2: How to renew your assortment customer-oriented?

by   Jeroen Pertijs___


Renewing your assortment isn’t your goal, it’s part of the strategy to reach your goal: “Growing your business.” By improving your assortment regularly, you’ll keep the attention of your customers and attract the attention of future customers.


Your customers’ customers’ needs…

That’s your starting point when you’re searching for new varieties and new product ideas. You need to know where they live to determine their hardiness zones, the most desired sizes and the actual regional trends regarding to plants and trees.

Your customers (garden centres, export traders, etcetera) are looking for innovations too, so ask them about their opinions regarding to the latest trends in gardening and new varieties. Showing this interest also ensures a better relationship between you and your customer.


Your possibilities

Besides your customers’ desires, you have to keep in mind what your expertise is and what your physical limits are. In other words ‘where and how your tree nursery is set up’. You’re bound to a particular hardiness zone and even when you possess a greenhouse, nature could still limit your abilities on other terms like day length, overall humidity and sun intensity.

The following maps shows Northern Europe divided in Hardiness Zones. Note – the zones are based on ‘average annual minimum temperatures’. With the current climate change and the occurring extreme weather conditions we should keep in mind that it’s possible that lower temperatures occur.

Find out in which zone you’re located and ask your plant supplier for information about the hardiness of the particular varieties.

For example, at Pertop Plants we are located in Hardiness Zone 8. That means that our average annual minimum temperature should be in between minus 12,2˚C and minus 6,7˚C. As I know from my own experience, it could be minus 15˚C occasionally. Because of that we try to serve our Dutch, Belgian and French customers with plants that have a Zone 7 label or lower.
For our own varieties we made up a list with the corresponding Hardiness Zone Labels, see the following Document

From most of the plants there’s information available on the internet, and if not, ask your plant supplier. He/She should know this about the particular varieties they are working with and it’s their duty to provide you with this important information.


The current trends

Try to catch up with the current trends about gardening and popular trees. To figure out what these trends might be, contact your customers. Besides this, figure out what the popular hashtags are on twitter and Instagram and what’s pinned a lot on pinterest. How you can filter out trends on these social platforms, see the previous post 1:    Which varieties of my current assortment should I continue with?” and head for the Bonus Material.


What new varieties are available for my customers?

One of my personal hobbies is to search on the internet for new varieties that suit my cultivation area: half-standard trees and shrub-standards. What I love most is to grow particular varieties on standard with which I can positively surprise my (potential) customers.

Anyway, mostly I use the websites of Plant Breeding Royalty Managers as a good resource for my search. If you typ in ‘new plants’ or ‘new trees’ or ‘new shrubs’ in Google, the websites of the leading breeding companies show up immediately. Most of these companies provide excellent information about their new varieties. Use the Hardiness Zone label as main requirement for your ‘new assortment list’ and look on the social platforms whether they’re popular or not in your sales areas.
Besides that, just enjoy visiting those websites and get inspired! And please let me know which plant breeding companies inspired you most, by leaving a message under this post. I’ll appreciate that!

Hopefully you use the tips above when you’re looking for additional varieties to your product range. You completed the second stage of the buying cycle, if you can answer the following questions properly:
- “What do my customers’ customers need, love and prefer”
- “What’s the Hardiness Zone at my customers’ location and what is mine?”
- “What are the actual leading trends, regarding to gardening, trees and shrubs?”
- “What new varieties entered the market recently and what could be interesting for my customers?”

Next time, we’ll discuss what stem-sizes you should grow to serve your customers’ needs. If you don’t want to miss out the next chapter, please subscribe to this blog!