24 Oct 2023

How Sustainability can Drive Footfall in Store: Part 1

The urgency to make lifestyle shifts and adopt sustainable business practices has never been more critical. Sustainability is no longer a buzzword; it's a top priority for consumers and businesses worldwide. In this era, business decisions increasingly revolve around ESG credentials, encompassing Environmental, Social, and Governance factors. 

Environmental factors focus on reducing carbon emissions, recycling, and efficient energy and water usage. Social aspects involve managing stakeholder relationships, and Governance criteria relate to fairness and transparency in business practices. 

Businesses with robust ESG frameworks gain a competitive edge. Ethical and eco-friendly brands attract more investment and enjoy positive reviews and media coverage. This shift in consumer preferences provides a golden opportunity for garden centres to embrace sustainability and eco-friendly products. 

Sustainable Product Sourcing 

The arrival of Covid-19 brought personal introspection and heightened awareness about how organizations treat their customers and staff. Garden centres capitalized on the lockdown periods by staying open and serving a nation in need of solace and entertainment. Sales of gardening products, homeware, and gifts soared as people turned to gardening and home improvement. 

This newfound interest in gardening and sustainable living presents an opportunity for garden centres to align with consumer values. Even as cost considerations remain crucial, sustainability plays a vital role in consumer choices, especially among affluent clients who frequent garden centres. 

Tell the Sustainable Story to Your Customers 

Garden centres need to proactively communicate their environmental responsibilities, especially since the implementation of the plastic packaging tax in April 2022. The garden industry now boasts a wide range of eco-friendly products, from peat-free soil to chemical-free pest control. These products resonate with environmentally conscious consumers. 

Point of sale materials serve as powerful tools to inform consumers about the sustainable credentials of products. Transparent labeling, highlighting factors like recycled materials, local production, fair trade, and organic certifications, helps customers make informed choices. 

The garden sector should be at the forefront of meeting consumer expectations regarding sustainability. As sustainability and eco-activism take center stage in events like the Chelsea Flower Show, garden centres can further drive the sustainability agenda. 

Sustainable Merchandise Displays 

Stocking sustainable products is one thing; presenting them effectively is another. Garden centres can create compelling merchandise displays focused on eco-friendly products. These displays can serve as a powerful tool to educate customers about sustainable choices. 

In-store Events to Introduce Sustainable Solutions 

Garden centres can leverage their indoor and outdoor spaces to host in-store events. These events can showcase sustainable products, organic local produce, and gardening tips. Experts in the field can educate customers about environmentally friendly horticulture practices. Garden centres can establish themselves as community thought leaders and facilitators of sustainable change. 

Community Spirit 

Collaboration with local allotment societies and organizing local walks can strengthen community ties and encourage more people to shop at garden centres. These initiatives can also serve as a valuable resource for educating and engaging the next generation of gardeners. 

Marketing Emails and Promotions 

Email marketing, especially with loyalty schemes in place, is an effective way to inform customers about new sustainable product lines. Special promotions and offers can attract customers to explore eco-friendly options. 

Social Media 

Social media platforms are ideal for emphasizing sustainability messages. Garden centres should use hashtags creatively to expand their reach and catch the attention of eco-conscious consumers. 

Refill and Recycling Stations 

Zero-waste lifestyle choices are increasingly popular. Refill stations for eco-friendly products can make garden centres a destination for environmentally conscious consumers. Establishing drop-off points for items like used batteries and toner cartridges enhances the shopping experience for sustainable-minded customers. 

Peat Free Pledge 

With peat-free alternatives available, garden centres should make it clear which products are peat-free. Garden centres have the opportunity to lead the way in sustainable topsoils and compost products. 

Café Culture 

Cafes and restaurants catering to vegetarians and vegans can attract more customers, provided they meet strict dietary requirements. Offering a variety of plant-based options and ensuring they are prepared to meet the highest ethical standards can make garden centres known as havens for plant-based eaters. 

Electric Car Charging Points 

The installation of electric car charging points can attract eco-conscious customers who drive electric vehicles. This added convenience can lead to more frequent visits to the garden centre, boosting in-store sales and cafe revenue. 

Garden centres have an opportunity to lead the sustainability movement by embracing these practices. The time is right to drive the sustainability train and meet customer expectations for eco-friendly products and services. 

Read the second part of this article here.

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