Bower & Branch is an e-commerce and business solution for Independent Garden Retailers. It will become the online—and in store—garden brand of choice for consumers.
Battle the boxes at their level, with a sophisticated e-commerce store and firm brick and mortar presence.
Reduce inventory burdens, capture new sales, increase pricing and create year-round cashflow.
GARDEN RETAILING IS CHANGING.
Big boxes have taken a shocking 80% (and growing) share of the garden retail market. Discounts dominate the industry and devalue plants. And consumers begin with online research and increasingly buy online.
BOWER & BRANCH IS YOUR PLAN TO TAKE BACK MARKET SHARE.
Bower & Branch’s vision is clear, but Don had to convince me I was up to the challenge and I could make this system work. No more by-the-seat-of-our-pants management style.Craig Calef
In 2014, there were 14.9 Million searches on Google related to ‘Trees for Sale’. In 2015, that increased to over 16 Million. That’s a 7.5% increase in search volume in 1 year. More than 1 Million MORE searches!
The Finest Garden Centers in the Country
Some of the finest Independent Garden Centers in the country have joined Bower & Branch, from Altum’s, Delhi and White Oak Gardens in the Midwest to Shady Brook Farms and Skillins Greenhouses in the East. Over 50 IGC’s have joined Bower & Branch, showing tremendous leadership and commitment to change. Let us help you decide if your garden center should be on the list.
The time to take action is now. The statistics below show how today’s shoppers are already influenced online.
Buying Decisions That Start Online
Shoppers Who Buy Online After Shopping In Store
Shoppers Who Buy In Store After Shopping Online
Bower & Branch has created a beautiful, sophisticated E-Commerce store at bowerandbranch.com. The obvious benefit to E-commerce is the customer growth aspect, but our members are also experiencing a host of other benefits.
Improve Inventory Turns
By using the online tree store to sell trees in your store, you can grow tree sales without more inventory. This leads to:
Enhanced Cash Flow
By reducing the amount of capital tied up in inventory, you’re free to grow sales while having that cash ready to take advantage of other opportunities.
Capture Lost Sales
It would be impossible to stock enough trees in enough variety to always say ‘yes’ to every customer request. Many garden centers experience 25% lost sales due to this Stock to Sale Ratio problem. With Bower & Branch you have over 350 kinds of trees available – so you capture these lost sales opportunities.
These changes will transform your Retail Tree Sales department and restore it to full profitability. You can expect to improve your Net Operating Margin from 41% to 59%.
By The Numbers
Independent Garden Centers who have joined Bower & Branch
'Trees For Sale' Searches on Google Last 12 Months
Shoppers at bowerandbranch.com so far in 2016
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to join Bower & Branch?
Next Enrollment Period begins July 1, 2017 Please click here to join our email list and receive the Garden Retailer Guide to receive more information.
Online tree sales? How does that work?
Customers buy trees online at bowerandbranch.com, paying with their credit card. Prior to checkout, the customer enters the zip code where the tree is to be delivered. Based on the zip code data, we display the Bower & Branch members in that area, and the customer chooses a store for delivery. The tree is then shipped from the licensed grower to the distributor. The distributor then makes sure that the tree gets to the right garden center. From the time the customer places the order to the time the tree is at the member garden center is typically 7 days or less.
How long does it take for the customer to get the tree?
Most trees will be at the garden center ready for pickup, home delivery, or planting within 7 days. In Region #2, the time frame is about 10 days currently.
Do people buy trees online?
Yes. There is almost nothing that you can’t buy online now, and consumers are driving the online shopping growth by voting with their wallets. There are millions of tree related searches online every year, many with a ‘high purchase intent’. Five years ago, we weren’t positive that customers would buy trees online, but we’ve answered that question with an unequivocal ‘YES’.
Will you really ship one tree?
Yes. We’re committed to fulfilling every order in the areas we serve. Our distribution network allows us to do this in a timely and efficient manner.
How do the logisitics work?
When a customer places an order online, we notify the grower, the distributor, and the garden center that an order has taken place. This kicks the system into motion – the grower harvests the tree, and ships it to the distributor, who then, in turn, ships it to the garden center. The customer is notified by email when the tree will be available for pick up in the garden center. If the customer has selected delivery and / or planting services, the garden center member is notified, so that they can schedule with the customer.
How do I make money?
When a customer buys a tree online, they use a credit card, and Bower & Branch is paid for the transaction. The garden center member, the grower, and Bower & Branch share this revenue. Each week, Bower & Branch pays the members for all the tree sales that happened the past 7 days. We use an Electronic Funds Transfer, or ETF to send the money. This means that in many cases, you will be paid your margins on a tree sale before the tree is even delivered to your store!
Why sell trees online in my store?
Trees are notoriously expensive to care for, and there is a large inventory risk associated with them. You should only inventory the amount of trees that you can sell in the first 60 days of the season, to maintain proper margins, and reduce cost of sale associated with trees. After the spring season, members rely heavily on bowerandbranch.com, selling trees online in the store, and getting full price, all season long. Our ‘cash first’ inventory model is revolutionary – you can grow sales without inventory risk, and be paid cash for online sales all year long.
