How to tackle ?scary? plant retailing

Scary was a keyword of the day at Plant Retailing ? Fit for the Future, which took place yesterday. A scary digital future, scared first time gardeners, and a scary volatile plant environment.

Taking place at Ball Colegrave in Banbury during its Summer Showcase, an event that promotes the industry so well, garden retailers and growers attended the free HTA event to look at the future of plant retailing.

Trends, merchandising and bullet proof plants were first on the agenda:

Pippa Goodman, Commercial Director, The Future Foundation, picked up on digital and technology based trends and how they are changing consumers in the short, medium and long term. Long term, the world is moving towards automated living. Expertise will still be required, but in a programmable/digital manner. There is an opening for businesses to combine their expertise with technology to become the expert assistant.

Alyson Haywood, Specialist in Garden Centre Business Improvements, gave great insight into how to create an eye catching and memorable display both in-store and out.? The trick is to inspire customers so they think they need it and this is achieved with several key merchandising principles.

Scott Rusch, Product Group Director, PanAmerican Seeds, fascinated delegates with the secrets behind ?bullet proof plants?. There have been big changes in trends surrounding product and development, with the focus being on improving plant performance. Breeding companies are pursuing: continued screening in landscape and container trials, interspecific hybrids for added traits for the end user, and incorporating disease resistance to mitigate impact of pathogens.

A panel session on POS and merchandising of plants had these key takeaways:

There is a correlation between value of product against how many senses it can stimulate ? plants are in a strong position already.

You don?t want to sell delayed disappointment to customers. Use your loyalty scheme to keep in touch and educate them.

Provide an entry point for first time gardeners who are scared of gardening. If you start with them, they will stay loyal.

Loyalty schemes are about more than the price of products. What else can you offer? Events? Workshops? Garden doctor?

Is ecommerce a threat? Those with plant knowledge already might be tempted by the convenience of ordering online.

Don?t underestimate the online market ? look what happened to books! Are the tactile elements of plants enough to drive traffic?

Peter Seabrook, Horticultural Writer and Broadcaster, closed the day with a message that there is an unbelievable opportunity to have plant sales people back in retail, particularly as customers are feeling scared and daunted when they arrive in the plant area. Whose responsibility is it to do this? Grower and retailer together.


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