A new coalition of green industry experts plans to help independent garden centers (IGCs) reap the rewards of the millennial market.
Centered around Smart Plant Home, an app designed to track customers’ plant purchasing habits and provide professional growing advice — with the ability for retailers to link directly to the customer to suggest care, purchases and promotions — the alliance offers a cohesive network of services for IGCs. Members of the coalition include:
- Bert Wahlen, CEO, Smart Plant Home: An app trusted by hundreds of thousands of plant owners and created with independent garden centers in mind, Smart Plant Home features products, plants, videos,and information customized by IGC and per user. With 89% of the app’s audience falling into the 18-44 age demographic, Smart Plant Home aims to attract a younger audience to IGCs.
- Shaun Quinlan, president and CEO, Prince Corporation: The company has a customer network of more than 3,000 IGCs, farm stores and pet specialty stores throughout the Midwest. As part of the coalition, the company intends to help retailers reach a younger, more technologically savvy audience for profitable growth.
- Ken Klopp, CEO, The Perfect Plant: The in-store digital engagement of The Perfect Plant’s information centers gives retailers a tool to train employees, engage customers, and enhance consumer plant knowledge — all customized to the IGC.
- Jeff Dinslage, CEO/president, Home and Garden Fulfillment, Inc.: With a network of 20 plant and hard good fulfillment locations, Home and Garden Fulfillment helps retailers reach new markets by enabling them to expand their product line and tap the e-commerce sales channel. Its e-commerce model supports a revenue share component that incentivizes all parties to ship healthy plants safely and in accordance with all state and federal regulations.
Connecting to younger customers and increasing foot traffic at retail serves as an overriding goal of the coalition. Using the Smart Plant Home app, customers create a digital garden of their plants, giving retailers a footprint of all the plants the users own. Based on the app’s information, retailers can understand their customers’ buying preferences, allowing the retailer to send customized notifications that encourage like-plant purchases at the IGC, in-store promotions, or announcements of special events based on the customer’s zip code.
The app intends to create loyalty and engagement with customers by providing professional advice. Users receive a custom care calendar, reminding them of when and how to tend their plants. Customers can upload a plant photo for identification, take a photo of a problem plant for diagnosis or search for plants that work well in specific situations, like on a balcony. Smart Plant Home goal is to also build community: with more than 81,000 Instagram followers and the 40,000 posts with its #peoplewithplants hashtag, millennials spread plant love on social media. (Smart Plant Home even offers a plant-driven book club to bring green lovers together.)
“Technology can create two different realities: one that separates us, and one that brings us together,” says Bert Wahlen, CEO of Smart Plant Home. “We use technology to connect us back to the earth and back to our roots, while fostering a community of people with plants. We turn a store into an interactive retail experience, so customers want to come in, scan the plants, and explore the shop. We promote the IGC’s products and locations to keep the customers coming back.”
For more information, visit the Smart Plant Home’s website here.