Last year there was a ton of new garden gadgets to choose from. I think we will all be haunted for a long time by those Topsy Turvy Tomato planters (of course we sold them, but we still got tons of calls, emails, etc.). This year I think that the big thing might be . . . smart phones! Yes, web-enabled smart phones with gardening applications.
A couple of years ago web-enabled phones were few and far between, but now seemingly everyone has some sort of smart phone. Along with those phones, we are seeing some great applications that are tailored for gardeners. A couple of my favorites for the iPhone is iLocate – Gardening, Plant Doctor, and BugsDB. iLocate – Gardening is an app that lets the user easily located nearby garden centers (see screenshot), Plant Doctor helps diagnose plant diseases and problems (you can even pay a little extra to have a professional diagnose the issue with an online form and photos), and BugsDB is a database of hundreds of common garden pests.
Last year we were contacted by 10-20 Media regarding their Garden Pilot app and online database, but it was simply cost-prohibitive for us to implement. Since then, I’ve been working to come up with an alternative that would allow Bob’s Market to capitalize on the potential of the smart phone craze and not break our marketing budget. After some consideration and experimentation I discovered QR codes and later Microsoft Tag (refer to my previous blog post for a description of how these work).
Mothers Day is coming up in the next few weeks and we will be ready to roll out our new smart phone support that uses MS Tag. We are going to have bench cards that link directly to our online plant database, brochures that will allow for folks to instantly sign up for our e-newsletter, and newspaper ads that link directly to our website (just to list a few possibilities). Best of all, aside from the set up costs and time involved, it’s FREE! Also, MS Tag is supported by most new smart phones.