Garden centers and nurseries offer personalized online shopping services to reduce losses.
Businesses have streamed videos of their centers and FaceTiming and sent emails to customers offering advice and instructions on orders during lockout.
Industry has warned that millions of plants, shrubs and trees may be thrown away in the coming weeks.
Some 2,000 garden centers and nurseries have been closed at what is generally their busiest time of the year.
Independent traders said that adapting businesses to online ordering, delivery and collection allowed them to respond to high demand while respecting social distancing measures.
Now garden suppliers are following suit.
Chessington Garden Center used Facebook live video to showcase available products, offering deliveries from orders placed on their website.
It offers a presentation of the center and the products, while the staff answers customer questions in the comments.
“We do everything we can to respect [government] and keep people at home, “begins the video. “However … what we want to do is encourage you in your gardens or your outdoor space. “
“Do what we can”
Many of these companies did not have a large online presence before and had a hard time building websites in a short time.
“We don’t have an online store or the time and money to create one,” said Jorge Rodriguez-Martin, director of The Palace Gardener in London. “We had to lay off staff and business was devastated by the closure of our garden center. So we do what we can to serve our loyal customers. “
The other three employees at the center – who do not use public transit to get to work – focus on keeping the factories alive and offer detailed advice and recommendations by email or call.
“It’s peak time, so people sent us pictures of their gardens, asking which plants they should buy, and we sent back pictures of our stock,” adds Jorge.
“Many people order gardening tools for children, looking for something to keep families occupied.
“And because a lot of people in London don’t have a garden, they order houseplants to beautify their living rooms. “
Alfonso Marone, UK technology manager at KPMG, says that garden centers are under the same type of pressure as household goods stores at the start of the foreclosure.
“DIY spending has increased as consumers seek ways to use self-isolation time productively through home improvements,” he said. “Garden centers fit perfectly into this category and gardening has the added benefit of being the ideal type of soothing activity to counter an anxious and uncertain period. “
“The phone didn’t stop”
Jean Cottier has run the Aigburth Hall nurseries in south Liverpool for about 10 years.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, she has posted stock photos on Facebook, allowing customers to order by phone and then pick up at the door.
“I post almost every day, which is not a regular job for me, but it’s the only way people can see what we have in the garden,” she says. “The phone kept ringing. “
John requests that customers pick up their orders at the front door, maintain the distance of 2 meters and wear gloves.
“There has been a huge increase in demand – people looking to grow their own vegetables or plant pansies to brighten up their windows. Gardening is good therapy in ordinary times, but it’s particularly soothing at the moment. “
Davies Brothers Nursery in Buckinghamshire used YouTube to create a virtual shopping channel, regularly posting videos of available stocks. At the moment, it offers a limited local delivery service.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, he said, “We are a small family business that was created for a normal spring-summer season until the whole world suddenly changes.
“Over the past 10 days we have had to adjust well above our comfort levels and we are working on the basis of trial and error, while trying our best to bring the factories to as many of our loyal customers as possible.
“Number one in all of this, however, is that everyone stays safe [and] well, and I hope some of our hanging plants and baskets can put a little smile on your face during this time, “he adds.
“Social media had something that replaced the street store at that time,” said Craig Summers, managing director of trade analysts for the supply chain Manhattan Associates.
“Posting videos or photos daily allows you to attract customers and is a more immersive shopping experience than an online transaction and delivery.”