As pond season begins, consider ways to re-create your water gardening and pond department that not only display products, but also inspire your customers. A number of factors are contributing to consumers spending more time at home, so they’ll be looking for ways to improve their home and garden environment, and water gardens do just that. Additionally, there are many advantages to owning a water garden including stress reduction and environmental benefits, not to mention it’s a project that can involve the entire family.
Consider this information before you begin creating a display to inspire:
• According to a market research study conducted by TetraPond, about half of all pond owners wish they had made their pond anywhere from 25% larger to double its current size.
• About one in four said they wish they had planned the project better; what to do, how to do it, what would work best.
• Many commented that had they known how enjoyable a pond would be, they would have built it sooner.
• Most respondents in this study (40%) stated that they became interested in pondkeeping through purposeful promotions such as retailers’ displays.
The Benefits of Water Gardening
Unlike other landscaping projects, pondkeeping reaches beyond the products on the shelf – it’s really a lifestyle. Pond owners take great pride in their ponds, but they also take refuge there too. The pond becomes an outdoor living space both for dining and recreation. With the right lighting and music, it is the perfect setting for an evening at home with family or friends. Additionally, consumers are finding that by investing in their home, they are providing an ‘escape’ without having to travel a mile. By understanding these benefits, you can guide your potential pondkeepers into lifelong customers!
Create an Inspirational Display
As mentioned above, many pond owners become interested in building a pond because of an in-store display, such as a live water garden. Even if it is in a container, the sights and sounds of moving water help the customer visualize and plan features for his or her own home.
Here are some ways you can dress up your pond/water gardening department and enhance the shopping experience for your patrons.
• Crafting a pond department requires a little imagination and a lot of professional help! If you are new to pondkeeping, it is a good idea to lean on your supplier’s shoulders. Ask your manufacturer to help you develop your pond department. Visually build your pond/water gardening department with existing, well-branded point of purchase materials and product packaging for an impressive, cohesive look.
• Most manufacturers offer displays, complete with well-merchandised, portable shelving stocked with an assortment of pre-packed products, to keep your department looking sharp. And remember to not overlook the power of informative packaging, which can also make a dramatic aisle or end-cap presence.
• It is also important to create a visual experience in your store for your pondkeeper customers. Use large, colorful posters and signage that capture the beauty and enjoyment of a pond.
• Consider where you place products. Keep consumables, such as fish food and water treatments, at eye level.
• Use how-to guides to show how easy it is to build a pond. Merchandise the department with attractive, instructional point-of-purchase materials that eliminate confusion on buying the “right” product.
Consider your Customers
Once you’ve inspired potential pondkeepers, they’ll become customers. As a supplier of pond products and consumables, you know that there is great deal of competition vying for their business. What sets you apart from them?
Start with understanding and educating yourself and your staff on pond products and how they work together. Ask your manufacturer to guide you in this process. Develop a keen understanding on foods- what and when to feed your pond fish. As the expert, your customers will keep coming back to you for advice.
Here are some additional tips to help you get to know your customers:
• Ask your customers to fill out a short informational card before they leave your store that you can keep on file. This can be as simple as a 3 x 5 card that asks for their address, email and phone number. On the back of the card you can document their purchase so you will be able to refer to it when they come back in to your store.
• Consider offering a monthly or quarterly email or printed one-page newsletter that gives tips on anything from maintaining healthy, happy fish to choosing the right plants for a balanced ecosystem. TetraPond offers a monthly email newsletter that you, as a retailer, can send to your customers directly from your email address, thus positioning yourself as a destination for water gardening supplies and advice.
For more information about the newsletter please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Encourage customers to take snapshots of their ponds and water gardening creations and post the photos on an in-store bulletin board or feature them in your newsletters.
• Get to know your customers by talking with them. Ask them questions that are open ended and require more than a yes or no response such as: How much time do you want to spend building your pond? How big will it be? Do you envision fish in your pond? Why did you decide to build a pond? How do you want to landscape around your pond?
• Another way to add value to your customers’ experience is through a customer retention program. This type of program can include discounts, coupons, special product announcements and freebies.
• Offer to test customers’ pond water as a free service. It’s a beneficial value – added service that helps build a relationship with the customer while creating a sense of expertise for you. Plus it provides retailers with the opportunity to provide a solution if the water needs a remedy.
Education = Loyalty
As the expert to your customers, providing educational tools will greatly enhance customer loyalty. Newsletters, take-away’s, brochures, books and magazines are all very important when building your pond department.
But don’t forget the obvious: product knowledge. If you and your staff don’t know how a filter works or how to choose the right pump for various sized ponds, your customers may find a retailer who can answer these questions- quickly and understandably.
Ask your manufacturer partner to provide you with education and information on how their products work. If you are new to pondkeeping, you may not know all of the different food options available for your customers to purchase. Or, more importantly, the importance of not feeding pond fish when the temperature falls below 39°F, as it is very harmful and sometime fatal for fish.
Pondkeeping can be a profit center for your business and a means to gain loyal customers who’ll visit regularly for pond food, plants, water treatments, disease remedies and cures, and accessories – a steady stream of revenue. But don’t forget that getting to know your customers will better prepare you for making knowledgeable and proactive recommendations. And over time, they’ll build trust and credibility for your brand. Remember – inspire your customers as often as possible by re-creating your display and store layout, giving them a reason to come back often.
About the Author
Curt Nuenighoff, TetraPond, serves as the pond products manager and is responsible for product development, business strategy, merchandising and marketing in North America. Nuenighoff earned an MBA from the University of New Haven and a BS from the University of Connecticut in Marketing.
TetraPond is an international leader in water gardening products, with its US headquarters in Blacksburg, VA. TetraPond offers a complete line of products for pond enthusiast, including pumps, liners, filters, UV clarifiers, water treatments, books and fish food.
For more information call: 1-800-526-0650, or visit: www.tetrapond.com