The Future of Garden Centres

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 15:33

By now everybody probably has heard of this Covid-19 virus. This has affected all our lives in one way or another. Since there is no telling how the future is going to play out we should take a look at what we currently do to improve the situation later on. As Winston Churchill said 'Never let a good crisis go to waste'. Let us look at the other risks that the garden centre faces over the next decade and how to embrace the situation and come out stronger and better placed for the times ahead. There is no denying that the recent past has been successful but how to remain that way.

The millennials are a strange bunch, I am a millennial by virtue of age maybe not so as a person. My group doesn't like mass gatherings where we personally share, paradoxically we love the small personal events. We enjoy buying and hate shopping, love being social unless it involves being social. We rather post online on our friends than meeting them in person. We love sending messages but hardly call friends. We are leading the way in buying online.

Garden centres need to find a way to have this group buy more, and note that I did not say come into the store necessarily. Covid-19 is going to force us to adjust towards a more efficient shopping experience, people are afraid of getting in contact with each other now, for good reason. They want to have the plants but would rather not see anyone let alone touch something that was in front of the public all day. The carts and payment methods are touch points that we should avoid. How do we still get people to quickly select and buy while not taking their hands out of their pockets or touch a new surface.

One easy step is order online and collect at the store, this brings people in ; I would still do a quick lap and probably buy something and than pick up my order. The best would be to have it carried to my car and I just lift it at home when I wear my gardening gloves. Beautiful plants zero contact points. Another solution could be to have people scan all they want like a virtual shopping cart. This I call the supermarket method. Customers scan the items they would like to purchase, they can see one or two items that they do not have to touch. When they get to the checkout they pay, they pick up their car and the box is placed in the trunk again. No need to touch anything.

The future will push us in this direction, it has advantages for everybody. The plants can be more of a special item that we highlight like a mannequin in a clothing store. Lighting and attention for that one plant. Fewer items that are in less than ideal situations in the shopping area, being damaged by customers touching them. For the customer they can get more information, when they select the plant they would like a pop-up with information and planting conditions can come up.

The garden centre can also directly target advertisements for additional items and once this Covid-19 hype has passed we can suggest the customer into the café. You spend this much money you get a free cake with your coffee, while you wait for us to collect your items.

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