Three Steps To Help Customers Spend

Apr 8, 2016 10 Comments


Another spring arrives with national brand TV ads reminding America to get out in the garden, but also brings thousands of new items on the shelf or bench. We are not making it easier for customers to spend!

Consumers are eager yet hesitant to start gardening. Excited to feel the sun, share little discoveries with their loved ones and drool over their first homegrown tomato. But hesitant about the shopping process and memories of last year’s failure to launch.

Many customers this month may not have been garden shopping since last Memorial Day! Meanwhile, they’ve found even more ways to use their “spare” time. Gardening is now up against binge-watching the latest Netflix release. Shoppers are faced with “ConSKUsion,” more products to consider in less time. The world has changed since 2006: has the retail journey in your store (or on your website)?

So as 85 million households invade garden retail stores and/or websites, put yourself in their muckboots and walk through their expectations in your store.

They may be looking for a few “destination” items (tomatoes or weed killer) but are prepared to buy a lot more (and stay longer) if the experience is fun, easy and time-effective. In the next 10 weeks your customers want:

1.       Simplicity when they shop

2.       Emotional Value as they buy

3.       Success when they use it at home

How simple is it to find those destination items and understand all the verbiage? “Fear of Failure” is constantly cited as a reason for low spending, even in high-earning households.

How much emotional value is there in the sales message? Does the team or the merchandising connect the dots during the shopping process? If customers imagine their dog on a safe, weed-free lawn or the “cool” comments they’d get about their succulent planter, they are much more likely to justify the value and make the purchase.

What are the chances of success with the product – be honest!? People in the industry tend to forget how hard it can be to keep living things alive (I hear the same disbelief from a “techy” when I have a problem with my smartphone….)  But failure this year means even less spent next year by those customers.

So, use these three basic concepts: simplicity, value and success to critique your store this spring and tell me how you scored.

Tune back in for the next subject coming up in the spring blog series: “Simplicity is the Word.”

Happy spring!

Photo Credit:  Ian Baldwin, taken at a should-not-be-named retailer

  1. Julie Ruf
    Apr 11, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Simplicity is so key
    We strive to make the shopping experience streamline
    Well said Ian
    Thank you

    1. Ian Baldwin
      Apr 11, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      Thanks for your quick response Julie. I know in your quick, short spring in NV you have to keep shopping focused and easy. Let me know how this “Three Step Program” works for your team! Stay tuned for another blog next week.

  2. Mick gainan
    Apr 12, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Thanks Ian,
    This continues to reinforce the message we are constantly training on, we are always pushing the relationship value and how important that is.
    This will be easy to present,

    1. Ian Baldwin
      Apr 12, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Good to hear from sunny Montana, thanks Mick for the validation. I agree with you the key here is to build the relationship by making the shopping experience fun and relative to the customer’s needs and concerns. Too often, sales people worry too much about losing the sale instead of creating the purchase!

  3. Art Vanden Enden
    Apr 12, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Keep it simple and remember that people that truly understand industry jargon, do not need your help. We need more new successful gardeners. it can be so rewarding to hear about customers being excited about their positive experiences.

    1. Ian Baldwin
      Apr 12, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      Art, how nice to hear from a GCU-er, thanks for taking the time! New customers are the lifeblood but the difference this time around is that the competition for their time and money just gets tougher and tougher. So each spring we have one chance to keep them interested, with even a small success, that we can build on next visit. Customers are no longer into a lifetime of failure-based learning are they! Have a great Canadian spring!

  4. john heaton
    Apr 12, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Now I know what to go over with all the staff at our next meeting. It all so true. It must me simple, have value to the customer and be emotional fulfilling all while we are telling them a story. Ten things to do the same thing is confusing and a silly inventory practice. We need to say NO to some purchases and say NO to come customer sales when we know it is not or confusing best for our customers.. They will them believe in us and buy so much more over time with out the need to discount etc.

    Ian keep the information coming.

    1. Ian Baldwin
      Apr 12, 2016 at 4:34 pm

      John, welcome back to another GCU grad! Good point about the story; the next challenge is how to tell that without words being said, while retaining the emotional part. I am glad to hear a veteran garden retailer like you advocate less inventory choice, most retailers still have far too many options in plants and garden supplies. Thanks again John, look for part 2 for your next week’s meeting!

  5. Sue Goodwin
    May 5, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    It seems packaging designers (chemical companies, I’m talking to you) are trying to out-shout each other with garish design and colors that almost vibrate. They forget the reason people garden and spend time outdoors is to relax, and to enjoy the natural world’s sights and sounds. Calming color schemes can help gel your thoughts and should draw a customer’s eye by organized presentation. Forget the cacophonous displays of competing primary colors and focus on getting the message across in an easily identifiable manner with simple and professional signage.

  6. Ian Baldwin
    May 13, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Sue, good point, I am with you on that. I think one reason for the “deer in the headlights” look of many new garden shoppers is brain-overwhelm from packaging color and messages. And don’t even start the conversation about the constantly changing look of brand packaging. It’s as if the brand managers are constantly trying to win an in-house creativity competition and the true goal of packaging gets lost in the process. Thanks so much for joining in the conversation!

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