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s t or e design STORE DESIGN How can today’s and tomorrow’s garden

centres cope with this onslaught? I think the answer is simple. Make your garden centre a place that people truly want to visit. Make a visit to your garden centre an experience. It is no longer commodity retailing focused around the products, it is now all about how you create a place where people want to be. It is no longer enough to be just a garden

centre. You need to understand what type of garden centre you are. Create a vision and direction for your business and then deliver this in everything you do. You can do this by creating your ideal customer/s and working out how you will provide what they want. Or you can develop an overall idea and key words to describe a vision. Whichever route you follow, a clear vision will help you make decisions about your business as well as helping your team to bring forward ideas. Now it is not enough that you know what your vision is, you have to share it with your staff, your suppliers, your bank manager, in fact everyone who is involved with your business but most of all you must share it with your customers. A visit to any garden centre must be

an experience. You need to offer physical attractions, the things that people can’t get online. Many garden centres are already doing this part very well by providing outstanding restaurant or café facilities, indoor and outdoor play areas and special events like ice skating, but it needs to go further, centres need to appeal to the senses and to the emotions. They need to offer delight, make people smile and send them home happy. For many years we have

been successful at doing this for just a few months of the year with the most amazing Christmas displays, but we have not yet applied this across the rest of the year. For your garden centre to be outstanding

you need to offer a memorable visit to every customer, every hour of every day. We need to build stories around your business and send customers home with something to tell their friends. This can be one of the most powerful forms of advertising – word of mouth (although this is rapidly being replaced by its modern equivalents – Facebook and Twitter). Delivering your vision and making your

centres stand out is best achieved by tackling four keys areas:

The place Overall your buildings, layout, features, shopfittings and displays should tell your story. Either your building should be a stunning piece of architecture or your retail areas should be designed to look fantastic. Too often a small area is given over to a feature, but with a clear vision and great stories to tell, every part of the garden centre should make its contribution. Developing a retail concept and strategy will help to ensure that everything you invest in helps your garden centre to be successful. This will include materials and colours as well as retail principles and ideas to make your vision a reality. To deliver experiences you may need big spaces for large events, indoors or out – perhaps a room adjoining the café or an outdoor events lawn. Also create the details; make a place in every department for a ‘conversation piece’. Add a range of signage around the centre that

does nothing else but tell your story and that will make people smile.

The people Today, in-store retail is about people. We need to see ‘knit and natter’ groups in the café; social areas where friends can meet; staff who speak before they are spoken to and in doing so tell your story. We need to see notice boards about local events and success stories, for example who the local farmer that provided the sausages is. We need to know about local causes you support, maybe the work you are doing in local schools. Perhaps most importantly of all – the team on the shop floor must be ‘people’ people.

Christmas displays are fantastic, but the magic needs to be there all year round


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