17 August 2020

I am sure you have noticed it often: you are walking around in your garden centre and see customers checking their smartphone. There are many reasons why people would do that, they might be posting a photo on Instagram for example. But most likely they are looking up information related to your products and garden centre.

Do you want to know what they are doing and why? And are you curious to learn how to make use of this? Check our list with 7 reasons why customers use their smartphones in your garden centre.

1. To search for reviews

According to a survey by RetailMeNot, 69% of the customers use a smartphone to look up reviews of a product. This isn’t as relevant if you’re selling just plants, but it’s very relevant for high-ticket items like barbecues and furniture.

Having product reviews on your own website could help you to keep customers from looking elsewhere for information. Also, you can create signs showing the opinion of customers in-store.

Showing reviews works well to sell products online so why wouldn’t it work in your garden centre?


2. To compare products

According to the same survey, 58% of the customers use their smartphone to compare products. It’s well-known that customers often prefer to check the internet rather than asking someone in the garden centre if they have questions about a product.

This also creates an opportunity to showcase your expertise and knowledge. You have to step up and ask if you can help someone. If you’re able to give the right answer, you’re very close to getting the sale. 

3. Product specifications

55% of the customers look online for product specifications. Especially in a garden centre, getting the right information can be challenging. Plant labels are often very small, completely missing or have 7 languages of text. 

They tend not to be very customer-friendly, to put it mildly.

So what do your customers do when they want to know if the plant stays small enough for their city-garden? They go to Google to look it up.

If you have team members who have a lot of plant knowledge, and I’m sure you have those, they can answer these questions straight away. Or, even better, give the advice to go with it! 

4. They are looking for deals!

Only at the 4th position: deals! 53% of the customers who are ready to buy go to the internet to do some good old fashioned price comparison. That’s still a lot but more in-depth things are still more important: product specifications and reviews score higher than the quest for a low price. 

Is this worrying? Can be. 

But the beauty is if you notice people are comparing prices is that they are ready to buy! Customers only do price-comparisons at the end of the customer journey. It’s the ideal moment to get in touch with them on the shop floor.

Did they find a lower price? Don’t lower yours but explain to them webshops often have hidden costs, like shipping. And even if shipping is free, returns can be very expensive and a hassle on top of that. 

Another benefit you have: they can buy it on the spot and enjoy their new purchases today.

We rarely recommend you to lower your price just because someone online is offering a bargain. There will always be someone doing just that so if you’re not cautious, everyone starts negotiating with you.

5. Exclusive offers

When customers are ready to go to the till, a group of over 40% might use their smartphone to check if they can find a voucher or exclusive offer of your garden centre.

Exclusive offers are often sent out by e-mail or via your garden centre loyalty app, so customers might want to check to see if they can find any vouchers to redeem.

Is this an issue? No, since they are already on their way to the checkout. 

They just don’t want to miss out on vouchers you’ve sent to them and as true Dutchmen, we won’t disagree with them!

6. They want something else

Our average garden centre customers have over 20,000 unique products on the shelves but still, customers manage to want product number 20,001. Around 40% of the customers who are using their smartphone are doing it to find an alternative product. 

That Capi container in white? Perhaps they want a black one.


The artificial Christmas tree without lights? They prefer to have lights on it.

Customers are always looking for the best product matching their requirements. But this also creates an opportunity for you, since some customers were just unable to find the right Capi container. Or you can backorder that Christmas tree and let the supplier deliver it at the customers’ doorstep.

If they are looking for something but can’t find it, make sure to reach out and see if you can help them. 

7. Product warranties and return policy

But what if something isn't as the customer expected? 33% of the customers use their smartphone to check a return policy or to find more info on warranties. 

This is a good signal that return policies shouldn’t be displayed somewhere in a dark corner near the entrance. It should be obvious at multiple spots in your centre. The 2-year plant guarantee Millbrook Garden Centre offers is a good example of how to give customers the confidence to buy from you:

Make sure these signs are at multiple spots in your garden centre. 

All in all, your customers are using their smartphone in-store for many reasons. But finding a lower price is only one of them! Customers are looking at their smartphone because they don’t feel secure buying the products yet. It’s your job to reach out, to talk and to ask so you can make that sale!

7 reasons why customers use their smartphone in your garden centre
Edwin Meijer

This article is written by:

Edwin Meijer

Marketing director

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