But trees are only a small part of my business?
You may wonder – why all this fuss about trees? It’s only 5% of my business, after all. True – and here is why this is the correct market position to adopt. First, trees are a way to stake out a market position that differentiates you from the big box stores. Bower & Branch will eventually become your online e-commerce store selling many other things, but it’s important to establish the brand this way, and to differentiate ourselves from other competitors. Second, one of the big problems you face in marketing is knowing what to talk about. Trees give us something to talk about. They are fascinating, noble, and offer so many lifestyle benefits. People love trees, and it’s exciting to engage customers at this level. Third, trees are high margin items, (in both dollars and percent) and tree buyers buy other things, like fertilizer, water elements, and other plants. No one comes in to buy annuals and impulsively decides to buy a tree – but tree buyers very well may buy some color when they are in the store, and they’ll keep coming back to your store, again and again. Read more about why trees are the right market position.
When can I enroll in Bower & Branch?
Enrollment is open from June 1 through December 31 each year.
Your store can be more profitable on tree sales! In fact, if you are planning to be in the tree business, you must become more profitable on trees – the current model doesn’t work financially. Here’s why:
It costs between $.50 and $1.00 per day to inventory a tree, and keep it ready for sale. This is a Cost of Sale figure that adds up quickly, and reduces your effective margin on trees.
Cost of Sale
• Cost of capital tied up in tree inventory
• Cost of logistics of receiving and storing large spring order
• Costs associated with poor cash flow early in season
• Damage and loss to trees in inventory
• Cost of each square foot tied up in tree inventory
• Cost of watering and fertilizing trees
• Cost of the sale transaction
You do quite well on trees that you sell in the first 45 days of the season. After that however, your margin is reduced each day, as you pay staff to care for that tree. Bower & Branch members are able to reverse this alarming pattern, and increase margins.
Another way to think about this: If you sell approximately 200 trees annually, do you spend $10,000 to $15,000 in ‘Cost of Sale’? Most garden center owners admit that this is, unfortunately accurate.
You can see how this unseen Cost of Sale eats into your margins. When you combine this with late season discounting, effective margin on your tree program can be very very low.
Let’s say you buy a tree for $80, and retail it for $200. You’ll make $120, right? If you sell it in the first week, yes. But if you sell it in late June, your effective margin isn’t enough to buy yourself a decent lunch.
Here’s how to reduce this cost to less than $7,000:
Reduce your spring order, so that you only order in what you will sell in the peak season. If you become a Bower & Branch member, you’ll have an online tree store that is open 24/7 with more than 300 kinds of trees available.
This reduces your Cost of Sale, because you have fewer trees in inventory, for fewer days.
Never turn a customer away because you don’t have the right tree in stock – train your staff to use the online tree store, to make sure the customer gets what they need.
Increase Net Operating Margin on Trees From 41% to 59%
Reduce Cost of Sale
You may be selling trees for about the same price you were selling them 20 years ago. Do you realize how crazy that sounds? Did any of the costs associated with growing, distributing and planting trees stay flat? Of course not!
This can’t go on – there’s not enough margin for you or the grower. As an industry, we need to increase awareness of the value of trees. The Bower & Branch brand helps achieve that.
Price is the first indicator of value. The Bower & Branch brand supports higher price points in a number of ways.
Our brand speaks to the emotions behind the tree buying decision. The 3 Year Guarantee increases the value of our trees. Tree buying is not a price driven transaction. Our position reflects that.
Increasing prices helps deliver the margins you need to be profitable and grow your business.
Get to know the team
We’ve come together from a variety of backgrounds, with a singular passion. With over 100 years of business experience on our small team, we know what works, and we’re excited to help move our industry forward.
Don’s commitment to faith, family, and the independent green industry is uncommon. His heart still belongs to growing – even as he’s been a student of business for many years. Don’s 30 + years of studying retail tree sales and his passion for technology led him to create Bower & Branch.
Sid has been reinventing the way things “don’t get done” into “get it done” strategies that increase the overall performance of garden centers. He’s has 30 increasingly effective years dedicated to improving and reinventing the IGC industry. He’s constantly challenging “that’s how we do it”, “we tried that”, and more than seventeen other excuses. He knows how to get people to get things done by overcoming negative attitudes, fears and lacking resources. When you speak to Sid, prepare to think and implement changes that will take your business to new heights.
Contact Sid via email Sid@bowerandbranch.com
Director of Enrollment and Online Content
Joey is a jack of all trades. He manages all of Bower & Branch’s online content including photography and video. He is also the enrollment manager. He worked for two years on a tree nursery where he gained a solid foundation of plant knowledge. Joey is a baseball fanatic and a die hard Atlanta Braves fan.
Director of Member Engagement
Tom brings over 20 years of experience in the industry to Bower & Branch. He was the General Manager for most of his time at White Oak Gardens. He was the the GM when White Oak came on board Bower & Branch and has first hand experience coming on board the program which makes him a perfect fit for this role. Tom enjoys spending time with his wife and sons.
