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floral strategies

Here are seven ways to keep money-conscious consumers buying your products.

by Pam Smith

    Last year was certainly a difficult one. All aspects of our economy have been affected, and we donít know when this terrible economic situation is going to turn around.
     The grocery industry is one of the few bright spots in the world of retail. In October, the Commerce Department reported that grocers reported steady increases in same-store sales. The latest data shows that restaurants have been hit hard, with families eating at home rather than going out to eat two or three times a week. That means more sales for grocery stores. People gotta eat, right?
     But grocery stores, with their tight margins, are hardly recession-proof. Americans are looking at ways to cut everyday household expenses, putting a strain on stores that donít offer competitive prices and appealing promotions.

floralís response
     The floral department is such a small part of total store sales that we have to be more attentive to what we are doing than ever before. With your customers being cautious with every purchase they make, it is more important than ever to make your department the most interesting and irresistible it can be. Here are some ideas:

MAKE YOUR DEPARTMENT SPARKLE This is January, a typically slow time for floral sales. Use this slower period to give your entire department a good review and cleanup. Polish all your glassware. Inspect every plant on your display floor, and remove spent blooms, add water and trim off damaged foliage. Using a bit of leaf shine can make many green plants more appealing. Get rid of merchandise that is no longer salable. It just makes your department look sad. Spend some time in your storage areas, and clean out all of the bits and pieces that have been around for eons.

CONSIDER COUPONS
Work with your floral director and store manager to determine whether an in-store coupon promotion is right for you. Because of the current economy, shoppers are using coupons for a variety of products and services. Perhaps a coupon offer for a local high-school, church or civic organization will help stimulate slow sales. You can always provide an in-store floral coupon when the customer checks out at the register.

USE A SCALPEL
Carefully review your weekly order guide. One of the most frequent problems I encounter in store visits is departments that order one of everything offered in the guide. Treat the order guide as just thatóa guide to what you should be offering. Take a good look at your overall weekly inventory, and bring in only what is selling. Until things shake out, you may need to hold back on ordering items that sell only one or two units a week and order more of the best-selling floral products.

STOCK STORE BRANDS
With these changes in consumer spending, an interesting winner has emerged in the shopping experience. Private-label brand sales are surging. If your chain has a private-label floral item, are you making a big deal out of the quality and the superb value? If you arenít, you should be.

BUY LOCALLY
Local products have been a boon to produce sales. Adopt the same strategy in floral. If your greenhouse provides locally grown plants or the name of your local greenhouse is well known, capitalize on the ďbuy localĒ strategy. I would be willing to bet that your local growers will be more than delighted to help you develop the right graphics and wording.

OFFER LOYALTY CARDS Consider having a punch card that gives a free bunch of flowers or a plant after a specific number of repeat sales. I have loyalty cards in my wallet for bird seed, coffee, sandwiches and ice cream.

SHOW VALUE Shoppers are buying down. Make certain that your signs and the message they communicate are clear and the price is clearly marked. Consumers in a recent floral focus group at the Produce Marketing Associationís (PMA) Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition were clear in telling the audience that when a retail price canít be found easily, they generally walk away.

Pam Smith, AAF, PFCI, is director of marketing for Natureís Flowers. Her background includes five years as a supermarket floral director, 10 years with Teleflora and eight years as a traditional florist. Reach her at (314) 966-5763.

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