Gardeners are getting tech-savvy, and more and more shoppers are turning to online retailers for their gardening supplies. If you own a brick-and-mortar gardening center, it may be time to expand into the ecommerce world, and if you’re a budding entrepreneur who has an interest in horticulture, now is the time to jump into online gardening retail.
As you can imagine, there are some pretty big differences between going to a physical gardening center—where you can get an up-close look at various plants and tools while talking with experienced gardeners—and buying your gardening supplies from an online store—where you can make your purchase more quickly but lack the in-person experience. Gardening retailers should keep the following 3 tips in mind to better bridge the gap between online and offline sales and appeal to their customers.
Make sure your gardening site is mobile friendly. One of the biggest trends in online retail today is the use of mobile devices in making purchases. Consumers want to be able to shop straight from their smartphone or tablet, and they’re much more likely to shop on sites that are optimized for mobile than sites that are hard to read and navigate on a small screen. If you’re setting up your own website, it may be worth paying a designer to create a mobile-optimized version, and if you’re using a third-party online marketplace, you should pull it up on your phone to make sure it looks good on the small screen.
Use social media to share gardening tips. One thing that a lot of people value when visiting a gardening center is being able to talk to like-minded individuals and get horticultural advice. You can still provide this experience online by creating content like blog posts and Facebook status updates that offer helpful gardening tips. Visual social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram are also useful for showing off different plants or offering up a basic tutorial, like how to create a window box garden.
Provide fast shipping. Research has shown that consumers in rural areas are slightly more likely than consumers in urban areas to shop for gardening supplies online, perhaps in part because it takes more time for them to get to a brick-and-mortar store. Since these shoppers are turning to online gardening retailers for the sake of convenience, you need to make sure that they’re actually getting that convenience. Ship your products as soon as you can after receiving an order, email your customers to let them know their order is on the way, and follow up to make sure that they received it.
Whether or not you already have experience running a brick-and-mortar gardening center, your goal with an online gardening store should be to provide the same (or even better) expertise, visual appeal, convenience, and customer service that customers receive when they visit a physical gardening store.