Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Facing Challenges

For the last two years at Russell's Nursery, we have been working hard at adding services to our business. We've added several services like marketing, merchandising, freight and several others. As the US economy continues to change, we saw the need to add more value to the plants we grow by adding all of these services.

In my travels as Director of Sales and Marketing, I've been to hundreds of independent garden centers across the US. I've discussed many of the reasons why we added these services to our business and why we wanted to be able to help all our retailers with challenges they are faced with on a daily basis. Some have been surprised that a grower that has been focus on growing the highest quality plants possible for the last thirty years would now add all of these services to their business as well. Just as we've always wanted to provide the best plants for our retailers to sell to their customers, we also want to provide the best services to help our retailers sell plants.

By working in partnership with our retailers, our combined efforts have enabled us to compete moving forward in an evolving retail world. Retail in the US in nearly every category has improved in many ways in the last decade. From brands that provide great visual merchandising displays in their store but also provide products at great value, to grocery stores that have redefined what the grocery experience is for customers. Independent business owners are faced with numerous challenges to compete for consumers.

Because of their size, “Big Box” retailers are sometimes not mentioned as retailers that are able to quickly change and evolve to provide and present product well to their customers. In the last two years, we've also seen major improvement within the garden center category at these Big Box retailers. This past year, they added QR codes and a membership garden club sign-up to their product labeling. They also started to carry product from numerous quality growers that historically haven't been offered at Big Box stores. Now they are moving into yet another area of retailing to better serve their customers.

In several locations across the US, some Big Box stores have created merchandising displays like above. These modest displays not only feature interesting plants many customers are unfamiliar with but they also use companion plants that consumers may also want to purchase. All of the products featured are also all priced at good values to customers. These displays that many would think would be limited to being located in the garden center area are located in the most prime location available at the very entry point of the store. Clearly, there is enough evidence to see that Big Box stores are paying attention to the garden center category.

At Russell's Nursery, we've never sold to Big Box stores and have no immediate plants to start. What we have been planning for the last two years is providing the marketing, merchandising, customer care, freight, and other services that help our retailers to not only compete with Big Box stores but surpass them in the category of plants we grow. Our commitment to provide great plants at great value and working in partnership with our retailers has resulted in many of them seeing selling out of plants in our category that they haven't seen in recent years.

We have been committed to growing our retailers' success by providing the best quality plants, marketing materials, merchandising concepts, and customer services we can. Knowing that the investments into all of these elements will lead to both of our successes.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for not providing to the Box Stores. Your plants deserve a platform devoted to their excellence and should never be overshadowed by a sale on 2x4's and plumbing parts. As a retailer of your plants we appreciate your focus on the independent nursery. Your "trading cards" are unique and I have never seen anything like it as far as marketing a specific plant goes. No growers I know take as much care to ensure sustainability of their stock. I appreciate the ball in a pot method and so do my customers. Thank you for supplying a superior product. Keep up the excellent work.

    Seth Inman
    Bloomington Valley Nursery