Creating experiences for children with soft play
It's now widely accepted that modern retail is a lot more than just offering a host of products on racks and shelves. Companies such as Nike are creating shopping experiences to encourage customers through the doors. Others like Ikea are creating digital experiences in store with augmented reality.
Garden Centres have the perfect opportunity to offer ‘experiences' to their customers. As the title of this article suggests, it's also worth creating exciting experiences for those non-shoppers – children that visit your centre with parents or grandparents. Tong Garden Centre is currently building a bespoke play offering within their award-winning centre.
Offering a play area for children to enjoy means that your garden centre will become a destination children want to visit when their parents mention it. And of course, keeping garden centres in the minds of children is also an extremely effective way of futureproofing your business and encouraging their interest in outdoor space as they grow into adults.
It's not solely about future custom either – this idea benefits the here and now. Most parents want to get their children out of the house and moving, and if those children have previously enjoyed an hour at the soft play facility at an easily accessible local garden centre, which also provides free parking and a decent cup of coffee (and a delicious slice of cake), why wouldn't that centre be the best place to visit? Children have a huge influence on what parents and grandparents do with their spare time.
If space allows, and your target audience has moved from the typical gardener to the young family looking for something to do and somewhere to go in a relaxed environment, a play area is a sound investment. Your business will see the benefits now and later.
Joe Wilkinson is the editor of garden retail trade magazine Garden Centre Retail. Garden Centre Retail offers news, product info and business advice via the magazine, social media and online at www.gardencentreretail.com