The gardening boom hasn’t just been great for the independent retailers; greenhouse and nursery growers are also reporting great sales numbers in 2021. But while the green industry is sharing success, it’s also sharing hardships like rising input costs, supply chain issues and a lack of qualified job candidates. Read on to see how the nursery and greenhouse markets are faring and what they’re planning for next year.Editor’s note: Nursery and greenhouse market numbers are courtesy of Nursery Management and Greenhouse Management magazines. Responses were collected via online surveys in August and September. The nursery grower sample size is nearly 200. The greenhouse grower sample size is approximately 100.
The Flowerpot StandIron Garden Products
Beautify and accent your customers’ lawn, garden and patio areas with The Flowerpot Stand. Personalized interchangeable silhouettes can be changed out from season to season. Features outdoor wildlife, domestic pets, religion, holiday, sports and farm living theme collections. Inventory available now. range.me/Uvr7gnd1qRVn3IDfuTtwHg
Hexagon PlantersO Yeah! Gifts
Happy little pots are perfect for your hive. Honeycomb shaped hexagon planters are handmade in the USA from eco-friendly, sustainable stone. Soft, fresh colors brighten up any space. Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use as unglazed cement naturally draws out excess moisture from potted plants. Lighten up, pop some candles in your pots to create a graceful glow, or let the artist inside you shine, all pots can be personalized with a little paint. oyeahgifts.com/wholesale
Porch Boards™Pleasant Street Designs
Porch Boards™ from My Word!® are 100% waterproof! They’re the hot home accessory consumers want! My Word!® offers 250+ Porch Board™ designs in seasonal and everyday styles! Best of all, they are made in the USA! mywordsigns.com
Round PotteryO Yeah! Gifts
We are little plant pots, short and stout! Sweet, simple, handmade cement planters are made in the USA from eco-friendly sustainable sources. The stone pottery naturally wicks away excess moisture creating a breathable environment for plants to thrive. Functional minimalist style accents any decor and comes in a variety of warm and cool colors. Feeling extra artsy? Dial up the fun by adding a personal touch; all pots are paintable. oyeahgifts.com/wholesale
Stand-Out Signs™Pleasant Street Designs
Stand-Out Signs™ from My Word!® are weatherproof outdoor décor! Carded for hanging, these fun and attractive signs are a great way to decorate a planting bed, walkway, planter box or anywhere the zinc plated stakes can be staked into the ground! Made in the USA and shipping fast, they offer FREE FREIGHT for all products in 2021! mywordsigns.com
Urban Raised BedSmart Pots
Easy upsell with the new Smart Pot Urban Raised Bed Garden. This raised bed comes PVC ready and supports 1-inch PVC piping and fitting (PVC not included). The Urban Raised Bed is rigid and designed to grow more abundant vegetables, flowers, plants and herbs in any garden area. Available in two sizes: 2 feet by 4 feet and 4 feet by 4 feet, the Urban Raised Bed is easy to assemble and is durable so it can be used year after year. smartpots.com
All-America Selections’ 2021 Landscape Design Challenge inspired new and unique ways to plant with the theme ‘Diversity in the Garden.’ AAS Display Garden participants were encouraged to create their own diverse gardens using the resources they choose to represent the theme. Gardens were divided into three categories based on the number of visitors per year: Category I: Fewer than 10,000 visitors per year; Category II: 10,001 to 100,000 visitors per year; and Category III: More than 100,000 visitors per year. Take a look at some of the winning entries and visit bit.ly/AASLandscapeWinners to learn more about the winners and see the list of honorable mentions.
1: First place, Category III: Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point, Lehi, Utah
Ashton Gardens highlighted the people in their community who had experiences with cultures and plants outside of Utah.
2: Second place, Category III: Montreal Botanical Garden, Montreal, Quebec
This Canadian garden was designed using each color in the chromatic circle.
3: Third place, Category III: State Botanical Garden, Athens, Georgia
Using a diverse group of college student interns, this Georgia garden focused on human diversity with a goal of inviting visitors to the AAS planting bed to explore plants up close.
4: First place, Category II: Purdue Extension-Marion County Demonstration Garden, Indianapolis, Indiana
Extension Master Gardener volunteers worked with the Purdue Extension to focus on a variety of plants and cultivars, and incorporate an array of colors.
