April 2015
“Earned” Rewards By Abby (Kleckler) McGarry

Last October, I crossed the finish line of the Chicago Marathon and, like the 40,801 other finishers, I quickly had a space blanket over my shoulders and a medal around my neck.

Millennials are often referred to as “trophy kids,” but participation rewards have no age limits. Whether it’s a medal for running a race or points for using your credit card, rewards for simply living life are everywhere.

Orland Park, Illinois a Chicago suburb – recently started a civic engagement loyalty program, said to be one of the first of its kind. Earn 100 points for “liking” the local pancake house on Facebook. Earn 200 points for reading about the community’s sustainability initiatives. Earn 500 points for cheering on the high school’s sports teams.

There are dozens of ways to earn points, which can be redeemed for gift cards to local businesses, tickets to community events or mystery experiences.

the big guys

Even some of the largest players on a national level are getting in on the rewards game. Target is testing its REDperks program by invitation only. This point-earning system is separate from Target’s REDcard credit card, but can be used in addition to the 5 percent discounts these shoppers already earn.

Whole Foods continues to test its Market Rewards program, where shoppers at 12 stores in New Jersey and Pennsylvania can earn points to redeem for cooking classes and other rewards.

It’s not all about businesses working alone either. Some companies are partnering with third parties as well. Customers who download the shopkick app (www.shopkick.com) can receive rewards – kicks – for just walking into a store or scanning an item. And it’s working. Shopkick is the fourth most popular shopping app behind Amazon, eBay and Groupon, according to Nielsen.

Perks are now an expectation instead of a welcome bonus, and for your garden center, it’s no different. On page 34, read about what three of your peers are doing.

Bonus bucks and free gifts can get people talking, but have you thought about partnering with other local businesses or rewarding customers with your expertise?

a merchandising reward

One reward you won’t want to miss out on is one that recognizes YOU. Grab your camera, walk into your garden center, and start snapping photos — it’s time for Lawn & Garden Retailer’s 2015 Merchandiser of the Year competition.

You have until June 15 to submit up to five high-resolution photos of your favorite creative display that appeared in your store this year. Send them to me at [email protected] with up to 500 words that could include the purpose of the display, when it was featured, who designed it and how they created it, where it was located and what customers had to say. See page 13 for more.

We won’t be handing out participation trophies, but the finalists will be featured in an upcoming issue of the magazine and the winner will receive a bundle from our sponsors.

Abby (Kleckler) McGarry

Abby (Kleckler) McGarry is the managing editor of Lawn & Garden Retailer. Contact her at [email protected].