Getting Online With Customers

March 22, 2011
Written by
The results are in. After months spent polling you on the ins and outs of your garden centre, we’re happy to present the findings of our Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery 2011 National Reader Survey. If you want to know the size of a typical garden centre, how much customers usually spend on each transaction or what the industry average for annual sales comes in at, and much more, check out our survey results in “How Do You Stack Up?” on page 14.

As soon as the results started rolling in, we were eager to share the numbers with you. The Canadian garden centre industry is not one where there are solid statistics and figures readily available to benchmark your business, but we are hoping to change that.

From the magazine’s perspective, the survey gave us insight into your buying habits, wage averages and profit margins, and it highlighted the challenges you face and areas for future growth. We asked garden centres to tell us what they believe will be the biggest opportunity in the next two to five years: catering to new gardeners and the younger generation garnered the most votes. Fifty-four per cent of you cited this as a significant opportunity.

Younger shoppers have the potential to represent a large chunk of sales, but in order to capitalize on this, garden centres need to employ new tactics and techniques to reach out to this group. It’s no secret that the new generation relies on computers and smartphones as its top sources of information, and is constantly connected to the online world. That’s where you need to be too, but our survey reveals that not everyone is on the same wavelength. Eighty per cent of you report having a website – what about the other 20 per cent? It’s unacceptable in today’s retail world not to have some type of web presence and this puts your garden centre at a serious disadvantage. Sixty-five per cent of our respondents say they don’t publish a regular e-newsletter, which is another huge missed opportunity. Aside from the time involved to set one up, e-newsletters are a cheap direct marketing tool that you can use to send a specific message to your clients, and in turn monitor their reactions through open rates and click-throughs. It’s also a great way to remind shoppers to stop in to your store for a fresh new shipment of annuals, to let them know about your latest promotion or to pass on your plant expertise.

And in case you haven’t heard enough about these sites yet, let’s talk Facebook and Twitter. Thirty-seven per cent of you are already on the Facebook wagon and seven per cent have a Twitter account. There’s no stronger marketing tool to reach young consumers right now. It will take time to maintain these social networks and you do have to commit to doing it on a regular basis, but this is an ideal way to remain top of mind come spring when the garden needs attention. Offer small, but enticing, deals through your social networks and you’ll start pulling in more young customers. This is how your new customer communicates and so must you.

As you gear up for the spring rush, take a hard look at your website and online marketing efforts. Be ready to tweet, e-blast and Google your way to a great selling season.

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