5: Second place, Category II: Powell Gardens, Kingsville, Missouri
With raised beds and a range of gardening techniques, Powell Gardens used colors, shapes, sizes and different types of plants to show diversity.
6: Third place, Category II: Domaine Joly-De Lotbinière, Sainte-Croix, Quebec
Plants are used to symbolize recent human rights movements such as Black Lives Matter, Native Lives Matter and All Lives Matter in this Quebecois garden.
7: First place, Category I: Lee College Horticulture Program, Huntsville, Texas
Horticulturalists looked to different structures, textures and colors to represent diversity at the Lee College Horticulture Program garden.
8: Second place, Category I (tie): Mississippi State University, Poplarville, Mississippi
A total of 17 varieties of ornamentals and 16 edibles were included in this garden. A diverse number of planting methods were incorporated which included in-ground, traditional containers, whiskey half-barrels, rail planters, hanging bag planters and elevated tables.
9: Second place, Category I (tie): Pima County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden, Tucson, Arizona
This 700-square-foot raised garden sparked a larger conversation among planners regarding diversity in the local community and American society.
10: Third place, Category I: Knitting Mill Creek Community Garden, Norfolk, Virginia
This Virginia garden brought together edibles, ornamentals and native pollinator plants to show passersby what they can plant in their own gardens.
Whether you’re delivering products to your customers or relying on deliveries and inventories of those goods, supply chain disruptions and skyrocketing costs are impacting every garden center business. Regardless of where they lay in the supply chain, disruptions are taking a heavy toll on independent retailers, many of which have few resources to absorb or push back on price increases, and even less leverage to pass those higher costs to customers.
A whopping 44% of small businesses recently reported temporary shortages or other supply chain problems, according to a survey of approximately 800 companies by Vistage Worldwide Inc., a coaching and advisory organization for small businesses. Fortunately, even this far into the disruptions, planning, increased supply chain management, adding potential suppliers and increased technology can help every independent garden center retailer cope with, or even profit from, rising prices and the supply chain disarray.
Coping with a volatile supply chain
Garden centers develop supply chains so they can reduce their costs and remain competitive. An efficient, optimized supply chain is extremely important in the fulfillment of customer orders. However, it can also result in lower costs and a more efficient production or sales cycle when managed correctly.
Supply chain management, or SCM, is the umbrella term that covers product development, sourcing, production, procurement, logistics and more. Without SCM, an independent garden center runs the risk of losing customers and its competitive edge.
SCM isn’t just about creating an efficient process; it’s also crucial to mitigating risk and ensuring everything runs smoothly. After all, many elements make up the supply chain from manufacturing sites to warehouses to transportation, inventory management and order fulfillment. So it should come as no surprise that managing the supply chain, along with agile and efficient adoption of technologies, is creating a new way of operating.
Without an optimized SCM process in place, the chain can fall apart from the very beginning. A dynamic approach to managing supply chains exists and provides everything a garden center needs to create a more robust supply chain. Apply agile strategies toward real-time disruptions, use powerful analytics that address and resolve root causes, and find management practices that pave the way for long-term growth.
Flexibility vs. resilience
When it comes to coping with disruptions and changes, flexibility and resilience are critical traits for success with a volatile supply chain. A resilient supply chain can weather the storm if one of its suppliers has to shut down production. And a flexible supply chain can adapt to market trends and conditions in the blink of an eye.
With the rate of disruptions continuing and, in many cases, increasing, change management is required. It is important to focus specifically on dealing with disruptions and, if at all possible, avoiding them (via flexibility). This will be a largely operational hurdle involving establishing strategies for particular events or changes — often with the help of digital technology.
Just in time
While there is no single best way to create a winning supply chain strategy, a popular option among those with inventories is so-called “just-in-time” management for inventories of raw materials, supplies, goods and products. Just-in-time management cuts final producers’ costs while redistributing some of those costs to intermediate producers, who wind up either holding extra stock or finding other ways to cope with demand-side fluctuations.
Unfortunately, the major problem of relying too heavily on just-in-time is glaringly evident in the industry credited with inventing it. Automakers have been crippled by a shortage of computer chips — vital car components produced mostly in Asia. Without enough chips on hand, automobile plants around the world have been forced to halt assembly lines.
