Offering landscape design services adds value to independent garden centers, but not every retailer is able to make the investment needed for their own landscaping department.
Web-based opportunities in retail are constantly expanding as more companies focus on connecting with consumers digitally, and landscape design services are no exception.
We talked to three online services and apps for insights into their services and what potential opportunities they can offer to brick-and-mortar garden retailers.
Yardzen creates partnership opportunities for garden centers
Founded in March of this year by Adam Messner and Allison Rhodes Messner, Yardzen is one of the newer digital landscape design service options on the market for consumers and garden centers, and they’re launching a program to partner with garden centers. The service is completely online and assigns a concierge and a designer to work closely with clients to create a “just-for-you design.”
“The way it works is a property owner decides that they want a cohesive landscape design for their outdoor spaces, and they come to Yardzen, and they give us just their address, and we ask [them] to walk around their property and take a video,” Rhodes Messner says. “Then, using a combination of satellite imagery and the user-contributed photo or videos, we create a surprisingly accurate 3-D replica of the building and the space around it.”
Yardzen asks clients to fill out a design profile so they can get a sense for their personal taste and sense of style to help create the designs for them.
“What we’re trying to do is just get a sense for who the person is,” Messner says. “And then, we create a design that includes everything from plants and plantings, to lifestyle elements, like play structures for kids or an outdoor kitchen.”
Once clients get their design, they are also given a planting plan that includes a list of plants needed for the landscape design. Clients can either forward the list to their landscaper, or they can go to their local garden center themselves.
“Prior to this new garden center partnership … we were not actually referring anybody to a garden center,” Messner says. “We [were] just telling them what they need to buy, and then it’s up to the landscape contractor they choose with them personally to figure out where to buy it.”
Messner says Yardzen is partnering with garden centers due to clients’ comments that they wished the service would take them through the final step of buying the plants and finding the right retailer.
Garden centers that partner with Yardzen will get their own custom URL hosted on Yardzen’s domain, Messner says.
“If somebody comes to [a garden center] to buy plants, the [garden center] can refer them to Yardzen and the consumer would then fill out the design profile, get their design, and in the end get a materials list from [that retailer]. We think that Yardzen offers this really interesting value-add for garden centers if they’re not currently doing design,” she says.
The partnership comes at no cost to garden centers. For consumers, designs range between $250 for botanical makeovers and $1000–$1500 for partial and full yard designs.
iScape helps clients visualize landscapes
Originally founded in 2010 by landscape professional Patrick Pozzuto, iScape is a landscape design app for consumers and industry professionals.
Pozzuto initially had the idea for iScape when he was working with a client who had trouble visualizing what she wanted for her property. This led to constant re-planning, and Pozzuto was determined to make the design process easier.
“With the iPhone [touch screens] being available, I was like, ‘There’s got to be a better solution,’” Pozzuto says. “I developed iScape, released it and came to find out even professionals loved the ease of use and ability to do a quick landscape design right there with the client.”
The iScape app acts as a tool, either for professionals to help consumers visualize their designs, or for DIY consumers who want to plan their garden without a professional design.
Pozzuto says the app also has a team working on a partnership method for retailers and manufacturers.
Every product depicted in iScape is available somewhere on the market for purchase, but app users were asking Pozzuto to help with finding the products they would use in their designs, and he believes this partnership will make finding those products easier for consumers and professionals alike.
“It will be a database, but [retailers] will have a category,” he says. Each retailers’ category will take users to a page specifically tailored to them to find products.
“This will also apply to landscape professionals,” he says. “When a homeowner goes to do a landscape design, they’ll be able to see contractors in their area and retailers that are set in their area and be able to reach out directly to them.”
iScape is formatted as two apps; one each for consumers and professionals.
“We currently have a consumer subscription, which is $4.99 a month, and then we have a professional subscription, which is $19.99 a month,” Pozzuto says. “Professionals have unlimited cloud storage to save designs, they have a proposal feature, [and] there are some additional photo editing tools. For the consumer base subscription, you get up to 150 images and the ability to save two designs to the cloud.”
Pozzuto says this app can benefit garden centers by adding a possible design tool to those that have landscape designers, and it could bring in more customers to retailers, whether they have a designer or not, by having their products in the iScape database.
Home Outside works to benefit all parties involved in a project
Starting as a book in 2009 by Julia Moir Messervy, Home Outside was released in June 2012 as a landscape design app as well as an online service that connects people to landscape designers in their area.
“They can pick the right service, purchase it online and then get matched up with a designer who knows their area,” says Jennifer Silver, communications manager for Home Outside. “They fill out [a] workbook and send us their photos, then they have a phone call with the designer so we can ask more questions and really get to know their project and goals.”
Silver says the mobile app is free for clients who want to make their own designs.
“If they want more features or they want to create larger designs on a desktop computer, they can purchase our desktop app,” she says.
Services include creating full or partial property plans and Ask an Expert, through which clients can have a 30-minute phone consultation with one of Home Outside’s designers.
Silver says Home Outside gives garden centers access to landscape design services that they can then share with consumers.
“We can work with whatever it is that [garden centers] need. One thing that’s really nice about working with a garden center is that planting design is not part of our property plan service,” Silver says. “We give [clients] conceptual designs and it has general planting suggestions, but we don’t tell them, ‘Use this variety and buy this number of them,’ et cetera.”
Garden centers can help Home Outside with deeper specifications on what plants to use where, Silver says, and Home Outside can help garden centers that may not offer landscape design services.
“Not only does a partnership help the nursery sell more plants, but it also leads to a more successful garden and landscape. The customer is happy, and they’re going to keep coming back to that garden center.”