Retail Strategy Analysis
In the retail environment, the importance of an effective strategy cannot be overemphasized. Given the inherently competitive nature of the retail space, a retailer must ensure a clearly defined target market, a robust operational strategy, a strong positioning strategy, sustainable competitive advantages, and proper retail mix (Bhatia 121-143). This paper provides a strategy analysis of Woodrings Floral Gardens (Woodrings), a company that retails floral gifts to customers within the State College area, Pennsylvania. Following a brief overview of the company, the analysis specifically pays attention to the company’s operations, target market, positioning strategy, competitive advantages, and retail mix considerations.
With more than four decades in operation, Woodrings retails floral gifts to individuals and organizations within the State College area. The company is family owned and operated, and offers flowers for a wide array of occasions, including birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, weddings, funerals, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Secretaries Week, Thanksgiving Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Christmas, New Year, as well as corporate functions. Also, the company retails floral gifts for customers wishing to express love and romance, gratitude, and sympathy. In addition to flowers, the company offers greeting cards, candles, gift baskets, fruit baskets, home plants, floral decorations, and floral arrangements. Committed to quality and service excellence, Woodrings is one of the most popular floral shops in State College.
Located in Allen Street, Woodrings offers floral gifts from as low as $45 to as high as $150. The store is open on Mondays through Saturdays from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm. The store is closed on Sundays as well as major holidays such as Independence Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Though some customers may wish for extended store hours, especially those that come from work late, the store’s operating hours are arguably convenient for majority of the company’s target market.
Though the company mainly relies on a brick-and-mortar model, there is an option for online retailing. Through the company’s website, customers can place orders and pay using a number of options such as VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Deliveries are made within and beyond the State College area. The company charges an extra $9.95 for local deliveries, while charges for deliveries beyond the local area vary depending on factors such as distance. Combining the traditional retail model and the online retail model can be viewed as one of the major strengths of the store. In today’s world, online retail is increasingly becoming popular, with consumers ever more desiring the convenience of home or office delivery (Jain 151). For retailers, online retail provides an opportunity to target an even larger market.
Success in the retail environment requires comprehensive understanding of the company’s target market. A company must understand the geographic, demographic, behavioral, and psychographic attributes of its target market (Bhatia 144-155). This knowledge provides a basis for formulating the overall business strategy, the operational strategy, and the marketing strategy. Woodrings primarily targets customers within the State College area. With a population of more than 40,000 people, State College is the largest designated municipality in Pennsylvania, providing a considerable market for floral products. Demographically, the company targets middle- to high-income individuals and families — male, female, diverse age groups, all races, educated, working class, retired, and so forth. The company also targets organizations within the State College area. Behaviorally, the company targets first-time buyers, repeat buyers, and gift enthusiasts. From a psychographic perspective, the company targets individuals fond of expressing their emotions through floral gifts. On the whole, Woodrings mainly targets the middle- to high-income consumer within the State College area wishing to express affection, romance, appreciation, and compassion through floral gifts.
Positioning is essentially about the image consumers have in mind about a particular brand, product, or service. It is about how a company differentiates itself from the competition — the uniqueness of its products or services (Zentes, Morschett and Schramm-Klein 179). Effective positioning helps a retailer gain an important competitive advantage in the marketplace. Indeed, with many retailers in the market offering similar merchandise, effective positioning enables a retailer to have a competitive edge over its rivals.
Woodrings positions itself as the preferred provider of floral gifts in State College. The company differentiates itself from the competition by offering upscale floral gifts targeted to affluent, fashionable, and affectionate individuals. The company’s products feature high quality, stylish arrangements, and considerable personalization. For the company, this is essential for appealing to the emotions of its customers. In addition, with its breathtaking floral gallery, the store offers an unforgettable shopping experience.
As a floral retailer, Woodrings has developed a number of competitive advantages. First, the store offers a wide variety of floral products. Whether it is a birthday or a “Thank You” card, the store has flowers for virtually every occasion. For a floral shop, the ability to accommodate the diverse floral needs of customers is a crucial source of competitive advantage. Indeed, it is not uncommon for some floral shops to not stock floral gifts for certain occasions or moments. This is not the case with Woodrings. The store’s competitive advantage further stems from its comparatively affordable prices, which, as mentioned earlier, range from $45-150. The store’s attractive price points, in large part, explain why the store is arguably the most popular floral shop within the State College area.