Director of Consumer Relations
Wendi’s consistent ability to absolutely delight customers come from a combination of persistent happy-go-lucky attitude and many years working in inside sales for an independent grower. She’s able to blend her broad plant knowledge and her prodigious work ethic to help customers make the right choice for their property, and customers can’t get enough of her. Wendi-Jo has a cat-dog – that is, a dog with distinct feline tendencies!
Director of Digital Marketing
Colby brings her creativity and upbeat attitude to the Bower & Branch team. She’s grown up around trees her whole life and continues to learn about the beauty that trees bring to our lives. Colby’s the one to talk to about social media and online engagement! Colby wishes she was at Disney World most of the time.
Heather has been involved in horticulture most of her life – following in her father’s footsteps. After getting a degree in Interior Plantscape & Floral Design, she spent years working in the green industry. Heather has worked for years with an independent grower, and spent several years working in an IGC as well. Her attention to detail make her a huge asset to the Bower & Branch team! Heather hates to cook, but loves to bake!
Grow Customer Count
How do you grow your customer count? You have to speak to potential customers – in their language, where they are. And where they are is online and on their smartphones.
8 out of 10 of all major purchases start with online research. If you aren’t online influencing those purchases, you won’t gain those customers. Customers expect to be able to research and buy nearly any product online.
That doesn’t mean they don’t want to come to your store! The future will have a blend of researching and buying happening both in store, and online. It’s becoming clear: Retailers need to be really good at E-Commerce, and E-Commerce needs to be really great at retail.
Customers still want to be able to have the great experience of coming to your store, but they won’t come if they don’t know about you, and if you’re not able to serve them online.
More than 40% of Bower & Branch tree sales happen when customers search Google and find us in the search results. These are new customers for our garden center members! What a great way to grow customer count!
There are more than 3,000 search queries that drive visitors to our website from Google search results, and we’re growing very quickly.
In 3 to 5 years, Bower & Branch will be the dominant online presence as it relates to buying trees. It takes a lot of hard work, money, and patience, and we’re excited about the challenge, as well as the great progress we’ve already made.
Email Marketing & Social Media
Our social media and email teams generate great content that we use to attract new customers. Our member stores also use this content as part of their digital marketing efforts. More than 10% of our sales are generated by email and social media.
This kind of digital marketing attracts and engages customers that may never have heard of you before.
Sophisticated Direct Mail Campaigns
Every week, we’re thrilled to fulfill many catalog requests. These catalogs no doubt become well worn and dog eared, as customers become inspired and motivated to shop for trees. When they do, they too become a new customer for our member stores.
Our marketing team develops beautiful direct mail campaigns in alignment with the Five Seasons of Tree Sales each year, which is a cost effective way to speak to your customers in the comfort of their own homes.
Changing the culture of your business is hard.
Getting started isn’t.
Here’s how it works:
Step 2: Evaluate
We’ll help you evaluate the program, to see if it’s a good fit for you. Using tools like Google Hangout, we can share our computer screens, and a video feed, to meet virtually, or if you’d prefer, we can arrange a site visit.
At this point, we go through the agreement, and answer any questions you might have, and field questions from your team, as well.
Step 3: Enroll
Once you’ve decided to join Bower & Branch, the actual Enrollment process is pretty straightforward. We’ll talk through the agreement in detail, and make sure everyone is on the same page. Usually, signing the agreement is done via ‘E-Signature’, which only takes a minute or two, and you are sent a signed copy of the agreement for your records. You’ll send a check to us for the enrollment fee, and we’ll schedule Step 4.
Ready to talk?
Email us, and let us know.
Step 4: Onboarding
Part of the Onboarding process is just housekeeping things: we need to establish the Zip Codes where you want to be shown as an option, work out the delivery fees for various locations, and other technical details. Don’t worry – we’re used to working through this, we’ll make it as painless as possible. The other part of this is philosophical. During your welcome call, we’ll put your mind at ease – we know the challenges that you will face, and we’ll help you face them one at a time, and accomplish great things.
Step 5: Training
During the Training process, we make sure that all of the members of your staff are on the same page – we teach you and your staff how to sell Bower & Branch trees, online, in the garden center. Part of the effort is to make sure everyone understands how the website works, but even more importantly, we want to make sure that you aren’t missing any opportunities. We work hard to get your staff up to speed and comfortable with every aspect of the program. These training sessions usually happen via videoconferencing, so it doesn’t require any travel.
Step 6: Go Live
When you’re ready, we’ll hit the switch and make you live on the website. At this point, you’ll be eligible to receive online orders, and you’ll be able to use the website in your store to sell trees. This is what you’ve been wanting to do, right?
6. Go Live
7. Culture of Innovation
Step 7: Culture of Innovation
This is the last step, but the most important, and longest lasting. Creating a culture of innovation, of meeting challenges head on, of leadership – this takes time, training, and effort. We’re committed to the Independent Garden Center, and we’ll continue to help you build a culture of innovation and leadership as we work together to take back market share and grow more profitable.