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CGC’16: Taking your retailing to the next level of sales success

August 11, 2016  By Dave Harrison

John Stanley

September 2016 – One of the industry’s leading retailing consultants will be especially busy at CGC’16.

John Stanley is one of the world’s most sought-after garden centre specialists and is frequently asked to speak at workshops, study tours and conferences throughout the year.

As a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), he is one of the world’s top 10 per cent of professional speakers.


Stanley is part of the Wednesday (Oct. 5) afternoon Garden Centre program, and will discuss “Passport to Excellence: 10 Tips from Garden Centres Around the World.”

On Thursday (Oct. 6) he will lead a two-part Garden Centre workshop entitled, “Passport to Excellence: Make Sure You Own Your Market.”

Stanley began his career teaching nursery management and retailing at a college in the U.K. He had a knack for helping stores improve sales, and that prompted the formation of his global consultancy firm – John Stanley Associates – that is celebrating 40 years of service this year.

The industry has changed a great deal in that time, he says.

“We have moved from nursery gate sales to independent garden centres, to the arrival of the ‘box’ store retailers, and then to online retailing in those 40 years. Only the innovators and the best can survive that.”

High-tech lifestyles have changed the needs of customers and businesses must create solutions for them and provide new experiences.

“Baby boomers loved gardening and millennials love being in the garden,” says Stanley. “Plant knowledge is greater with the baby boomers. Lifestyle and food plants are what the millennials are looking for.”

As for common mistakes garden centres make with merchandising, he said they often make things too complicated for consumers. “We’re making it too difficult for customers to shop easily.”

Social media is critically important to any marketing program, and “Facebook is the major marketing tool used by leading retailers.”

The key for independent retailers is to create in-store retail excitement. The challenge is how to develop that using cost-effective techniques. The real keys are:

  • Consumer engagement.
  • Theatrical displays.
  • Effective merchandising.

The Passport To Excellence workshops, he explains, involve adopting low-cost ideas “and then making them work for your business.”

It’s important to make sure you own your market. Thursday’s workshops (Oct. 6) “will look at the practical ways of owning the garden market in your catchment area. It will look at what you do to stand out from the crowd in the consumer’s mind.”

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