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Customer experiences in online garden retail

13 Jul 2021

There is still room for improvement in the area of customer experience.

There is still room for improvement in the area of customer experience.

E-commerce in the gardening sector is also gaining ground. But what about the customer experience? Studies show that there is still room for improvement in this area.

Today, a growing number of garden retailers are also offering their products online. However, the range of products and services that they offer are often quite similar. That is why a positive shopping experience is becoming a crucial competitive factor.

A positive customer experience pays off

What do customers expect from online garden retailers? Most of all, the ordered plants should last, be fresh and arrive in good condition. Freshness guarantees are always welcome. Customers in the gardening sector are especially demanding. Not only do they expect high quality, but also want a pleasant experience when shopping online – just like in a brick-and-mortar store – with products that are easy to find, competent advice and services. Retailers can meet these expectations with clearly arranged, informative and emotionally appealing web shops, advice tools like blogs, explainer videos and live chats, uncomplicated ordering and return processes, and fast delivery. They can successfully set themselves apart from the competition with customer-oriented service, a personal approach and emotional shopping experiences.

Need for optimisation in online retail

The current cross-industry study looks at the things that are generally important in online retail today “The State of Commerce Experience” by Forrester Consulting and the Bloomreach Digital Experience Platform . It shows that 72 percent of customers have difficulties when researching products and placing orders. Seventy-six percent of consumers want to be able to navigate the store pages intuitively and find what they are looking for quickly. However, only 46 percent of online retailers provide easy website navigation. For 80 percent of customers, it is important for the search results to show products that match their preferences. On the other hand, the study shows that only 45 percent of web shops provide the option for users to filter search results by categories such as price, brand or style.

Poor service is not tolerated

Many online stores are still a long way from a seamless, inspiring online shopping experience. More and more, customers are not willing to put up with negative experiences due to poor service, incorrect information or long wait and delivery times. According to the Customer Experience Trend Reports 2020 by the software company Zendesk, 50 percent of customers will take their business to a competitor after just one bad experience. It therefore pays to invest in the customer experience and excellent customer service. Alone for the mere fact that it is much cheaper to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones.

Consistent customer focus – an example

How can online garden retailers deliver a superior customer experience? The answer is quite clear: by consistently putting the focus on the customer and their needs. The following fictitious example illustrates what a positive shopping experience could look like across all phases and contact points of the customer journey in online retail:

The Blume family loves their garden. If only the lawn didn’t have to be mowed – no one wants to do it. All the same, a robotic mower is needed in order to have a perfectly cut, lush green lawn.
While researching on the internet, the Blumes discover a special promotional offer from Grün garden centre. They find more information in the clearly laid out web shop. Test results and product films confirm that the promotional product is the right choice. They place the order – it’s super easy thanks to the clear user guidance and uncomplicated ordering process. The approach is friendly and personal, and immediately after the order is placed, the Blumes receive information about the delivery date.

The robotic mower arrives just three days later. Unfortunately, none of the family members can figure out how it works. A call to the green hotline is all it takes – the garden centre sends a service employee to install and set up the device. The first mowing operation went extremely well, all it needs now is a bit of fine-tuning. The live chat service of the online store provides helpful advice, an explainer video – and optional additional personalised information on the cell phone. The Blumes are very satisfied and immediately buy more garden accessories and arrange a maintenance service. They receive compliments from their neighbours and friends on their perfectly mowed lawn. The Blumes are happy to recommend the robotic mower and web shop to others – Grün garden centre can therefore look forward to even more new customers.

Example of an optimal customer journey design.

Example of an optimal customer journey design.

Positive experience over the entire customer journey

The fictitious Grün garden centre has consistently aligned its online store and services with the needs of its customers. It looks at flows and processes from their perspective, provides positive customer experiences along the entire customer journey, and works consistently to further improve the customer’s shopping experience. This can be supported with modern digital analytics technologies, which enable a 360-degree view of the customer as well as segmentation, personalisation, targeting and tracking. Retailers who operate both a digital and a brick-and-mortar garden centre can also use these technologies to optimise their hybrid business. For online garden retailers, the positive customer experience definitely pays off: Customers are happy, loyal and gladly recommend the online store to others.