3 March 2021

On Tuesday February the 23rd, Smiemans Projecten, Garden Connect and the Dutch Garden Centre Association organised a follow-up of the Round Table Event of 2020. Instead of a physical meeting, it was an online seminar this year.  The group boasted 19 garden retailers from 7 different countries bringing their own experiences and cultural values.

Consumer behaviour during Covid-19

Once the introductions were completed, Frank van der Heide from the Dutch Garden Centre Association gave a presentation about consumer behaviour during Covid-19. Based on 10 lessons about consumer behaviour, he discussed the opportunities and the challenges for brands and retailers. 

After his presentation, Edwin Meijer from online marketing agency Garden Connect gave a presentation with the topic “The internet is worldwide, but shopping is local”. He shared insights to create a strategy for the coming years: since Covid-19 consumers worldwide have made a switch to online shopping. Even though there are a great number of webshops, there is still a high demand for local shopping. How to benefit from this trend? And what do consumers expect from their local garden centre?

Break-out room e-commerce

After Edwin’s presentation, the delegates were divided into break-out rooms to continue the conversation about e-commerce and influences on the garden industry. 

The common thread was that ‘Convenience & Experience’ should be combined. Everybody understands the benefit of online shopping which is mainly the convenience for the customer, but it’s not the ultimate. The consumer lacks the experience, inspiration and social aspect of shopping. Besides that, for the entrepreneur, there are challenges such as stock management, quality assurance and logistics. 

Sustainability plays a role as well: how responsible is it to drive through the whole country to deliver garden products? One of the entrepreneurs only delivers regionally for that reason and this is preferably done by bike. 

It’s remarkable to see that the challenges and opportunities around e-commerce were more or less the same for all participants: from Ireland to Sweden. 

The garden centre as a “playground”

After a short break, Paul Pleydell from Pleydell Smithyman started an inspiring presentation about the future of the garden industry. As he described it, the future looks very bright. The popularity of enjoying your own house and garden has increased tremendously since Covid-19. 

Garden centres have an important role to fill. There are enough opportunities for many garden centres in the areas of retail, events, experiences and hospitality. We went back into the break-out rooms to discuss these topics. 

What stood out the most, was that the garden centre of the future shouldn’t focus on moving products, but should be an inspiring place to stay, enjoy, and relax. Young families will enjoy a playground and places where children can get in contact with the garden and nature. Elderly customers need friendly hospitality, cafe and events to be inspired. 

A significant difference was shown here: garden centres in the North of Europe such as Norway, Denmark and Sweden are just getting started with cafes and restaurants, where it’s not rare to have at least one restaurant in the garden centre in the United Kingdom. 

Even though an online Round Table conference is less fun than a real-life conference is, it was very interesting to share perspectives and experiences from different countries. Every participant has their own problems and opportunities, and everybody was able to give each other support and advice for the coming time. 

Smiemans Round Table Event
Edwin Meijer

This article is written by:

Edwin Meijer

Marketing director

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