The store caters for not only the customer that visits the physical store, but also the one that wants delivery at home or any other preferred location. With online retailing increasingly becoming popular, this adds to the store’s competitive advantage. For all orders placed within the stipulated delivery schedule, the store guarantees same-day delivery. This means that customers do not have to wait for days after placing their order. For retail businesses offering delivery, timely delivery can be an important driver of customer satisfaction and retention. In fact, by fulfilling its promises, Woodrings has built a huge base of loyal customers. To confirm satisfaction, the store contacts every customer through telephone or email within 48 hours after delivery.
The quality of the store’s products is also a significant competitive advantage for the store. Featuring elegant arrangements, the flowers are often customized to the customer’s personal preferences. For fresh flowers, the store increases lifespan by using a special jelly that delays withering or drying. This ensures customers enjoy their flowers for a longer duration. Common flowers offered by the store include roses, tulips, lilies, as well as house plants. In addition, the flowers may often be accompanied with extras such as gourmet chocolates, creating a more emotional appeal to customers. On the whole, Woodrings’ customer-oriented strengths give the company a significant edge over its competitors, majorly George’s Floral Boutique and Avant Garden.
Retail Mix Considerations
Retailers must consider a number of factors when formulating their retail strategy. Five important factors include spatial considerations, merchandise, pricing, service, and integrated marketing communications (IMC) (Zentes, Morschett and Schramm-Klein 203-320). These factors are important for determining how to fulfill the needs of customers, coordinating operations, and building competitive advantage.
Spatial considerations essentially involve decisions about space and location. For any retail store, location is important (Bhatia 178). Should the store be located in the central business district, downtown, in a mall, or in the suburbs? Depending on the target market, the store should be located in a strategic location. Woodrings is located along Allen Street. Allen Street is one of the busiest streets in State College. Therefore, the store benefits from the huge traffic of consumers along the street. Moreover, the store can be readily accessed by bus, private car, cycling, or walking, making it a convenient choice for anyone in need of floral gifts. Spatial considerations also relate to the available retail space. The store is large enough to accommodate as many customers as there can be at any given point in time. The interior of the store features attractive decor and an effective layout to ensure unobstructed movement of customers within the store.
The element of merchandise relates to the kind of goods the retailer offers. Woodrings essentially offers floral gifts for a broad array of occasions and moments — from birthdays and weddings to holiday celebrations and funerals. For more details about merchandise, refer to the earlier sections of this paper. As for pricing, the store generally employs a value-based pricing strategy. This strategy basically involves setting prices primarily on the basis of the value the consumer attaches to the product or service as opposed to the product’s cost (Jain 215-230). In other words, the retailer charges the price the consumer would be willing to pay. This strategy often works for products whose purchase is based on emotions. Without a doubt, purchases of floral gifts are mainly driven by emotions, an indication of the appropriateness of the pricing strategy for Woodrings. Though Woodrings uses a value-based pricing strategy, its prices are quite affordable.
Another important element of the retail mix is service. This element basically denotes service aspects such as order processing, customer support, standardization, and service delivery. Given the nature of the market Woodrings serves, service excellence is a priority. The company achieves service excellence by ensuring customization, a simple purchase process, convenient payment options, as well as same-day delivery. Further, for online deliveries, the company contacts customers upon delivery to confirm satisfaction with the product. For the store, service excellence has been a vital source of competitive advantage.
The element of IMC relates to the strategies and channels a business uses to reach out to its target market. Woodrings relies on a mix of unconventional and modern techniques to promote its products. Common unconventional techniques the company utilizes include outdoor advertising (e.g. placement of ads at public parks, bus and train stations, billboards, shopping malls, and walkways) and viral marketing (encouraging customers to recommend the store to others). Woodrings also employ modern techniques such as internet marketing. More specifically, the stores promote its products through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and blogs. Given that Woodrings is a small, family-owned business, using unconventional and modern communication techniques enables the business to minimize the cost associated with marketing.
Overall, Woodrings’ retail strategy can be described as a success. Targeting middle- to high-income consumers within the State College area, Woodring offers a wide range of floral gift items. The company has excelled in product quality, service excellence, delivery reliability, and customer relationship management, gaining significant competitive advantage in the floral marketplace. Positioning itself as the top provider of floral gifts, the retailer boasts a strategic store location, competitive prices, convenient operating hours, as well as online retailing. The success of the store further stems from the use of robust marketing channels cutting across modern and unconventional techniques. Without a doubt, Woodrings provides important strategic lessons for small retailers.
Bhatia, S.C. Retail management. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2008.
Jain, Neelesh. Retail management: a realistic approach. New Delhi: Global India Publications, 2008.
Zentes, Joachim, Dirk Morschett and Hanna Schramm-Klein. Strategic retail management: text and international cases. 2nd edition. New York: Springer, 2011.
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