At Sunrise Marketing our new mobile app for garden centers was the big hit at the 1012 Winter trade show season. It’s funny because the interest level seemed to be either “We have been looking to have an app developed…” or “Why should I bother.” So what does one group know that the other one doesn’t? Well, often times we are only aware of what we are aware of (or completely in the dark about). In the case of the doubters, the argument goes something like this -”… I don’t even have a smart phone, so why should I worry about it now?”
The answer is simple. A recent CNN.com post goes like this: “A year and a half ago, mobile users tended to spend considerably more time — an average of 64 minutes per day — using the Web browser on their phone or tablet. By comparison, they spent only 43 minutes per day in apps. Now mobile users now spend an average of 94 minutes per day using apps, but just 72 minutes browsing the mobile Web, according to Flurry’s report, which was released earlier this month on the company’s blog.”
Let’s face it, people always have their phones with them. They have become an integral part of their daily lives; For good reason. A good collection of apps can get you out of just about any bind you might find yourself in, solve about any type of arguments and help you find just about anything you are looking for. Low on gas? Check out gasbuddy.com. Need to find out who directed Toy Story 3? IMDB. When you add on Yelp, Foursquare, Urban Spoon and Open Table you can find a restaurant just about anywhere, and more importantly make a reservation, or order out.
You need to think of a mobile app as your extended website. Our mobile app for garden centers features one-touch calling, Google directions, news feed for publishing your blog posts, deals, loyalty club, surveys and even gardening trivia. There is also an ‘Ask Us’ feature that positions your business as the gardening authority. We want your customers to have one place to go when they think of anything garden related. This is more than just your ‘Angry Birds’ phenomenon, it is a movement to keep your business front and center of your best customers, and through the Facebook integration, their friends and family.
“It is such an opportunity for garden centers to make that connection,” says Today’s Garden Center Editor Richard Jones, “If you can get the customer to use an app, for instance, you’re essentially getting them to say, ‘this is my garden center. I’m not going to have an app for 50 different garden centers’, even if they go to 50 different garden centers”
The mobile app can become a portal to a more personalized connection with your customers. Hall’s Garden Center in Berkeley Heights, NJ plans on publishing many of their videos on the garden center’s mobile app. Owner Robert LaHoff regularly uses Sunrise Marketing to produce short, informative videos that bring his customers to places they might never see – such as a personal tour of Iseli Nursery. An example is the video posted on the ‘Steal this Idea’ section of the todaysgardencenter.com website. This type of content is really exciting for customers. This is great content. The neat thing about a blogging feed is you can publish everything from videos to featured plants; upcoming events to gardening tips, and so much more.
Websites will be marginalized. Richard Jones concludes that “websites are going to be a thing of the past, essentially just like a phone book.” At the end of the day mobile apps represent an evolution of the web experience. It creates an opportunity for retailers to develop a deeper connection with their customer’s passion for gardening. When should you do it? Now. Just like anything else in a seasonal business like garden centers, if you don’t launch it in time for Spring, you are essentially losing the year. Change can be a challenge for some, an exciting new opportunity for others. What are your thoughts? I would love to get your feedback.