8 February 2016
Last week I was travelling in Ireland with my colleague Amy and convinced a garden centre to become a customer of Garden Connect. That wasn't complicated at all, because I just told them the truth about webshops for garden centres and how to make money with them.
The marketing staff of this garden centre told me they have had meetings with various local online marketing agencies and they explained exactly how webshops work. The following steps probably look familiar if you've been talking to our competitors:
- Buy a webshop, preferably an expensive one of at least £10,000 or more. *
- Upload your products - all of them.
- Spend a small fortune on Google Adwords.
- Within 6 months you'll have a return on your investment and within a few years you'll end up like Scrooge McDuck, as above, swimming in money.
However, I didn't know this was told to them when the meeting started and one of the staff members asked me straightforward: what do you think about webshops for garden centres? (Good to know: even tough I'm Dutch I try to start a meeting with some small talk and a coffee. They didn't offer us a coffee and they were as direct as most Dutch people are. Not ideal but it felt like coming home!).
My answer made it clear how garden centres make money with their webshops: they don't. Or not directly to say it in a better way. E-commerce businesses like Amazon and German fashion giant Zalando are losing money despite their automated logistics and order processing. So how can we expect garden centres to make money if their "logistics" are equal to printing a PDF, picking the order manually and bringing it to the post office?
They weren't expecting so much honesty from me so from that moment I wasn't a weird Dutchman, but an expert on their own playing field. And it feels great to get that confirmation :-)
Another secret unveiled
Of course from that moment I could unveil another secret: despite the fact it's almost impossible to make a profit on sending out orders, it is still essential to have a webshop. Customers who are ordering online on Monday could pop in on a Friday afternoon for some funshopping. Customers checking out garden furniture on your webshop on Wednesday evening might visit you on Saturday to close the deal. Dragging backs of soil isn't anyone's hobby so you're more than welcome to deliver them for a good charge. The future of garden centres is both online & offline: the first cannot exist without the latter.
An hour and a half later I was on the road again with a dry mouth and signed agreement.
So even by explaining they weren't going to make a profit on it I was still able to sell a webshop. Proving that despite my Dutch accent, they clearly understood the underlying message: online and offline should be combined to be successful. Did you get it too?
See you at the HTA Tech Conference or at Future Lines!