Garden Retail Success mentor Steve Myatt has suggested garden centres need to control how customers navigate garden centres in the same way webmasters do for online stores.
Myatt said staying ahead with technology means centres need to ensure they make the most of the customer experience.
"If we give customers a fantastic ‘clicks’ experience, then it’s in our interest to give them a fantastic ‘bricks’ experience if we want to maintain a healthy cash flow and a reputation for being a ‘best in town’ garden centre.
"We ask our webmasters to build an online store that is easy to navigate, easy for people to find your full range of products and information; clearly display your best offers and is appealing and interesting enough to hold their attention before they jump off to continue their surfing."
He said that wide paths have been used by landscapers for centuries to control the way people walk through gardens to easily see everything and that "smart retailers" use the same technique to ensure their customers see the whole of their garden centre, notice specials, notice ideas, find what they want, encourage impulse buys and enjoy the experience.
Myatt suggested creating a ‘Great Walk’ where customers are taken on a pre-determined route and the opportunity for them to take alternative routes or short-cuts is minimised.
"Provide them with a wide, paved, main pathway that is easy to stroll along on and leads them within viewing proximity of all categories."
He advised centres to locate the product most people come to the store for, eg bedding plants/veg seedlings and cafes, away from the entrance, towards the back of the under-cover or the back of the plant area.
- Allow them to see everything.
- Allow them to experience the most attractive gift displays and garden ideas along the main path.
- Allow them to soak up your home and outdoor living collections of the latest trends along the main path.
- Allow them to see advertised lines along the main path.
- Allow them to see popular, seasonal, flowering – the most attractive plants - along the main path.
- And the final important ingredient - use signs to communicate, inform, inspire and guide.