Workshop Offers Plant Retail Advice
Plant growers and retailers across Wales gained valuable tips on how to make their displays stand out at a free workshop led by one of the UK’s most renowned garden industry experts.
Horticulture Wales hosted its ‘Merchandising for Ornamentals’ event last month at Moreton Park Garden Centre near Wrexham to help horticulture businesses learn how to present, manage, and display their plants and flowers in the most effective ways to engage with customers.
Around 15 representatives from garden centres and nurseries across Wales joined the session, which was led by Paul Pleydell, Director of consultancy PleydellSmithyman, voted number 32 in industry bible Horticulture Week’s annual ‘Garden Retail Power 100’ of key influencers, and as a regular speaker for organisations including the HTA, GCA, and GIMA, recognised as one of the most engaging experts on the circuit.
Paul outlined the increasing competition faced by growers and garden centres from large retailers, such as supermarkets, and the popularity of internet sales, as well as the growing consumer trend of looking for a ‘quick win’ rather than long-term gardening projects. Facing this environment, and with plants predominantly still seen as a luxury item, he claimed it is more important than ever that garden centres focus on creating a shopping ‘experience’.
He warned the group against competing on price alone, as there can only ever be one business that can offer the lowest cost. Instead, he explained the importance of staff speaking directly with customers and finding out ways to engage with them. According to Paul, product arrangements inside nurseries or garden centres should be changed frequently to provide a sense of something new, while high quality accompanying pictures and point of sale materials are also essential. Careful consideration is required, too, when designing the overall store layout – including paths and walkways – to enable the retailer to control customer flow and how they walk around the plant sales areas.
While it is crucial that nurseries and garden centres convey their passion for plants, Paul revealed that providing too much product choice can sometimes actually end up confusing and overwhelming customers. Garden centres have traditionally been horticultural product driven, rather than customer driven, however the majority of consumers will be enthusiastic ‘amateurs’ rather than horticultural experts who, for example, will know the Latin names of plants, so it’s vital that retailers make themselves (and their displays) as appealing and accessible as possible.
Paul concluded by advising garden centres, where possible, to stock plant varieties that can easily be grown in local conditions, while he also recommended the group visit as many garden centres and nurseries as possible to find examples of best practice, as well as sources of inspiration and ideas.
Alyson Haywood, General Manager at Moreton Park Garden Centre, also shared her insight with attendees. She agreed with Paul that it is important for staff not to assume that customers know as much about plants as they do, and in many cases it is their role to demystify the entire experience. Alyson also stressed how vital it is to make sure plant displays are proportioned correctly, and whilst colour is obviously key in creating emotions and contrasts, she cautioned against the use of too much red and blue.