Top 10 Business Challenges & Opportunities for IGCs

By: John Stanley

From: Garden Chic, Best of Show Issue, 2012

Top 10 Business Challenges & Opportunities for IGCs
“The Year of the Dragon,” “the last year of the Mayan Calender” - 2012 has been given many tags. Let’s make 2013 the year of the “E Factor.” These top 10 business challenges and opportunities cannot be ignored if you’re planning on a successful year to come - and, for ease of recall, they all begin with the letter “e.”

The Big ‘Es’
1. Enthusiasm - More consumers are shopping online. It became part of many consumers’ shopping habits during last year’s Christmas season. One of the reasons for this shift was that, in the eyes of the consumer, many retail shopping journeys had become boring. They would walk into a store and be confronted by sales staff who seemed disinterested in them and the products they were selling.

The garden centres that will realise success going into the future are those that understand enthusiasm is contagious. If you are enthusiastic about dealing with your customers and the products you’re selling, it will become infectious, and people will start talking about your store to their friends and family.

2. Experiences - Consumers are time-poor. When they do go shopping, they’re going for the experience. Many of the products we sell can now be purchased easier online. If consumers are going to come to your garden centre to purchase the product, they’re looking for an experience, a memorable journey they will want to repeat. Give it to them.

3. E-retailing - Time limitations have become a major problem for multitasking consumers. They have their favourite brands and stores, and they do not seek substitutes. They want to come to your garden centre when they have time for the experience - but, when faced with limited time, they want to go online and get the same product from your store. E-retailing is now part of the retail mix. Garden centres without an e-store will start to lose market share.

4. Entertainment - Successful retailing has moved on from selling “stuff;” consumers now want to be entertained - and if they have a young family, they want you to entertain their children, too. The garden centres that provide the best entertainment will be the ones preferred by the savvy consumer. Work closely with a range of local providers to offer a variety of entertainment that will keep with what you do and what your customers enjoy.

5. Events - To keep customers coming back, create events to keep your garden centre top of mind. Planning events based on the seasons and local activities will become crucial.

6. Education - People want to learn new skills. The new consumer is a DIYer who is prepared to experiment. Customers want to look to you as their local garden expert who can teach them new skills. Your education programme can become a new profit centre for the business. Develop education both on-site and off-site using social media so that consumers can learn from you at a time that suits them.

7. Expert - During the last few years, the retail scene has become overcrowded - there are too many retailers selling the same thing. The retailers taking the high ground will become the experts in the consumer’s mind. There is only room for one expert garden centre in your community.

8. Evangelist - You need to become the advocate for gardening and everything surrounding it. Consumers are looking for leaders who are passionate. You need a team of enthusiasts, and as the team leader, you need to be the evangelist who sells the message to your team and the community. You need to be recognised by the media as the expert - one who is passionate and provides new ideas and solutions and understands consumers’ challenges.

9. Experiment - Try new things. The old way doesn’t work; we all need to find new ways of doing what we used to do. The winners will be open to experiment and to find ways of creating new journeys for the consumer.

10. Emotion - Emotion and social contact is more important than price. To be memorable, you need passion, emotion and identity. Connect with your customers.

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