Be Helpful

A layout of plants by end use ticks the customer service and convenience boxes for shoppers.


I recently came across an article about the secrets a garden nursery manager shared with her customers when shopping for plants. Her no1 secret was to read the plant labels carefully.

Is that helpful advice to people who have little gardening knowledge and would have difficulty finding a plant that would grow well in the place they have in mind and would meet their criteria?

If we want to sell plants to all generations of gardeners, it's our role to be pro-active and help them.
The easiest way is through the use of signs to guide them to first find the right plant for the right place or for the reason they have in mind.

If we erect specific signs that define the end use, for example ‘Clay soils’ ‘Shady Characters’  ‘Fragrance’ or plants for a blue garden’; customers can easily see where to go in our plant area to find plants that meet their purpose or reason for coming to the garden centre.
A number of garden retailers now use signage or banners that look quite different from their usual category and sub-category signage. They make a statement and they are highly visible.

Customers look for plants for many, many different reasons. These are some that retailers could set up permanently: The Edible Garden; Container Plants for Patios, Balconies & Decks; Screening, Shelter & Privacy; Birds & bees; Ground Covers; Hedges & Edges; Fragrant Garden; Texture & Foliage; Formal Garden; Plants for Clay; Small Narrow Gardens; Under Trees.  Others could be seasonal: Woodland; Shade; Cottage; Hot & Dry; Windy Spaces; White garden; Japanese Garden; Plants for Gifts.
Yes, it will sometimes mean there will be plants that are suitable for 2 or 3 end use categories and it makes stock control a little more challenging but we know of a four-fold increase in sales in the case of lavenders.
Products that don’t suit your end use theme or where the volume is too great, will continue to be located in your sub-category range, for example perennials, roses; topiary, camellias etc.
The strategy behind end use layout is to: 
  • Make it easy for customers to select plants for their garden situation or the purpose they have in mind
  • Assist their selection process with clear signage and information to help them make the right choice
  • Present plants in a way that generates an “Ah ha! That’s what I want” moment.
  • Merchandise with the end use in mind to maximise every sale.

Not only does this increase sales, it allows more customers to serve themselves and it provides a very good point of difference which is a tangible customer benefit. For these reasons we should let customers know through in-store communication, information brochures; newsletters, social media and our websites that we have made shopping easier for them.
- Joy Lamb