What's Your Image?

What's Your Image?

by Danny Summers

I am writing this at or near the end of the spring season and certainly there is a place for specials and clearance sales at this time, but that is not what I am thinking about here. Instead, it is a general question.

Throughout the year, what is your center's image to your audience?

I have to preface these thoughts with the understanding my first retail training was Sears Roebuck & Co. and I will come back to that later. But, I really got this thought going through my emails and have come to realize almost daily I receive an email from Eddie Bauer offering some crazy high percent-off discount. It happens so often that now, if I want to consider either ordering online or, more often, visiting one of our local EB stores, I make sure I have one of the XX% off coupon emails handy. This has become the norm and mentally I think I would have a real problem paying regular price at Eddie Bauer. It is not that their products are over priced but I am so accustomed to having 40, 50, 60 and even 70% off most of the time.

Here's an example of a retailer that has driven down their sales (and profit) potential by training their audience to expect huge discounts. OK, now back to my Sears training...

"Back in the day" Sears had so many SKUs that were very closely seen as the same item. For example, they would have two washers that, to the customer, they were all but identical. This developed because the Federal Trade Commission monitored Sears for having an item on sale so often and so long, that it could no longer call the "regular price" the regular price. As a result of these multiple SKUs, one of the two washers could be on sale almost all the time and by-pass the FTC rulings. Sears customers were trained not to buy unless it was on sale.

Never On Sale is not necessarily the right strategy either. You may remember, J.C. Penny's move a few years back to become the new home of  "fair and square” everyday low pricing scheme to replace the “fake prices” used commonly in the past. It was 2011 and their new CEO came from Apple, but there was just one problem... they weren't selling $800 iPhones.  They were known as a soft-lines merchant and while it was a refreshing approach, it resulted in Penny's loosing over 50% of its market value and by 2013, their new CEO was replaced.

A Balanced Approach: For our industry, there is a place for both sale strategies and certainly there is a time for specials, clearances, etc., but overall taking the high road to helping your audience to be creative, to inspire them about their garden, backyards and finding the joy in plants, seems to be the right balance. I can hear Robert Hendrickson telling you how to tell your story and it's not by pushing items for easy price comparisons. As I share these ideas with you, I ask you to think about your center's year-round image in the eyes of your customer.

How often do they see you offering big discounts, special sales, and shouting low prices?

Guard yourself from becoming the Eddie Bauer of Garden Retailing!

Want to discuss your center's strategies and make plans for a new approach to pricing, promotions and how your center's image can be better in the coming seasons? Give me a call to connect to the right Group Service Provider for help. Whether it's Robert Hendrickson, Steve Bailey, Sid Raisch or others, we can help!

Let's talk soon!

The Garden Center Group has become North America's Resource for Garden Retailing, building a sharing community with industry-leading benchmarking since 2001.
Danny Summers
Group Office: 678-909-7770


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