Transforming the garden centre retail space
There is no doubt that the bricks and mortar garden centre offers both a rich and unique retail experience. The horticultural industry is built on local garden centres, with loyal followings, who continue to shop in store for that extra experience. But, with the customer base evolving, and online retail taking precedence in many industries, how can garden centres transform with the times to ensure that their retail experience is still one of a kind?
The new consumer
Believe it or not, millennials are our up and coming gardeners. The younger generation, who are now buying homes and starting families, now have spending power and they're spending on horticulture.
In a piece about bricks and mortar retail, you might be wondering why we're spending so much time explaining a generation that is notorious for its preference for online shopping. That preference is largely a myth. A survey commissioned by retail consultancy I-AM found that 74% of UK millennials still prefer shopping in store to online.
Digital does still play a big role in many millennial's shopping habits, though. Whilst the millennials are arguably the 20th and 21st centuries' first digital generation, they're also keen omnichannel shoppers. A recent survey by Accenture, 41% of millennials said they practice “showrooming”. In other words, they'll find a product in a physical space and then actually purchase it online for the lowest price. Long story short, showrooming is something to consider when you're merchandising your space.
Where worlds collide…
The same Accenture survey found that 68% of this generational group demand an integrated, seamless experience regardless of and across channels. And by channels, we also mean your in-store experience.
Many millennials now prefer to find product information and advice on their own devices rather than asking in-store staff for help. Make it easy for them, with clear labelling and product names. You could also consider QR codes for your most popular items, making it quick and easy for younger customers to scan an item into their phone to find all the relevant information.
Understanding the pros and cons that millennials perceive with online vs physical shopping can also help you to design your retail experience around them. I-AM's survey found that the top three frustrations younger shoppers have when online shopping are:
- Shipping charges
- Not being able to try products before buying
- Waiting for their products to arrive
On the flip side, online shopping's top three pros were:
- The ability to browse through a wider product selection
- That they can do it anywhere, any time
- That they don't have to leave their home
Adding value to the in-store experience
This is something that garden centres have always been good at, but where does value lie for a younger client base?
It might not surprise you to hear the words “social media” here. Even when they're out and about, our millennial customer base are still very much connected, and social media is still high on their agenda. Simple tweaks to your shop's layout and merchandising could be enough to encourage some all-important user-generated content and keep your in-store audience engaged with your brand. Things like floral or plant features or living walls could be enough to get your customers engaged in your in-store experience.
Equally, these kinds of in-store features are inspiring for millennials. A generation that's a relatively new addition to the gardening customer base, millennials are looking for inspiration from physical stores just as much as they're looking for products to buy.
As we all know, consumer behaviour is shifting, with people spending more money on experiences rather than on products. So, package your products as such. A great example is to host workshops and offer all the products used during the workshop as a bundle at a special price. That way the perception is that your customer is paying for an experience they can take home with them, and bring to life in their own garden.
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