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National Gardening Survey
What's Not to Like? By Ian Baldwin
"The results of the National Gardening Survey are in, and it suggests a bold, exciting future for garden retail."
Click here to read Ian Baldwin’s analyzing and commenting on this informative market research report.
The above article was originally published in the Green Profit magazine.
AmericanHort Field & Covered Production Tour
Lucas Greenhouses is proud to be one of the featured stops on the AmericanHort Field & Covered Production Tour, September 14-15, 2016. See for yourself how we are innovating for the future. AmericanHort.org/Tour
Inspiring Summer Customers Without A Word Being Said
By Ian Baldwin
As temperatures climb and that manic spring customer flow slows to a trickle some days, it’s always tempting to take a deep breath, look at sales YTD compared with last year and relax… ”it’s over”. There used to be a day when that was somewhat true, retail garden companies (and many of their suppliers) could put a “Gone Fishing” sign on the door and literally, go fishing.
Of course that’s still the case if you are living entirely on seasonal pop-ups – good for you, tell me how you make it work!
But for the thousands of owners, managers and team-members who have been in overdrive for the past 12-16 weeks, the reality is that you can’t afford to take your foot off the pedal. The costs of being in business don’t take a summer break.
Greenhouse Grower's Top 100 for 2016
Lucas Greenhouses Ranked 62
We are excited to announce that we have once again made it onto the Greenhouse Grower's Top 100 List for 2016. With 1,207,508 Environmentally controlled square feet we proudly stand in the 62nd spot. On April 1st of 1979, George and Louise opened thier doors with 9,216sq ft. It has been an amazing 37 years and we have you our customers to thank! Follow our progress below to see how Lucas Greenhouses grew from 9,216sq ft. to 1,207,508 sq ft.
Simplicity – A Twelve Point Test
By IAN BALDWIN
This blog was shared with us by Ian Baldwin. For more of Ian's Blogs, Click Here.
In most of the USA and Europe, garden retail makes money for three months, breaks even for three and loses it for six! So it’s understandable that retailers want to expose their customers to as many products as possible. They even have a phrase for it; “Peak the Peaks!”
Add to that pressure, the constant supply of new or re-packaged products (don’t even get me started on the yearly deluge of new plant varieties) and the businesses are bursting at the seams. Aisles become narrow canyons deterring shoppers while inventory obscures signs meant to help. Everything is so jammed in, nothing stands out.
Now see it like today’s customer. There are now fewer hobbyists who love discovery shopping and more time-crunched project shoppers. You can see them every spring, like deer in the headlights with 25 minutes (“tops”) to get what they need and get out of there. Faced with shelves of similar packets or benches of seemingly identical plants they are forced to read labels or bags (then go on-line to see if it’s true!) Sure they could wait for an equally stressed employee, who already has five others hovering around her and hasn’t had a break for 5 hours…
Customers don’t know what they don’t know so de-mystifying 5,000 to 20,000+ SKUs in 25 minutes is not the fun experience they expected. Choice can kill impulse and current garden retailing is SKU-ing customers to death (or at least into under-spending!)
The retailer must become the first “filter” of what shoppers need to complete their project. That is the real goal of a retail buyer; providing the sales team with a range of products already narrowed down for quick, easy-to-follow sales or merchandising. Are your buyers focused on that?
I know it is too late to thin out the shelves or cancel orders for this spring (maybe that’s a summer project before the 2017 buying season!) but use these questions to walk around each department. Consider your inventory through the eyes of today’s intrigued but hesitant consumer:
1. Is pricing readily understood by all (or do customers have to ask someone)?
2. Are customers led from impulse to wow to inspiration (or do they just wander around)?
3. Is layout conducive to grab-and-go shopping?
4. Are signs simple, fresh and understandable? (“4 in perennials” anyone…?)
5. Is there a “Fun ideas for a weekend project” area to give ideas?
6. Does the POP simplify shopping by narrowing down the choice to a few solutions?
7. Is sales language simple and confident reflecting expertise and local knowledge?
8. Do displays attract, inform and inspire in just a few seconds?
9. Does merchandising say “look no further, this is what you need”?
10. Are projects, such as planting an herb garden, sold as a one-stop kit of plants and hard goods?
11. Is there a full-size mannequin, mature display bed or photo-banner to show the project’s end result?
12. Overall, do the products and displays simplify customers’ options or just create more questions?
To get involved in the conversation, Click Here.
It's OK Not to Know the Answers
By Ian Baldwin
Ah spring; the daffodils, the greening lawns, the plum blossom. And of course there is also the Bobcat that now won’t start, new truck drivers who don’t know your “before 10am” policy, the phones that didn’t re-charge overnight and the customers: oh yes, “them”!
Every year (like an ice-storm in Atlanta), spring seems to arrive as if it was a surprise to many. Garden retailers take in more on the first busy Friday than in the previous 4 weeks. By 11am on Saturday, you have already beaten the sales for the entire month of January. Yet employees are unprepared for the stress, hired and thrown in the deep-end (or allowed to continue set-up “task” jobs even as the parking lot is bulging). The next ten weeks should pay a year’s bills; this is intense stuff and not for the fainthearted! Nor for the shy or the task-obsessed; the next few weeks are about people, specifically, customers.