1. Use an integrated email marketing tool to improve customer communication. Many people think of products like MailChimp and Constant Contact as marketing tools. They are ideal for that, but they can do a whole lot more. Consider using these products for automated messaging that is not marketing related. For example, you can welcome customers to your loyalty program, explain your standard terms and conditions, provide instructions for site preparation before landscaping services, and send planting and care instructions post purchase. Setting up automated workflows based on interactions with your brand gives you the opportunity to keep customers engaged with relevant and meaningful content outside of your typical marketing messaging.
2. Centralize care and culture information about the plants you sell in your POS system. This information can be used in a variety of materials, including on signs, labels and tags. You can also create plant information sheets that can be printed and emailed to customers quickly and on demand.
3. Consider volume-based pricing models to encourage more sales. Many stores use multiple pricing, i.e. “buy x, get 1 free” or “buy x, and get y% off your purchase” as a way to increase sales. Reward customers to purchase by the case or multi-pack. You can also offer deals such as, “buy 6 over the next three months and get the 7th free.” This works great for products like bags of topsoil, mulch, flats and more, and even better if the product is something that can be used year-round.
4. Use on-screen prompts to help your staff know when to up-sell. Leverage the capabilities of a robust POS system to prompt for companion products, delivery, installation and more. For example, when you sell a tree or shrub, have the system alert the clerk to suggest a great fertilizer to use when planting. When selling a cord of firewood, have the system prompt to offer to have the wood delivered and stacked. In the Rapid Garden POS system, these are called “sales kits” or “tag-a-long items,” and they are often not utilized to their full potential.
5. Plan and optimize your check-out experience prior to spring. When you are busy, customers who cannot wait end up walking out the door. During your winter downtime, put together a plan on how to streamline your check-out experience. Ask your cashiers if they have ideas on how to improve any bottlenecks. Your ultimate plan could involve things like temporary stations or mobile devices that “line bust” by pre-ringing tickets out in the yard or while a customer is in line. You can also brainstorm ideas with your POS provider. Something as simple as adding a few smart touch buttons on your POS stations can substantially enhance the check-out process.
6. Consider club or subscription-based offerings. Garden centers are finding creative ways to address customer needs and drive traffic into their stores — even during the slower times of the year. One great example of this is the use of clubs where customers come to the store to pick up their monthly or quarterly plant arrangement. Consider a “4 seasons” subscription, where each quarter the subscriber receives a seasonal planter. Customers pay now for items that will be provided over the coming year. Your customers can purchase a subscription for themselves or as a gift, and it also brings people into the garden center throughout the year. This is great for folks who like to have fresh planters and holiday-themed containers, but maybe don’t have the time or the space to plant up the pots. Subscription or club offerings can be complex, so be sure to discuss your ideas with your technology provider well in advance to find ways to best utilize your system to support these kinds of activities.