Still, today’s shortages raise the question of whether some garden center retailers have been too aggressively reaping savings by slashing inventory. Despite their role in the supply chain however, many key players say they don’t want to replace just-in-time entirely because the savings are too great.
Many businesses have been using alternate suppliers to combat rising inflation, supply chain disruptions and labor shortages. Relying on backup suppliers to battle shortages or shipping delays is rapidly becoming the “new norm” for many garden centers.
Shifting suppliers allows a business to “optimize costs.” An alternate supplier allows an IGC to quickly respond to supply chain disruptions, minimizing the impact on their bottom lines. Unfortunately, few are completely immune to supply chain disruption and are forced to hike prices if only to keep ahead of rising inflation.
What’s more, maintaining multiple potential suppliers, however, requires planning — and a great amount of work. Of course, every business relying on numerous suppliers has a certain amount of flexibility when supply chain breakdowns occur. That has allowed them to better shield themselves from the impacts of COVID-19 outbreaks, extreme weather events and other supply chain disruptions.
It’s no secret that supply shortages and disruptions have led to a record number of canceled contracts and the rise of “spot bidding.” When supply and capacity are strained, previously negotiated contracts and agreements are all-too-frequently thrown out the window, leaving little alternative to the incredibly inefficient spot bidding.
Spot bidding requires many of the same, time-consuming, repetitive steps as the original process to reach out to potential carriers or suppliers, collect data and make new award declarations.
Far too many within the industry failed to anticipate the sheer volume of canceled contracts or the rise of spot bidding, among other economic challenges. Complicating matters today, when an outsourcing need arises, many are turning to what is familiar and ignoring the impact of new problems with old, outdated processes and technology.
Since it is often conducted outside of a formal sourcing process, spot bidding often introduces bias, where the business favors certain suppliers in the interest of speed, reducing the competitive tension that might have resulted in better offers.
Understanding that in order to remain competitive and guard against disruptions, integrating new suppliers — and identifying which supply lines no longer hold value — is imperative. A garden center that overlooks emerging suppliers to preserve incumbent relationships does so at the expense of innovation and resiliency.
According to many experts, a lack of a cohesive strategy and technology are the biggest hurdles to building future-ready supply chains. Fortunately, in an effort to upgrade these methods, many businesses are overhauling their old systems and attempting to streamline processes using optimization and automation technology for a more modernized supply chain.
A fundamental way of achieving preparedness is to optimize processes wherever possible — especially in the procurement function. Optimization makes it possible to balance cost and speed objectives, give suppliers flexible bidding options and eliminate “lowest price wins” awards.
With the right solution, the IGC retailer has the capability to handle everything from spot bids to large-scale RFPs, with a supplier-friendly interface that improves the operation’s direct materials, supplies or service award decisions. One such solution involves automation.
A computerized sourcing process can establish spot bidding and mini-tender events within minutes, managing and automating everything from inviting carriers and collecting bid data to generating award recommendations based on a set of criteria. A computerized system goes beyond cost savings by creating more efficiency.
By reducing time-consuming, monotonous tasks, optimization and automation technology allows the garden center’s key personnel to do what they do best — focus on supplier relationships, accomplish broader goals for the operation and drive innovation.
A problem without an answer
With price hikes already common, inflation expectations are posing potential problems for some retailers. Pandemic buying and supply shortages exposed flaws in many supply chains that will continue to be exploited in the months ahead.
Although many retailers learned how to cope with on-the-fly solutions (duct tape and chewing gum?), most postponed long-term investments while grappling with more immediate issues.
Today, IGCs can utilize past lessons and move forward. For some, that will mean stockpiling more inventory and forging relationships with additional suppliers. Unfortunately, for far too many garden center owners and managers, the pursuit of cost savings will once again trump other considerations.
Disruptions in the supply chain aren’t going away any time soon. The bottom line is that there is no single best way to create a winning supply chain strategy. However, by leveraging optimization and automation to create a future-ready supply chain, retailers can leave antiquated approaches behind and progress to modernity. The operation’s future may depend on it.
The author is a business writer based in Pennsylvania. His tax and financial features have appeared in business magazines and trade journals for more than 25 years. Reach him at MEBatt12@Earthlink.net