.

A-Z core ranges

Thompson & Morgan?s have added 51 new varieties to their core A-Z seed range, ten of these are their own exclusive. They also have some new brand ranges such as ?edible flowers?, these would be easy to display in little cut bunches.

Finally, a word about ?housekeeping?. I couldn?t believe the dust and grime on the packets and gift boxes at the bottom of seed racks when researching seed kits last year ? even in garden centres that looked otherwise clean. During quiet spells, give someone who can bend down the job of sprucing up every seed selling space ? don?t neglect your products!

 

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