Precis 18th September 2021
in conversation with PJ Quigley, we underestimated how many of our customers are looking for the trip out, spending money is consequential to the experience.
Listening to a face mask conversation at the check out I heard :
“We cannot take a holiday this year, but at least we can get out of the house and go to the countryside”
With E-commerce in our Garden Centre we missed a trick.
We are a group, we buy together, we share resources and we grow together, and the serious downturn in business we experienced was expected but still a shock.
The repercussions manifested in many ways, staff issues, plant care issues and procurement problems.
One area we knew was future proofed, was our ecommerce website and delivery service.
Future proofing our business was a considerable investment and consistent growth has justified that investment.
We really expected the online store to pick up some of the slack, with a few peaks and troughs, the traffic reports were encouraging but the actual sales didn’t even begin to compensate for poor physical visitor numbers.
The internet project.
in 2019, the decision was made to out source the project with experienced people who really made an effort to understand our business model.
We have a wonderful online store, well thought out, fast, full of engaging photos and information and associated cross selling ideas.
But underlining that project, we felt a strong mismatch with our physical offering and the internet offering, we just couldn’t put our finger on it.
We considered re routing staff to become personal shoppers, a walking tour of the Garden centre with direct purchasing on the website using our staffs own phones.
We trialled that, but the combination of the weather, a booking system that actually worked, client engagement and staff shortages made the project an abject failure.
Sometime the obvious isn’t so obvious
Once a month we have staff and management meetings, this Monday morning was particularly wet and quiet, we decided to meet in the restaurant area.
We had been toying with QR codes to order food, and we had been trialling it for table orders within our predominantly self service restaurant.
The girls told us it simply wasn’t working properly, orders couldn’t be actioned in a timely manner, the menus and the table QR codes didn’t work and they didn’t even come to their PC in the kitchen they went to the checkouts.
What had we missed? why was this such a problem when even the local pub seemed to have a system that worked ?
That very evening I went to Newlands Golf Club and spoke to the Manager there about their experience of QR.
He rolled his eyes and said they had abandoned the entire concept because the QR was always out of date and very often didn’t work at all.
Dispirited, I was browsing the shop store looking at golfing paraphernalia, and a sharply printed QR club was winking at me from a set of Golf clubs that cost nearly as much as my car!
I scanned it on my 4 year old Smartphone and a wee website appeared in the blink of an eye that exactly fitted my smartphone and then connected to a one minute video.
This video was crafted to show the benefits of their manufacturing process, and a professional golfer on the tee, 3 days ago at Championship Wentworth !
What really surprised me was that I could actually purchase these golf clubs immediately through Pay pal.
We were missing a trick, this was the opposite to the way our QR codes worked.
If this QR code was printed, how on earth was the Video so recent?
The answer was to source a professional Smart QR company who produced Smartphone enabled baby websites with optional video and ecommerce built in.
These baby websites are branded and have unique characteristics for all sorts of campaigns.
But more importantly subscribe to a subscription service that allowed us to change the information on the QR after it has been printed.
Much like our ecommerce website the hierarchy had already been thought through, we knew that bit, it wasn’t too difficult to think about permanent weather proofed QR for every section.
It actually wasn’t too difficult to roll the QR codes out to all our centres, if it worked at Newlands it would work exactly the same elsewhere.
Using the flexibility of the baby website templates allows ongoing campaigns with real time reporting.
Two very popular campaigns at the moment are feedback ( situated on the back of doors in the toilets ) Questions on food, sanitation, parking and Christmas.
The second on the restaurant tables €5 voucher for your point of view relates to ‘how can we improve our QR for you ?
What we hadn’t even begun to understand was the importance of QR connected to our customers smartphone on site!
We phased the project, but used different staff to the website, it was more administrative, so we actioned that with a reporting system so I could see progress.
What I didn’t know, was that the Company we use has a reporting system.
It tells us real time how many scans we are getting and from which department, interestingly it’s usually associated with new season product, for example now we are moving into winter bedding and the call to action for QR says “ Scan here for Deal of the Day”
We can change it whenever we need to, but its highly effective for driving promotional sales on site in a way the website simply does not.
We now have a QR in the restaurant that changes almost daily for specials and food deals depending on the weather forecast.
We are so excited by the progress we are making, we are considering joining the ecommerce store to the QR codes on site, add to virtual basket and add to real basket real time.
I will share in February with my next guest invitation
PJ Quigley. MD Newlands Garden Centres