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POS design in times of Corona

28 Mar 2021

Despite a temporary lockdown, the green sector achieved record sales last year. © V. Koroleva

Despite a temporary lockdown, the green sector achieved record saleDespite a temporary lockdown, the green sector achieved record sales last year. © V. Korolevas last year. © Veronika Koroleva

How does the POS have to be designed so that it also works in times of Corona? And how does one address particularly the younger target groups expediently?

Plexiglas at the cash desk, safety distances marked on the floor with sticky tape, a limited number of customers in the shop, compulsory shopping trolleys and masks – we have all had to get used to this new reality in the retail trade during the pandemic. Also that many shops have often stayed closed for months and that after each lockdown the situation only gradually returns back to normal step-by-step... Not all industries got through the last crisis year well by far. Others on the other hand can't complain about losses in turnover. The so-called green industry is one of these. After a brief drop in the figures in the spring of 2020, the turnover here even reached record values.

Record turnover for the garden market

Plants, seeds, fertiliser, lawnmowers - indeed the Germans have never spent as much money on their gardens and balconies as in the last year. In times of home offices and travel restrictions, one's own four walls and the adjacent outdoor living-room played an important role for most people and the money that would otherwise have been invested in a holiday was spent on renovating, decorating, planting and redesigning. As the Garden Industry Association (IVG) reported at the beginning of March, with a plus of more than 9 percent the garden market achieved "a presumably long-term unbeatable record turnover of around Euro 20.7 billion" in the year 2020.

Inspirational areas had to be dispensed with

That DIY and the garden became so popular in 2020, was according to Klaus Peter Teipel (klaus peter teipel research & consulting) quite clearly due to the consumer demand and had less to do with concept-related aspects such as the shopping experience for example. The industry expert underlined this in his lecture at the Digital IVG Media Day in 2021. He stated that the availability of goods and ability to deliver were the decisive differentiating features within the stationary retail trade last year. And indeed the inspiring design of the POS in the specialised garden trade and at the DIY stores definitely took a back seat during this period. Hygiene regulations dictated what was possible and what wasn't. Inspirational areas often had to be dispensed with due to lacking space, so that the customers could keep enough distance from each other in the aisles of the stores and pass by each other pushing the frequently obligatory shopping trolleys.

In times of Corona, inspiration areas often had to be dispensed with due to lacking space. © P. Menke

In times of Corona, inspiration areas often had to be dispensed with due to lacking space. © P. Menke

Simple, convenient, self-explanatory

"The entire POS design will still be subordinate to the Corona theme in 2021 as well," said Oliver Mathys, who develops sales concepts for garden centres and DIY stores in various European countries and supports companies in the implementation thereof. "With the Corona figures rising again, many of the customers don't really feel like browsing around the stores to gain ideas or inspiration. A more functional, transparent design is thus called for, which enables people to carry out their purchases fast and in a targeted manner."

However, in terms of POS design, the expert has his eyes fixed on one particular target group this year: the 20 to 40-year-olds. "In times of Corona this age group, which didn't previously fall among the regular customers of garden centres, has discovered the theme greenery in the garden and living area. Many of these new customers are however total beginners on the topic of plants and accessories and actually need support." However, since many of the employees in the stores are busy implementing the hygiene measures, they have little time to assist. Furthermore, communications often prove difficult due to the masks and safety distances. Nevertheless, so that the newly acquired customers find what they are looking for among the offer and don't feel lost, Mathys recommends that the stores make sure that the goods in their product presentations are self-explanatory. "The customers want simple, convenient solutions, ideas and tips. For instance it can be helpful if a product – i.e. a raised flower bed – is unpacked and available on display ready assembled next to the other boxes. It is also useful to make recommendations: Notices on plants such as 'easy to care for' or 'needs little water' simplify the choice. The companies can offer additional information on their website or on the social media."

Since deliberating while choosing and combining products almost inevitably leads to gatherings of people and crowds in the retail trade, the expert advises shops to offer ready compiled sets for certain items: "How about boxes for instance, that already contain five or six different combinable plants for the sunny or shady balcony? Customers could thus find a trusted selection in one fell swoop. They are satisfied and the sales are additionally increased."

We can only hope that relaxed shopping is possible again by the autumn at the latest and that the consumers can let themselves be inspired in the shops again without all the restrictions.

Author: Roland Moers