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Immediacy: Challenge for the garden trade

27 May 2021

How can garden dealers deal with the "digital impatience"? © Benjamin Voros

How can garden dealers deal with the "digital impatience"? © Benjamin Voros

Digital technologies make it possible to fulfil many customer requirements directly. The expectations have grown as a result, in 2007 the author, Peter Glaser, came up with the term "immediacy" to describe this phenomenon. How can garden dealers deal with this "digital impatience"?

Everything has to happen immediately in the digital era: Computers have to be ready to operate immediately after being booted up, e-mails have to be answered as soon as they are received, ordered goods should where possible arrive the same day. If a webshop page doesn't load within three seconds or the desired product isn't found fast enough, many potential customers leave the shop and move on to another supplier to continue their search. The submitted evaluation is correspondingly negative.

"Immediacy in the garden" – a contradiction

Garden lovers should actually strike "immediacy" out of their heads. It takes time for a seed to sprout into a lettuce, a wonderfully thriving bed of flowers doesn't grow overnight either. That is why a garden is not only for the Swiss landscape architect, Professor Dieter Kienast, "the last luxury of our days, because it demands what is most precious in our society: Time, affection and space."

"Immediacy in the garden" is a contradiction. © Markus Spiske

"Immediacy in the garden" is a contradiction. © Markus Spiske

Competitive factor fast service

The garden trade nevertheless has to react to the "immediacy" trend. Because if plants and garden accessories of the same quality are available everywhere at almost identical prices, service becomes a key factor of differentiation – and as such a competitive edge. Furthermore, plants have to be as fresh as possible when they reach the customer. Hence, fast deliveries pay off in terms of quality.

Customers expect speed

Whether via the Internet or in the store: In the eyes of the customer prompt deliveries as well as fast, convenient ordering and payment are the most important services. This is the conclusion of the Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019 of Price Waterhouse Coopers: 70 percent of the consumers expect to receive the desired product as fast as possible, just as many want to know the exact delivery date while ordering. Whereby as fast as possible frequently no longer means the next day, but indeed the same day. Speed is also demanded by online shoppers: Ultra-fast loading times, websites with clear layouts, simple, intuitive search, ordering and payment functions have long since become matter of course.

Average delivery time: over 3 days

In reality one can't talk about immediate delivery. On average customers had to wait 3.26 days for their ordered goods even prior to the Corona crisis, according to the "eCommerce Dispatch Survey 2020" by parcelLab, a platform technology provider. A current Garden Shop Test by ExpertenTesten.de suggests that the delivery times of the online garden trade also lie within this range. As a result of the shutdown of the stationary trade, these are however now longer across all industries, what's more less and less dealers are offering same day delivery. According to the parcelLab survey, there is also room for improvement regarding the communication of delivery times, because almost one third of the dealers don't even state a delivery date.

The customers don't tolerate delays

At the first glance, consumers who purchase goods at stationary garden centres are better off. They can take plants and other items with them directly – as long as these are in stock. If this is not the case, frustrated customers quickly resort to the Internet. Delays caused by having to search ages for products or information as well as queues at the tills aren't tolerated either. Many stationary dealers are thus placing their bets on a clear shop layout – and are increasingly relying on digital support, for instance in the form of click&collect services and self-scanning systems.

No acceleration without digital support

The demand for immediacy presents the online trade with a particular challenge – after all the delivery chains are extremely complex today. Efficient internal processes, high-performance IT systems and digital technologies with AI and analytic support are thus indispensable in increasing the speed of delivery. They guarantee high-quality data, enable real-time information on stock levels and dispatch options as well as agile reactions to unforseen occurrences such as sudden rush orders or delays on the part of suppliers.

Finding the optimal logistic partner

The choice of an efficient and reliable logistic partner, who constantly optimises his delivery routes and goes that "last mile" to the customer by using manifold options of urban logistics, such as microdepots or storage in the boot, is equally important. Alternatively as an online dealer one can also cooperate with manufacturers and wholesalers, who send goods directly to the customers as dropshippers.

Finding the optimal logistic partner is essential. © Polina Tankilevitch

Finding the optimal logistic partner is essential. © Polina Tankilevitch

Upgrade service

It often suffices for the consumers if they know precisely when their new purchase will arrive. Make sure your customer receives the corresponding information directly after placing the order and that he can track the dispatch status at all times online. You can also upgrade your service and impress your customers with free delivery for a certain order value upwards, with guarantees and detailed product and care information on a plant delivery. In this case, a possible delayed delivery will be more readily excused.

The future: "Anticipatory shipping"

The best way of delivering goods to the customers immediately is if you are already know what they want before they order it. This sounds like science fiction, but this could soon be reality. Because Big Data makes it possible to generate purchase predictions based on extensive customer data and place the corresponding goods in interim storage close to the customer before the actual order is placed. In any case, Amazon already had this principle of "anticipatory shipping" patented in 2013.

Which offers are in your opinion the most important in distinguishing oneself from one's competitors and fulfilling the high expectations of your customers? We look forward to hearing your opinion!