Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mobile Shopping

I'll admit it. I have a cell phone that, while not quite the Zack Morris phone, is still pretty 20th Century. Additionally, things like using your smartphone while shopping to allow you to find products faster just seems like something out of a Back To The Future movie to me (you know, the one where they go forward in time - which I might add is to 2015, only five short years away).

But it's pretty much here. According to an article in The Dallas Morning News, more and more retailers are using mobile apps as a way to entice customers to buy more while they are in the stores.

We've always said garden center retailers aren't just competing against other garden retailers and box stores, but also against any retailer that trades in discretionary income (i.e. restaurants, salons and spas, gaming and tech retailers, etc.)

So the question is, what are garden center retailers doing to join the fray when it comes to using mobile apps to enhance the shopping experience? We already know of a couple garden centers using Microsoft Tags, or QR tags (also known as smart tags, 2-D tags, etc.) to provide more plant information to customers while in the stores.

How else can retailers capitalize on in-store apps? Let's take the discussion here and see what comes up!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bellagio Conservatory Transformation

The horticultural crew at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas change over the conservatory there five times a year. I've always been enamored with the conservatory, as they just do an absolutely beautiful job. I've seen it at least three times, and it's always been stunning. I think my favorite was the Monet display, with a ton of spring bulbs and a Japanese footbridge.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Loyalty: Supporting Other Local Businesses

OK, two posts in one day? Shocking, right? And they're both about loyalty programs. I just saw a story about a loyalty program in Portland, Ore. that features 50 local businesses. So the customer gets a loyalty card and uses it at any of those 50 businesses for points that accumulate.

There's even a garden shop on there: Naomi's Organic Farm Supply. The program is called Supportland, and you can read about the program in the FAQs.

As the proud owner of multiple key fobs, this sounds awesome to me. No more fumbling with multiple fobs when you can just swipe or scan the one card. Apparently an iPhone app is in the works, too.

Use Your Loyalty Program Wisely

I have a great example of a way to use your loyalty program to add benefit to your customer. And, it takes a negative event and spins it positively toward your store.

My son's formula was recently recalled by Similac, which made me upset and angry (it had bugs in it, which also grosses me out to no end). The recall made the news on the web Wednesday night (Sept. 23).

By Thursday (Sept. 24) we had a message on our answering machine from our local grocery store, Giant Eagle. It was the store manager, saying according to their records someone in our household had purchased a can of Similac in the last 18 months and what to do with it.

To me, this is proactive and very much appreciated. If I hadn't been on the web the night before, I wouldn't have known about it. Giant Eagle staff reacted quickly, using the data in the loyalty program to notify us before my poor little man had to ingest any more bugs.

This just strengthens my loyalty to the store, and gives me even more incentive to shop there. Now, you likely won't have too many instances of recalled products, but using your loyalty program proactively is still a great lesson.

You could use it to help buyers in a certain ZIP code that had weather damage, or to let buyers of certain products know it's time to fertilize their particular plant. Have another idea? Post it in the comments below!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reinvigorating The Blog

Whew. Well, that was an undeserved break in the action. I'm going to try to get this blog back up and running again. Luckily, all it takes is a few posts to get it back in shape (unlike myself, which will take far more work).

I just saw an interesting story on Retail Wire about a new study showing 94 percent of grocery shoppers use a list when at the store. Several retail and grocery types are lamenting the lack of impulse opportunities with this blasted list.

One comment caught my attention, though. It said while 94 percent of shoppers use a list, other data shows 80 percent of brand decisions are made at the shelf. Those numbers don't have to be in conflict, the commenter says, because the list is rather generic: eggs, milk, bread, etc. It's the job of the packaging and the POP to sell the brand.

Just something to think about when merchandising, even at the garden center. The customer may come in with a list that says sun annuals, but its the job of the merchandising to sell the product. And entice the customer to add on some much-needed tools, fertilizer, pots, etc.