By Brian Minter
By Brian Minter
We’re all searching for new revenue sources to build sales, to level out seasonal sales and to become a more year-round destination. We need to be not only creative in this search, but also wise and very business-like.
It’s not just about going to gift and hardware shows to find some new things; it’s more a matter of devising a strategy to differentiate ourselves from all the competition.
|Fairy gardens were popular at this year’s Cultivate’14 show in Columbus.
We need to understand our own customer demographics, why they shop at our stores and how they are changing. Have we done consumer surveys to discover what else they might like us to carry? We also need to carefully look at our product categories to get a sense of growth or decline. Could value-adding boost those categories and further strengthen their SKUs?
I’m convinced it’s far easier and more profitable to grow a category by adding value. Take cut flowers for an example. Do we sell just cuts or do we sell some unique, attractive vases along with them? Vases are an easy up-sell, particularly for special occasions, and once there are nice empty vases at home, what an opportunity for the householder to keep them full year round!
It’s important to have a critical mass and selection of vases in order to dominate this category in your area. They need to be unique, price-ranged appropriately and displayed beautifully. They are a year-round gift item as well as a value-add to the floral department.
The same is true of tropical plants. So many are gifted or purchased for newer homes, but they are generally sold in a nursery pot. Why not sell them in a fantastic container? It’s also a great add-on if the customer doesn’t need to scramble looking for a saucer when they get home.
Speaking of which, saucers are often so poorly merchandized that they should almost be a category themselves. Do we carry square and rectangular saucers for both pots and planters? Do we have a great selection of plant caddies so our customers can roll our beautiful containers and pots around their patios or homes?
If we carry bonsai and orchid plants, do we have the specialty pots for both as a value-added finished product? These are easy sales that will add greatly to the shopping experience in your store and will definitely boost this sales category.
The interest in succulents is huge right now, and they look especially striking in low ceramic bowls and rock planters. Cactus sales too are still strong, and specialty desert planters make them look far more attractive. Having a good selection of these popular items, displayed well in unique planters, can really up those sales nicely.
The other “hotties” right now are the tillandsias (air plants) that just do not quit. The specialty glassware that complements these plants sells very well, especially to millennials. It’s important to present these unusual plants and their beautiful glass containers in an attractive manner using metal or artificial trees or branches from which to hang them.
Well-made, creative aeriums are great gifts, and they help give folks ideas for making their own. Adding the fairy element in this category has been a great success for us. You need to really show how it’s done with inspirational fairy and tillandsia creations.
We’ve also had great success with greeting cards, many of which are on consignment. If you stock a critical mass and have a great selection with good humour, they will tie nicely into gift and floral sales.
The forcing bulb season, which really takes off pre-Christmas, creates a wonderful opportunity for selling forcing bulbs, like paperwhites and amaryllis, pre-planted in stunning containers. Many folks would never think to put bulbs in a container to give as a gift. The more creative you can be with some “cool” ideas, the stronger bulb sales will become. Some bulb suppliers bring in European vases just for this purpose. Unique glassware that displays the bulb’s roots has always been a hit.
Seasonal items have so much potential if they are used in exceptionally creative displays that folks can visualize and recreate in their homes. Pumpkin sales are especially good in autumn but so are half-sized hay bales, corn stalks, cut grasses and a full line of fall décor. Too often we price these products and walk away, however, by using porches, steps and doors as imaginative display pieces, sales can be dramatically increased. Tweeting out pictures of these clever tableaux will bring in more young folks than you would ever expect.
A sense of humour, incorporated into our stores’ product lines and signage, is a big factor that we tend to overlook these days, perhaps because we’ve become a little too sophisticated. Doormats that say things like “Go Away” or “Nice Underwear” almost sell themselves – especially to that younger demographic. Plaques with some edgy humour do well too, and they add an element of fun in your store. Crazy pots, seed bombs and mason jars are some of the neat stuff younger folks are looking for. Humour is a great theme, and with a critical mass, items like these will do well.