Discounting is a common approach to attract customers but does it always end up benefitting your business?


A common approach lots of garden centres take when they want to attract customers is to offer discounts. Is it the best strategy long term to get your desired result? The issue is, discounting may not end up benefitting your business as much as you expected it would. 

The majority of garden centres can’t compete in an ‘everyday low price’ environment and such a strategy can replace the idea of value with a sense of cheapness in the minds of customers.

Yes, there will always be people who either by necessity must keep a tight rein on their purse strings or who by habit like to shop for bargains or who like to pay less for garden maintenance necessities.

Discounting is one of the strategies you can use in the short term to drive sales volume and get more customers in store but there are downsides.

Discount pricing can lower perceived value. There are consumer studies that show customers who paid full price for a product were more satisfied than those who paid discounted rates. Once they had bought the discounted product they thought of it as lower quality. Those who paid full price expected a better service and their evaluation adapted to this higher expectation

You risk losing profit from lower margins. While some of your discounted sales might be from people who wouldn’t have bought, you can lose profit margins from others who would have bought anyway

Discounting isn’t the only method to convey value to customers. There are many ways we can show value or create a perception of value without discounting:

  • Multi buys in every department
  • Bundling, for example, a hanging basket kit, fruit trees for a small garden; or sell popular and less popular products together
  • Bold red price signs convey value
  • A tiered offer – good, better, best
  • Hold three or four sales each year to drive volume
  • Clear ageing seasonal stock to minimise loss and maximise stock turn which will free up cash and space for fresh stock in demand
  • Be competitive on key price sensitive lines
  • Develop a loyalty programme that adds value and exclusive offers, not just discounts
  • Organise social events for enthusiasts of all kinds and offer savings.

For most customers, it’s the happy experience they have while shopping in the garden centre that is of greater importance.  It’s easy to be too busy blunting our pencils writing discounts that we run out of time to make sure we have the basics in order that keep customers coming back:
  • Clean, tidy premises and gardens, dust free showroom, fresh looking stock.
  • Clear paths, signs to locate departments and find what they want
  • A smile for every customer, respect for all, service oriented.
  • Clearly noticeable prices and product information.
  • Appealing presentation with eye-catching displays and lots of ideas to take away.
  • An inviting ambience - the fresh scent and healthy living feel of plants and flowers; a relaxing atmosphere
  • Invitations to join your garden club, join in events; learn about gardening
  • A place to socialise with friends and family of all ages.
- Joy Lamb