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RESEARCH by the Office for National Statistics (2018) found 78% of adults use smartphones but according to one hi-tech horticultural company most garden centres are failing to engage with their tech-savvy customers.
The study found mobiles were the most popular devices across most age groups, apart from those aged 65 years plus, who preferred a tablet for internet shopping, entertainment and research purposes.
Terri Jones, Managing Director at Berkshire-based plant information company Joy of Plants, which provides Plant Finder Touchscreen Kiosks for garden centre’s plant areas, said: “A high percentage of adults from Millennials to tech savvy Generation X and baby boomers are using touchscreens on a regular basis whether it be on their smartphones or tablets.
“They will be using them in a number of ways from shopping, socialising or research. These devices are part of their everyday lives so why not incorporate them into a retail environment? Creating a modern plant area to appeal to these tech savvy gardeners is key if garden centres want to develop and grow new markets.
“We’re the only provider of materials like this catering for millennials and those of all ages who prefer to have their information in an environmentally paper-free format at the tips of their fingers.”
To add to this, research conducted recently (January 2019) by Common Sense Gardening shows that 84% of Millennials would not garden unless it was simple to do so.
The generation, now in their twenties and thirties, said they would garden if they had easy to maintain outdoor spaces and that the activity was made much easier for them.
Terri added: “Younger people haven’t been brought up with the same cultural points of reference as their parents and grandparents were, so they need extra guidance and assistance to help them understand where to start with plants.
“It’s important to reach them in a way they are comfortable with. Millennials are tech obsessed and they research things online. They are used to touchscreen technology and they are highly driven by visual content.
“Our Plant Finder Touchscreen Kiosks are proving a hit in garden centres’ plant areas as touchscreens are not only for Millennials but can also be used by everyone, even the over-50s understand the technology as it is so easy to use.
“By creating a modern plant area, garden centres are providing a pull for Millennials, which the gardening sector is working hard to encourage, without alienating the 50 plus generation either as they are embracing smart technology.”
The Plant Finder Touchscreen Kiosk guides customers to the plants a garden centre sells – it’s like having a new team assistant in the plant area, ready to help answer plant-related questions.
Terri continued: “The home screen can be personalised by the garden centre to chosen plant groups, such as easy-care plants, houseplants, or trees for small gardens and there are buttons to quickly find plants by name, or by criteria to meet a customer’s precise needs.
“It’s not just a bonus for Millennials, who are familiar with using touchscreens on their smartphones, but it is also beneficial to the older generation who are used to using technology on iPads to keep in touch with families and friends. People who are time poor can also use the kiosk, as it will save them trying to find a member of staff to help provide plant information.
“As well as customers using the kiosk, staff members can also use it to help find answers to plant questions quickly and efficiently.”
Garden centres can also use the Touchscreen Kiosk as a digital advertising tool while the Plant Finder is not in use. Customers can be made aware of seasonal offers, promotions and daily specials. Content can be scheduled any time of the day and kiosks can run targeted campaigns to a single screen or to a network of units across multiple sites.
Joy of Plants has already installed Plant Finder Touchscreen Kiosks for Blue Diamond, Haskins Roundstone Garden Centre in West Sussex, Everton Nurseries in Hampshire, Fakenham Garden Centre in Norfolk, Ferndale Garden Centre in Derbyshire and Busy Bees Garden Centre on the Isle of Wight.
Maria Currie, Director at Everton Nurseries, explained: “The interactive Plant Finder Kiosk is a hit with our customers, allowing them to access all sorts of plant information at the touch of a button. Thanks to the breakfast offer being promoted on the kiosk, footfall in our restaurant has also increased. Digital marketing is the way to go.”
For people who would like to see the Joy of Plants’ Plant Finder Touchscreen Kiosk in action the company is on stand 96 at the HTA National Plant Show at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire on June 18 and 19. Terri will also be on hand to answer any questions people may have about the kiosk.
Joy of Plants has been working with Review Systems Digital Signage Ltd in Preston on the hardware for its Plant Finder Touchscreen Kiosks. The company offers bespoke and off the shelf digital signage solutions to the horticulture industry.
Joy of Plants is passionate about plants and design, and its mission is to make plant information easy and accessible to all. It has created a library of more than 14,300 UK garden plants and trees and offers a platform of tools to help garden centres, retailers and growers maximise their plant sales.
The company was born from a 25-year project to photograph and document the UK’s plants, and provides information in many forms including Bed Cards, Apps, Plant Finder for websites and Touchscreen Kiosks.
Joy of Plants is constantly developing as the thirst for information grows from gardeners, as new plants are added and new technologies evolve.
For further details about Joy of Plants, which is based in Twyford, Berkshire, please call 07717 532 323, visit www.joyofplants.com, follow the company on Twitter at @JoyofPlants or on LinkedIn via www.linkedin.com/company/joy-of-plants.