Garden Centres Online Opportunities

9th May 2020

As the UK government are expected to release the lockdown rules to allow customers to visit Garden Centres from next week if they can comply with the social distances rules.

Spring is the busiest time for Garden Centres across the country as a nation of garden lovers get their hands into the compost, sow seeds and head out to the garden centres for a collection of bedding plants to brighten up their gardens. Since the UK lockdown during March garden lovers have missed out on the opportunity wander casually around the garden centre carefully selecting their choice of colours for this years garden display.

Seed sales soar as we grow our own

During lockdown many have taken the opportunity to grow their own as we struggled to buy essentials from supermarkets. We turned to online retailers that could supply seeds direct to our doors giving families the change to grow vegetables at home with their children.

Keen gardeners who previously would have purchased bedding plants have taken to internet to order their flower seeds online. Specialist seed businesses such as Sutton Seeds have seen unprecedented demand in search terms and have implemented an online queuing system, similar to that of DIY chain B&Q to ensure that customers can place orders.

think3 google trends e-commerce retail sector
Google Trends analysis for Sutton Seeds search terms during February to April 2020

E-Commerce for Garden Centres

The peak of the spring season is due to be with us in just a couple of weeks which will see garden centre and nursery stocks potentially becoming past their best for customers. So what options do garden centre and nursery retailers have?

Dobbies, the UK’s largest garden centre chain, has continued to supply its customers with plants during this time with it’s online delivery service . The smaller independent garden centres, including local plant nurseries have not all been able to follow suit. Many of these rely on local footfall throughout the spring and are now carrying significant volumes of stock. Where possible local independent centres have adapted their sales model to include local delivery services which has been supported by the Horticultural Trades Association with their latest guidance including information on Click and Collect services.

With social distancing measures still required garden centres and nurseries may still struggle to sell the stock they currently have on site they may need to reconsider their marketing approach in order to sell significant quantities of stock.

Retail marketing strategies

As a nation of gardening lovers who frequent garden centres and nurseries, it is worthwhile remembering that whilst many consumers prefer the in-person approach to purchasing their garden goods, there has over recent years been a growth in online horticultural retailing, aligned to the wider consumer trend towards internet shopping.

As our garden centres re-open there may be some short term sales offered by retailers with plants heavily discounted to allow them to prepare for the summer season. Check to see if your local centre or nursery is offering a click and collect service to avoid lengthy queues or are they varying their opening hours to meet consumer demands.

Ordering plants online is becoming increasingly popular, providing consumers with a choice of how to access goods and services from online retailers. It’s not yet clear how consumer demand will change beyond the current lockdown, for retailers it’s important to plan for your marketing strategy beyond the current restrictions.

Now might be the right time to consider implementing an e-commerce website, revamping your existing website and expanding your advice and guidance online to increase your brand awareness and achieve online sales growth and spring into the summer with a new strategy.

To discuss a marketing strategy or the development of an e-commerce website or marketing in general with our team, get in touch.