July 2020 - 38

ACCENTS AND DÉCOR
in a Post-Pandemic World
Product and
By Michael Bodo
T
he COVID-19 virus has not only transformed the way
we live, but its lingering effects could forever change
how consumers shop for goods and services and what
they deem valuable. While the transition from shopping
exclusively at brick and mortar retailers to online has steadily
taken place over the past two decades, the pandemic served
to accelerate its prominence among consumers.
The impact and toll this has taken on legacy retail has been
nothing short of stunning, with bankruptcy announcements
from once stalwart companies occurring seemingly daily.
One segment that has benefited from this shift, however, are
hardware stores, nurseries and retail garden centers.
This trend had been developing years prior to the COVID-19
outbreak, but was expedited following the shutdown of
many state economies where these businesses were deemed
" essential " to the communities they serve. As a consequence
of this designation, they could remain open while many
competing stores were forced to temporarily close. While
this brought with it many changes and restrictions to how
customers shopped their establishments, it also produced an
outpouring of support from both new and existing customers.
Rediscovering the Joys of Gardening
Independent garden centers are reaping the rewards of this
good will and are selling live plants, herbs, vegetable seeds,
organic fertilizers and soils at record rates and are turning
a whole new generation of consumers on to the joys and
benefits of gardening.
Decorative hardgoods and outdoor living products have
participated in this boom with the trend of extending the
comforts of one's home to their exterior living spaces.
Vacations have once again been replaced with " staycations, "
with consumers spending more time than ever working in
their yards and entertaining outdoors.
The move to organics and eco-friendly products that began
well over a decade ago has solidly taken root with millennial
shoppers. This ethos extends beyond plant material, fertilizer
and pest control, as consumers from all demographics seek
products to accentuate their landscape settings manufactured
38 | LAWN & GARDEN RETAILER | JULY 2020
from sustainable and biodegradable materials. Decorative
outdoor accents produced from natural elements such as glass,
ceramic, metal, wood, concrete and stone are highly sought
after, while those produced by artificial means are avoided.
Merchandising Décor Products
The question we routinely get from retailers is, " How do I
merchandise this? " This was a challenge prior to COVID-19
and has been made more difficult in the era of social
distancing and touch-point reduction.
Given the current environment we are in, it is important for
retailers to have product that is packaged out of harm's way,
yet have it be visually appealing and communicate a message
to the shopper in a glance.
Creating vignettes that romance outdoor decor products -
both inside the garden center and outside - is more important
than ever. Displaying product out of the box inside the store
is crucial, as it gives customers a visual impression of how an
item will look in their landscape or yard. If you're selling garden
stakes, wind spinners, statuary, gazing globes and stands, create
a faux landscape setting with an assortment of product from
those categories displayed assembled with packaged product
nearby or in a stock room that an associate can easily grab and
give to the customer to reduce the occurrence of touching.
Obviously, you can't have retail packaged product outside
unless the materials used are waterproof and UV protected.
What you can do to create curb appeal, however, is produce
virtual homescapes featuring items displayed out of the box
with large waterproof hangtags containing clearly visible SKU
numbers and scannable UPC barcodes to make it easy for
associates to identify and pull packaged inventory from inside
the store to present to the customer. This hearkens to the
time-tested sales motto of " One to show. One to go. "
Although among today's fastest-growing categories, solar
lighting products are arguably the biggest merchandising
challenge independent garden centers face. If the packaging
or point-of-sales materials included with the product
don't effectively communicate what it does or how it looks
illuminated, it becomes a tough sell.
Merchandising Trends

July 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of July 2020

July 2020 - 1
July 2020 - 2
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